Running in a city can be quite overwhelming, especially if you’re just visiting or have recently moved in. I’ve now been running around Bristol for about two years now, and am still discovering great places to run in the city. Here is a little whistle-stop tour of all those places, they’ll be in no particular order as each place has its uses.
Running in this place is fairly well known, especially as on Saturdays it traditionally hosts a Parkrun. The ground is home to lots of deer, a few pens you can run through if you wish, but the majority of paved routes take you up the hill and through the golf course at the top. There are wooded areas with trail paths through, but these do not last long. When it is not peak times, the two car parks will give you ample of room should you wish to drive over before your run, but there are also a few spots near the cafe to lock your bike up if you cycle over. The gates do get locked overnight and this time changes depending on the season, so check the councils website if you’re an early morning/late night runner to be sure you can access the grounds. If you choose to run here be aware, it is a hill! There’s no way to get around that but the views you can see of Bristol on the way up and down are pretty spectacular.
As the name suggests this location is in the east of Bristol and hosts another of the cities Parkruns. The park has a little gradient, and to get in the 5km for a Parkrun you go around the park about 3 times. The park has a little boating pond at the bottom too so can give you a little bit of variation within your run. This is more gentle on your shins than Ashton Court, because the gradient is at a lesser percentage and it goes on for less distance. Definitely one to check out if you want a gentle run around the park.
Bristol to Bath Path
Most commonly the Bristol to Bath path is used for commuters cycling too and room work, however it provides a very flat path away from traffic. With plenty of entrances/exits to the path you can do just a section to do or do the whole path, great for anyone training for longer distances. On sunny days it does get a little clogged with families out cycling or walking so you will need to be respectful and overtake with care. It is also quite a distance to get to if you live near the southwest/west of the city. The path overs up views of the countryside and many little railway stations which can be really nice to run past, you almost forget how close you are to the city.
As an alternative to the Bristol to Bath path, the towpath runs to the west of the city. Along the towpath you’ll come across lots of rocky and muddy terrain near the start of the path. It does become a little easier to run over as you get of Bristol. If you’d prefer to run along the rocky/muddy path you can also choose to run along Portway, just the other side of the river. You will be running next to the main road for a little bit though so it isn’t quite as peaceful as the towpath is. This another good option for those training for longer distances as it will take you all the way over to Portishead.
From the towpath you can get to Leigh Woods, which is a very good place to get in some trail running. The woods have a few different paths that you can take of varying length, with lots of terrain changes. Be sure to bring your trail shoes and watch out for some slippery rocky descents. Keep an eye out for mountain bikers and try not to get lost!
Community Forest Path
This path is a 45 mile trail on the outskirts of Bristol. It is another trail running route, taking you through lots of fields, brambles, and general countryside. form the bits of the path I’ve done, I think it’s fair to say that it’s best to go out with a map, as the signs can be very hard to find and navigate, it also isn’t shy when it comes to sharp inclines! The route offers runners the chance to experience rural running and the challenges that come with that, as well as taking you through places like Ashton Court and over the Clifton Suspension bridge.
A haven for office lunch breaks the harbour side provides almost perfect 5km loop around the harbour. The route isn’t too hilly and gives you much needed space to move in the city. As you run around the harbour you can almost be lulled into thinking you’re in a quaint little fishing town (almost). The route takes you pass the mooring site of the S.S. Great Britain.
Located in South Bristol, this park is right next to a sports centre so is great for any triathletes wanting to double up on sessions using a spin bike or swimming in the pool. It is also home to Great Run Local, a free running event for which I’m one of the Event Coordinators. The park is located around an old airport runway and can comfortably fit in a 5km loop by looping in a few of the different areas. On Sundays with Great Run Local, we have runners doing 3 laps of our mile loop as this means the whole run is on tarmac, but if you don’t mind surface type the rugby pitches and mounds offer a bit more variation.
This is actually one of the only locations on this list that I don’t have personal experience running on. Located near the Clifton Suspension bridge the spot is popular with runner as it has lots of paths you can take. It’s also on the top of the hillside so gives you views towards the city, river, and Leigh Woods. There’s a little bike parking, one reason why I’ve never braved it, and is on top of a steep climb. You can make the climb a little less daunting by taking the long way in but that will give you more distance. The location is large though, so if you don’t like looping you can get in a 5km without repeating any part of your run.
So there you have it, 10 great places to have a go at running in Bristol. If you give any of them a try be sure to let me know what your experience of them was, or if you any other secret places to run in Bristol. For more regular updates on my own running, including where I’m running, feel free to go and follow me on Strava or Instagram. I’ve also put a few YouTube videos out there giving you a few tips to improve your running!