Staycation Series: Trail Running Holidays In The UK
Staycation; the act of taking a holiday at home or in your home country, exploring the areas accessible to you within a few hours by foot, bike, train, car or bus.
Waking up, knowing you have doorstep access to a variety of trails is an absolute joy. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of locations that have numerous trail running options, are great places to explore and are ideal for relaxing in after you’ve been running.
The Peak District
The small village of Langley sits on the western edge of the Peak District with instant access to Macclesfield Forest and the surrounding hills. The forest has several reservoirs at the base of it and an abundance of gravel paths which weave their way up through trees and present views across the Cheshire plains.
Tegg’s Nose sits to the north of the village, within its own Country Park, and to the south is Shutlingsloe Peak the ’Matterhorn’ of Cheshire. You can combine these three into one loop or split them up into different runs, with an abundance of other tracks splitting off from them.
For a day out you’ve got Lyme Park, Jodrell Bank and Buxton Poole’s Caves all under half an hour’s drive. And in the evening, a quick walk from Langley brings you to Sutton which has a couple of nice pubs including ‘The Sutton Gamekeeper’ which specialises in using local produce.
On the North Coast of Norfolk, you’ll find the seaside town of Wells-Next-The-Sea, a small fishing town in the middle of an Area Of Outstanding Beauty. Head west out of the town along The Norfolk Coastal Path and you’ll be treated to a run through Holkham National Nature Reserve, an eclectic mix of creeks, dunes, sandspits, pinewoods and marshes. Head east and you’ll find more amazing coastline to run along and another Nature reserve (Blakeney) where you have the chance to see seals.
The whole area is full of beautiful scenery and a wide array of wildlife with a variety of terrain underfoot. After a run, you can visit the local Warham Camp Iron Age Fort or Holkham Hall and its walled gardens. eat some ‘proper’ fish and chips and get a good night’s sleep at one of the many campsites.
Newcastle is the perfect place to base yourself to explore the Mourne Mountains and the Northern Irish coastline. The Seven Seven’s is an annual, 19-mile, race across the highest peaks (over 700m) in the Mourne Mountain Range. This route serves up a diverse range of terrain to explore from rocky tors and steep inclines to mellow grassy slopes.
Run north out of Newcastle along the beach and you’ll come to Murlough Nature Reserve which has various trails through it and makes for a good point to loop around and head back inland to Newcastle along the inlet and through marshland.
Another nearby area for running is Tollymore Forest; it has a series of gravel trails that guide you around the park’s most beautiful areas.
On a rest day, take in a visit to 13th century Dundrum Castle ruins for fantastic views of the surroundings and the estuary or head into town for some of the local seafood cuisines and wash it down with a pint of Guinness.
Nestled at the east end of Loch Leven is the picturesque village of Kinlochleven. The first thing you notice is the striking Mamores Mountains which surround the village and showcase some of the amazing local terrain.
Running through the middle of the village is the famous West Highland Way, 96 miles of trails that stretch from Milngavie to Fort William. The Stevenson Way, based on the novel ‘Kidnapped’, also runs through the village starting in Mull and ending in Edinburgh. These two routes create trails in all directions or you can climb one of the Munros in the Mamores.
If you head south along The West Highland Way a good circuit is to turn east at Altnafeadh and then back up through the valley to Blackwater Dam and follow the River Leven back to Kinlochleven.
You can of course wild camp or stay in one of the B&B’s / guest houses in the village, give ice climbing a go at the climbing centre or kick back and enjoy the views across Loch Leven.
Kielder Forest Park
The park covers 600 square kilometres of forest and includes 43 kilometres of shoreline around its central lake, Kielder Water. You’ll find various well-maintained paths throughout the forest the lake that showcase the abundant wildlife, art installations and beautiful scenery.
You can download PDF maps or ViewRanger routes from the park’s website to guide you or link together some of the shorter routes to create your own trails.
At night you can wild camp in one of the designated 17 areas within the park (only with Forestry Commission permission). And if it’s a clear night you can take in amazing views of constellations that the Dark Sky Park provides.
In the local area, you can take a visit to Hadrian’s Wall, visit one of the many castles or take a day trip to Northumberland National Park.
In the middle of Snowdonia National Park is Coed-y-Brenin Forest. Its woodland setting and rugged terrain make it ideal for mountain biking, hiking and trail running. Purpose-built trails have been created in the woods, including five run specific ones that vary in distance and difficulty.
The trails play host to various races and events throughout the year including night runs which are open to runners of all standards. Along the different routes, you’ll pass rivers & waterfalls, all sorts of wildlife and be treated to some amazing panoramas.
Outside of the forest, you have easy access to lodge houses in the local villages and you can easily visit the coast down at Barmouth.
Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire
Only 45 minutes from London you have the Chiltern Hills and the chance to enjoy some beautiful countryside and spectacular views. The Chiltern Way is a well-marked route which takes you through the heartland of an Area Of Outstanding Beauty.
Numerous ridgeline sections of the trail give you excellent vantage points over the fields, quaint villages and wooded areas that make up the Chilterns.
During the year, there are several ultras and other races that take place across the hills, as well as guided group runs that you can participate in.
There are plenty of accommodation options dotted around and you can visit one of the many stately homes and their impressive gardens.
About the Author:
Pete Fletcher - Outdoor Expert
Pete grew up hiking most of the trails in the Lake District before being introduced to skiing. A decade later and you're most likely to find him snowboarding, skateboarding or making a mean coffee.