Runners can now explore 200km of mixed terrain and off-road trails in 18 spectacular forest locations across Britain.
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.
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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.
“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.”
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
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
Route: Whinlatter 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
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
Route: Staindale Lake
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
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
Route: Sherwood 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
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
Route: Salcey 5k
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
Route: Wyre Forest 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.