Get active: 200km of new running trails opened in UK’s forests

Get active this autumn by exploring one of the new mixed terrain running trails now available in forests across the UK.

Women running in forest

Runners can now explore 200km of mixed terrain and off-road trails in 18 spectacular forest locations across Britain.

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Launched by Forestry England, each trail has been designed for runners of all abilities and range from 1km to 10km in distance, with the aim of providing people with the opportunity to train on safe, traffic-free trails in beautiful forest locations and improve their health by staying active.

Bedgebury Pinetum, Kent (Photo by: David Jenner via Forestry Commission)

Rachel Tallon, Active Forests Programme Manager at Forestry England said: “We have lots of visitors who would like to run in our forests but are not familiar enough with our trails or worry about getting lost.  The new waymarked trails remove all those concerns so that runners can just enjoy the benefits of being in the forest; fresh air, wildlife, spectacular views and escape the stresses of life.

Man running through the forest
Spending time in forests is known to improve wellbeing (Photo by: The Forestry Commission)

“The different distances on offer are also a great way to build up endurance and to progress from 1k to being able to run 5k or 10k routes.”

Trudi Else, Strategic Lead at Sport England – supporters of the initiative, said: “More people than ever before are getting active by walking and running. Providing fun and practical ways for everyone to start or continue running and walking will be critical if we are to continue to boost the nation’s activity levels.

“By making running and walking through the forest more accessible many more families, friends and communities will feel confident to hit the trails, enjoy nature and benefit from being active outdoors.”

Running in the forest
Each route has been designed for runners of varying abilities (Photo by: Nathalie Desiree Mottet)

Forestry trails to explore

Alex Lines is a regular runner on the new routes at Bedgebury National Pinetum and said: “It’s easily accessible, you just follow the signs until you’re back where you started; simple! It’s also a standard distance, and as such you can repeat it whenever you like and time yourself to track progress.”

Alice Holt, Surrey

Route: Alice Holt 3k

Distance: 3k

Highlights: Gorgeous variations of tree species and multiple deer spotted regularly.

Terrain: Mixed; forest roads, trails, muddy in parts.

Challenges: Dragon Hill (check it out on Strava!)

Whinlatter Forest, Cumbria

Whinlatter forest, Cumbria (Photo by: Steve Blake)
Whinlatter forest, Cumbria (Photo by: Steve Blake)

Route: Whinlatter 5k

Distance: 5k

Highlights: Amazing Douglas fir trees, stunning views of the Lake District National Park and Grizedale Pike and the opportunity to spot wildlife including red squirrels and osprey.

Terrain: Forest road with one short section of path.

Challenges: A long climb up that takes in 210 meters of mountain ascent.

Haldon Forest Park, Devon

Route: Haldon Challenge and running route

Distance: 5k

Highlights: A lovely mixture of scenery; you get to run through the butterfly conservation area and a magical tree tunnel.

Terrain: Mixed; surface path, gravel and grass.

Challenges: Mixed terrains, steep gradients, ups and downs.

Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire

Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire (Photo by: Forestry Commission)
Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire (Photo by: Forestry Commission)

Route: Staindale Lake

Distance: 10k

Highlights: A beautiful tree tunnel and magical views across the North York Moors National Park and Langdale.

Terrain: Mixed; stoned road, footpath and grass.

Challenges: Mixed terrain and steady climb to view point.

Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Kent

Route: National Pinetum

Distance: 3k

Highlights: A stunning route through the National Pinetum, where you will run past impressive conifers and picturesque lakes.

Terrain: All weather tarmac and gravel paths.

Challenges: With a mixture of gentle downhills, and short inclines this route offers a great introduction to trail running.

Sherwood Pines, Nottinghamshire

Sherwood Pines, Nottinghamshire (Photo by: Getty Images)
Sherwood Pines, Nottinghamshire (Photo by: Getty Images)

Route: Sherwood 5k

Distance: 5k

Highlights: Mighty trees, enjoyable winding path, dense forest and wildlife.

Terrain: Mostly forest trail.

Challenges: With only slight undulations throughout the trail it is great for beginners.

Cannock Chase Forest, Staffordshire

Route: Cannock 10k

Distance: 10k

Highlights: The stunning Fairoak pools and model railway crossing.

Terrain: Mixed; flat, well surfaced trails and rougher, looser forest tracks.

Challenges: A long challenging climb (over 1km) and testing terrain.

Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire

Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire (Photo by: Getty Images)
Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire (Photo by: Getty Images)

Route: Salcey 5k

Distance: 5km

Highlights: Fast, flat, off-road surfaces will lead you through the picturesque autumnal colours created by the wide variety of tree species in the ancient woodland of Salcey. Whilst winding your way through the course you may catch a glimpse of the Druids Oaks believed to be around 400 years old.

Terrain: Mixed; a combination of forest road and surfaced trails.

Challenges: With the flat terrain the biggest challenge here is your own; can you beat your best time?

Wyre Forest, Worcestershire

Wyre Forest, Worcestershire (Photo by: Getty Images)
Wyre Forest, Worcestershire (Photo by: Getty Images)

Route: Wyre Forest 5km

Distance: 5km

Highlights: Beautiful mix of forest views; through the oak and beech trees you may spot some deer.

Terrain: Well surface forest roads, wide solid paths

Challenges: A number of steep gradients up and down with a steady uphill climb of around 200 metres to the finish.

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More information about all the new waymarked running trails can be found at forestryengland.uk/running. You can also join Forestry England’s Strava club to see how others have got on across England.