Published: 22nd AUGUST 2019

Our favourite running routes on the National Cycle Network

Whether you’re after a quick jog or looking to hit those personal fitness goals, the National Cycle Network has plenty of routes where you can get up and running. To get you inspired, we asked our teams around the UK to give us their top spots for running on the Network.

Runner in shorts on canal towpath with narrowboats moored on the opposite bank


Flat and with a soft surface, the Pill Path on National Route 41 has been called an ideal running track, great for both short runs and extending for marathon training. The views will help take your mind off the tiredness, as you run along the Avon Gorge with the river to your side and Clifton Suspension Bridge above you.

From Bristol it’s around five miles one way to Pill, but you can extend your run to a 16-mile loop by crossing the Avonmouth Bridge and coming back along the Portway. If you really want to test yourself, you can switch to National Route 26 and follow it along to Portishead – over 11 miles one-way. 


National Route 43 cuts a largely traffic-free course through the city. For a varied, quiet and nature-rich workout, we recommend joining the path by Blawd Road and making the four-mile run to Trebanos. The connecting pathways allow you to make interesting detours, checking out the wildlife as you go (kingfishers have been sighted near this route).

Two people running along tree-lined path


National Route 23 runs north from Southampton on a mixture of on-road and traffic-free sections. One car-free portion runs through the city’s Riverside Park. For a roughly five-mile run, start at Bitterne Park Triangle, follow the route up to the White Swan pub and come back. 


With canal towpath, plentiful green spaces and a parallel train line allowing for one-way runs of your choosing, National Route 1 is a great amenity for joggers in London. The Lea Valley passes through the Olympic Park, Walthamstow Marshes and other places of interest.

For a six-mile out-and-back run, start by White Post Lane near Hackney Wick Station, splitting from the riverside path through the marshes, and continue on Route 1 until you hit Springfield Marina.

Gravel track lined with tall grass and purple flowers and blue sky above


The Brampton Valley Way on National Route 6 is a 14-mile, traffic-free route connecting Northampton with Market Harborough. For a three-mile one-way run, start at the beginning of the path in Kingsthorpe and run to the pretty village of Chapel Brampton, going through pleasant rural areas as you go. If you’re feeling really tough, you can split from the route and follow another traffic-free path to Brixworth Country Park and around Pitsford Water.


National Route 72 forms a largely traffic-free artery through Newcastle, providing a useful path for flat, out-and-back runs along the north bank of the River Tyne. Starting at the Millennium Bridge, you can run the five miles westward to Lemington and back, though the eastward route toward Percy Main (seven miles along the route) is slightly more scenic.

A runner and a cyclist pulling a pink trailer with child in it on traffic-free greenway


Passing through a National Nature Reserve and along a beach, this run on National Route 1 has to be one of the prettiest routes in the East. Start at Lady Ann’s Road, a private road by Holkham village, and you’ll come to the Norfolk Coast Path. When you get to the lifeboat station, follow Beach Road down to the seaside town of Wells-next-the-Sea – returning along the same route, this makes for a seven-mile run.


A largely traffic-free path passing through the heart of Belfast, the Lagan Towpath on National Route 9 is perfect for the city runner seeking some green space. For a 3.5-mile loop, start your run at the Lock Keeper’s Inn, following the route along the western bank of the river until you reach the footbridge at Edenderry, then return on the eastern bank. To extend your run along some interesting forest trails, you can detour at Minnowburn park. 

Alternatively, you can try running the two miles from the Lock Keeper’s Inn to Stranmillis, passing through Lagan Meadows as you go. To get some muddy trails in, cross the river and head into Belvoir Park Forest.

Two people jogging on asphalt path with trees and yellow gorse to the side


The Nidderdale Greenway is a scenic, traffic-free path, providing a four-mile one-way running route between the outskirts of Harrogate and the village of Ripley. Crossing the River Nidd on the aqueduct, you’ll have great views of the Nidd Gorge woodland, and there’s a gentle climb on the path into Ripley.


Located on the eastern side of the Upper Llynfi Valley, the Llynfi Valley Trail on National Route 885 combines stunning views with challenging gradients and varied terrain. It also passes through the Spirit of Llynfi Community Woodland, a woodland park with artworks celebrating the history of industry in the area. From Maesteg train station, the traffic-free trail to nearby Caerau is three miles one-way, though you can also do circular routes by joining any one of the waymarked running paths.

Long Itchington

Connecting Rugby, Leamington Spa and Warwick, The Lias Line on National Route 41 is a largely traffic-free and as such has plenty of spots for runners. For a 3-mile out-and-back run on wide, surfaced canal towpath, start at the Boat Inn near Birdingbury, follow the route to the village of Long Itchington and return.

Wherever you run, remember to share the space and take care if using headphones.

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