London has been my home for about 20 years and although it is a big city and life can be fast paced, it is a paradise for runners. I was lucky enough to live close to one of London’s most beautiful parks, Battersea park. As it’s not on a tube line, it is considered a bit out of the way and is one of London’s better kept secrets. The park is about a couple of miles all around, so one doesn’t even need to go anywhere else if one is doing something like a 10k run. The most spectacular part is running along the Thames on a stretch of a bit more than 1km, in between Chelsea and Albert bridge. It’s beautiful at all times but particularly at night when the 2 bridges are lit up. I used to love running my mile repeats there as it’s beautiful and level.
Running along the river from Battersea park to Tower bridge and back, plus a lap around the park, can easily add up to a half marathon distance, car free, while taking in most of the London sites. After a warm up lap around the park take the Chelsea bridge exit and run on the bridge. Cross at the traffic lights and continue on the north side of the riverside. The iconic Battersea power station is just on your right hand side. Once you reach Vauxhall bridge turn right and cross it. At the south side and just under Vauxhall towers there is an underpass. Take this to avoid crossing at the traffic lights. The underpass will take you to the front of MI6, I was always amazed I was able to run right outside it! Keep going towards Lambeth bridge, cross this by going under the underpass and you are now heading towards Westminster bridge. On the left side you can now see the houses of Parliament and if you are lucky you can hear big Ben strike.
Go under one more underpass and you find yourself at the London eye. If you get impatient with crowds do avoid this stretch at least during weekends, unless you get there early in the morning (I think London eye rides start around 9.30). To avoid the crowds you can run for a tiny bit on the side street just behind the aquarium and the London eye and come back out right before the Southbank centre. Just past the Royal Festival Hall and National theatre there is the best view of the city of London and Saint Paul’s cathedral, spectacular, particularly at night.
Keep going and pass the Tate modern and Globe theatre, go under Southwark bridge to reach the London Bridge area. Thames path seems to end there but don’t worry, you can continue for a bit using the inside car free side streets. Just follow the road and make a slight turn to the right when reaching The Golden Hinde II boat. Go around it and continue to the right going past the statue on your right hand side. You should now be on Montague Cl that later becomes Tooley street. After running on it for a few hundred meters you want to get back out on the river path. Make a left at the earliest point (there are little passage ways between the buildings) and you will now be able to see the HMS Belfast, the Town hall on your right and Tower bridge right ahead. I have actually stopped and taken a picture once, I think it was a must! You can go under Tower bridge (we are still on the south side of the river) and keep running for a little while the streets of Bermondsey. This is how far I would run before turning back the same way to Battersea park. The is a great long run route, it is car free, flat and takes in lots of London’s most famous sites. The Garmin link to the workout can be found on:
Inside Battersea park there is the Millennium arena that has a track as well as a gym. One can join and pay a monthly fee or can pay per visit. Great spot for those 400m repeats!