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A Guide to Southern UK Running Paths for Fellow Weirdos Who Run on Vacation

Runners are a strange breed. Rain, shine, snow, gale-force winds, opossum apocalypse… we’re lacing up our shoes and heading out. One of the best times to lace them up is when we’re on vacation. Fewer things are more exciting for me than getting to my hotel and seeing awesome places to run nearby. Beaches, parks, lakes, nature trails, even a sidewalk in a scenic area… my little running heart skips a beat. Putting on my ASICS is like Cinderella putting on her glass slippers as she headed to the ball. I’d make for a very weird Disney princess.

On a trip to the United Kingdom in October 2016, I stopped in a handful of places. It would have been several handfuls, but thanks, measly 80 hours of vacation time. What’s a girl gotta do to get six months’ worth?! Anyway, I kid you not when I tell you that when I arrived in London, which was the destination for the last five days of my trip, the first thing I did was go for a seven-mile run. Feel free to contact mental health professionals for me. Anyway, here are a list of beautiful places to go for a run on a trip to the southern portion of the UK.

Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens – London

During my sojourn in London, I was staying in a hotel right next to Kensington Gardens. I arrived at Paddington Station in the early afternoon on my typical long run day, so I felt I needed to get a decent number of miles in. Most people would say, “Hey, I’m in London! Where’s a good museum? What’s the best place for Indian food? Let’s see if I can get theater tickets!” I said, “Oh, what sexy green parks and running paths you have, London.”

I did a quick search on my computer to see how far you could go if you ran through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, and I found some easy guides on the different paths. The parks are so green, filled with other fitness enthusiasts and downright adorable dogs, packed with overly excited tourists, (most doing normal vacation things, not running… they’re totally missing out) and they’ve got some gorgeous water bodies brimming with swans and other water birds.

Be sure to keep your eyes mostly on the path, not just the birds. But do lots of internal"awww"-ing

Despite nearly colliding with a few bikes while staring at swans, it was a good time! The path was comfortable, there was plenty of space despite the crowds, and it offered some great scenery. If you want to stuff your face with Indian food and feel completely justified, run a few miles in Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and bring on the samosas! (I will allow you to bring on the samosas without a run, but think about how much more samosa bringing on you can do with the calories you’ve burned. Those shoes are looking more tempting now, huh? #RunningPropaganda)

The South West Coast Path – St. Austell/Charlestown

The only hotel I splurged on during my trip was a seaside option in St. Austell. It was one night. Let me feel like a fancy person! It was right by the South West Coast Path. Holy gorgeous scenery, Batman. I only had about 24 hours there, and a good portion of it was either walking or running on this path. The rest was swooning because I was at a Poldark filming location, the Charlestown Harbour. Aidan Turner had been there. Be still, the collective female heart.

I stayed at the Porth Avallen Hotel, which is pretty close to the harbour. It was hard not to just drool from my room’s windows while pressing my face up against them, to be honest. You should stay if you get the chance. It isn’t too expensive, the people who work there are lovely, it’s such a great location, and in mere seconds, you can be a regarded as a strange running vacationer. I got up just as the sun was rising and started my run outside the hotel, went through the harbour area, and continued on up past that for about a three-mile round trip. If only it had been longer, but I needed to get to Cardiff to Doctor Who swoon. TV-related swooning takes up a disproportionate amount of my time.

You, too, can stand/run/swoon where the cast of Poldark has stood/probably not run/only swooned if they were by Aidan Turner.

I cannot stress how beautiful the coast path is. I wouldn’t have even minded if I face-planted due to completely ignoring my feet to enjoy the view. I feel like a regular conversation in this area might go, “Oh wow, how’d you lose that tooth?” “Ah, just enjoying the view too much while running on the coast path.” “Been there, my friend.” Check it out, guys!

Bute Park – Cardiff

This one I didn’t actually run. *cue the shock and horror* I had planned to get up really early on the day I took the train to London from Cardiff, but then I remembered how good sleep is. Cheating on my running shoes with pillows. Shh. Don’t tell them. I did go for evening walks in Bute Park the two nights I spent in the city. I feel like I must return just to run there, to atone for my shunning running sin. Shunning Running Sin sounds like a badass metal band, by the way.

This park is *so* green. It’s also got tons of pretty flowers and the River Taff. The place might lend itself to more dangerous staring at scenery and tripping moments. Maybe it’s good that I only walked. My teeth all survived the trip. Either way, put an early end to pillow spooning and get those running shoes on if you head to Cardiff!

I hope to head back to the UK sometime soon so I can show my running shoes even more places. They have such short lifespans. We need to expose them to as much beauty as possible before we flatten them with destination pavement pounding. For now, though, I recommend you worry your trip buddies by waking up early to run… while on vacation… at these three places. They’ll scoff, but you’ll be able to eat more than them. Who wins?!

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