Parkruns are free, fun, and friendly – and, each week, more than nine million runners (and counting!) come together to complete 5K and 2K events in open spaces around the world.

Everyone is welcome and people can take part however they like; walk, jog, run, or a combo of all three. The events are run by volunteers who help with direction, pacing, and safety. And no one has to worry about coming last because there’s always a tail walker.

Many join local parkruns each week, while others enjoy ‘parkrun’ tourism – travelling the UK and beyond to try new courses with varying terrain and scenery. Whether the latter applies to you, you’re a parkrun newbie, or you’ve got a favourite parkrun but fancy running somewhere different, we’ve pulled together a list of routes to inspire you.

Where did parkrun begin?

Parkrun started on a chilly autumn morning in 2004. A small group of 13 enthusiastic runners, supported by five dedicated volunteers, gathered in the windswept expanse of Bushy Park in Teddington, UK.

This humble beginning was the brainchild of visionary founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt. For nearly two years, parkrun was this single event, until the team developed a cookie cutter approach which they used to run more events – first in Wimbledon and then further afield.

How does parkrun work?

Parkrun is completely free and you only need to register online once to take part in different events everywhere. To register (which takes a few short minutes), simply click the button below.

Once registered, a barcode is added to your account. When you finish your run, your barcode will be scanned by a volunteer and, later that day, you’ll be emailed your running time.

To date, there are 1,265 parkruns around the country – simply visit the parkrun website to find your nearest event. Here, you’ll find the dates and times and address of each parkrun, as well as details about the course.

Children under 11 must be accompanied by an adult (within an arm’s reach) during 5K park runs. Alternatively, children aged 4-14 years old can take part in junior park runs. These are 2K courses where children don’t have to be accompanied by an adult.

Dogs can also take part in many parkrun events, though it must be one dog per person, on a short lead.

13 of the UK’s most scenic parkruns

With such a huge number of parkruns out there, it can be tricky to know which ones to try next. So to help you out, here are 13 of our favourites.

1. Bushy Park, London

Bushy Park, London

Set in a scenic royal park, this original event offers a flat, fast single-lap course enjoyed by both beginners and experienced runners. As the birthplace of the global parkrun movement, Bushy Park parkrun holds a special place in the running community and continues to inspire new parkrun events worldwide. It’s hugely popular as a result, so it’s recommended you get there early and allow plenty of time for parking.

The diverse and picturesque landscape here boasts ancient trees, vibrant wildflower meadows, and serene water gardens – while roaming herds of tame red and fallow deer only add to the park’s natural charm.

2. Delamere Forest, Cheshire

Delamere Forest, Cheshire

Delamere parkrun takes place in the heart of Cheshire’s largest woodland, offering runners a gorgeous natural backdrop. The one-and-bit lap course follows well-maintained trails that meander through towering trees, with sunlight filtering through the canopies, creating dappled patterns on the forest floor. Runners also pass by Blakemere Moss, where reflections of surrounding trees shimmer on the water’s surface.

The seasons bring spectacular transformations here too: spring carpets of bluebells, summer’s lush greenery, autumn’s golden hues, and winter’s frosty landscapes. Wildlife sightings are also common, from woodland birds to occasional deer.

3. Mole Valley, Surrey

Mole Valley, Surrey

Mole Valley parkrun is held at the renowned Denbies Wine Estate, nestled in the heart of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The undulating one-lap course begins near the winery buildings, quickly leading runners into the sprawling vineyard (the largest in England) where wonderful views of the North Downs – including Box Hill – are visible in the distance.

Depending on the season, runners may see the vines in various stages, from spring buds to autumn’s golden leaves and plump grapes. And when you’ve finished your run, why not have a quick change and enjoy Denbies’ wine tasting tour?

4. Dolgellau, Snowdonia

Dolgellau, Snowdonia

Dolgellau parkrun, in West Wales, is known for its friendly atmosphere and challenging undulating terrain. Established more recently than many other parkruns, it’s quickly become a popular event for locals and visitors alike. It follows a unique route along the picturesque Mawddach Estuary, treating runners to sweeping views of mist-shrouded mountains and tranquil waters.

The course is two laps along the hard packed, unsealed paths of a disused railway line, and through lush woodlands and open fields. The ever-changing scenery, from the rugged peaks of Cadair Idris looming in the distance to the gentle flow of the estuary, is what makes Dolgellau parkrun feel particularly special.

5. Aviemore, Cairngorms

Aviemore, Cairngorms

Aviemore parkrun stands out for its stunning Highland setting in the Cairngorms National Park. The 5km gravel path winds through the picturesque Glenmore Forest, offering runners breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the ethereal Loch Morlich.

This one-lap course combines broadleaf woodland, coniferous forest, and heather moorland – plus, the chance to spot local wildlife, like red squirrels and deer! Post-run, many gather at the nearby Route 7 Café, fostering a warm community spirit.

6. Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest, Kent

Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest, Kent

This hilly, forest parkrun, set in Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest, is one of Kent’s best. Established in the 1920s, the Pinetum spans over 320 hectares and houses over 12,000 trees from across the globe, including many rare and endangered species. It serves as an essential seed bank and research facility for tree conservation.

Bedgebury parkrun is run on a mixture of forest tracks and trails, through diverse landscapes; from serene lakes to dense forests. It offers year-round beauty, too, with vibrant autumn colours, spring blooms, and majestic evergreens. The forest is also home to Go Ape, which has plenty of zip lines and treetops ropes courses for adventure-seekers – so why not make a day out of it?

7. Portrush, Northern Ireland

Portrush, Northern Ireland

Portrush parkrun offers a spectacular seaside running experience on Northern Ireland’s north coast. The 5km course starts and finishes at East Strand beach, treating participants to lovely views of the Atlantic Ocean. Runners follow a mostly flat there-and-back route along the golden sand, with the waves crashing nearby.

The backdrop includes the iconic Portrush townscape and distant views of the Giant’s Causeway coastline. This parkrun is known for being the first beach park run in the world to be run entirely on sand – so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a new challenge!

8. Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

Fountains Abbey parkrun, in North Yorkshire, offers a captivating running experience through a UNESCO World Heritage site. The 5km course snakes through the stunning grounds of the 12th-century Fountains Abbey and the Georgian water gardens of Studley Royal; one of the most historic and beautiful places in Europe.

The route combines flat paths with gentle inclines, providing a varied terrain against a backdrop of extraordinary historical significance. Runners pass by ancient ruins, tranquil lakes, and meticulously landscaped gardens. This parkrun is known for its breathtaking scenery in all seasons, too, from spring blossoms to autumn foliage.

9. Eden Project, Cornwall

Eden Project, Cornwall

If you’re a fan of the eden project or just enjoy park runs with an unusual twist, the Eden Project parkrun might be for you. Runners zigzag their way through the diverse landscapes of this ecological attraction; passing by the huge mesmerising biomes (which you can explore for free once the event is over).

The course is two and a bit laps, and quite hilly, but the paths are concrete throughout, with many runners saying that it was nice not to have to worry about what was underfoot. It’s also worth noting that the Eden Project is located in a crater, which, in addition to the hills, means the air is much stiller – so prepare to be warm!

10. Pittville Park, Cheltenham

Pittville Park, Cheltenham

Cheltenham parkrun takes place in a picturesque setting, showcasing the beauty and Regency-era charm of one of the area’s finest green spaces. Participants start their two hilly laps near the boathouse, then loop around the western lake, where swans and ducks often glide across the water.

A highlight is passing the grand Pittville Pump Room, an iconic Grade I listed building with an impressive colonnade. You’ll also run by majestic mature trees, including oaks and horse chestnuts, leaves rustling overhead. And, in spring, runners can enjoy blossoming trees and daffodils, while autumn brings a canvas of golden and russet hues.

11. Lews Castle, Isle of Lewis

Lews Castle, Isle of Lewis

Lews Castle parkrun begins in Lewes Castle’s outer bailey, immediately immersing you in the town’s rich medieval heritage. The out-and-back course circles around the castle mound, with its imposing Norman keep towering above, before taking you through the picturesque streets of Lews that reflect the town’s centuries-old architecture. This includes the steep cobbled lane of Keere Street, which offers stunning views of the South Downs.

While running through sections of the tranquil Southover Grange Gardens, you can also admire neat lawns and vibrant flower beds before heading back towards the castle grounds.

12. Whinlatter Forest, Lake District

Whinlatter Forest, Lake District

Set in the heart of the Lake District National Park, Whinlatter Forest parkrun takes place in England’s only true mountain forest, offering a challenging and beautiful 5km route. Runners start near the visitor center, quickly ascending into the dense coniferous woodland along well-maintained forest trails.

Rumoured to be the toughest and hilliest parkrun in the UK, the trail climbs steadily, and alternates between shaded woodland and open areas that offer pretty scenes of Derwentwater and the surrounding mountain ranges. While soaking in the views, remember to also look out for the rare red squirrel darting among the trees!

13. Belton House, Grantham

Belton House, Grantham

Belton House parkrun takes place in the stunning grounds of Belton House, a 17th-century National Trust property in Lincolnshire. The event starts near the mansion, a striking example of Restoration architecture before weaving through the formal Italian and Dutch gardens, past manicured lawns and vibrant flowerbeds.

It’s a lovely open two-lap course on the grounds of Belton house – set mostly on grass with a bit of path and plenty of space. Belton Estate is also home to a 1300-acre deer park, so you’ll probably see some deer running about too!

Final thoughts…

Parkrun has become a global phenomenon that’s about more than just exercise – it’s also about fostering community spirit and inclusive fitness.

These 13 scenic UK parkruns are great examples of the diverse and beautiful settings that make each event unique. Whether you’re a seasoned parkrunner seeking new challenges or a newcomer looking for a welcoming introduction to communal running, these picturesque courses offer something for everyone.

By combining the joy of outdoor activity with the beauty of varied landscapes, parkrun continues to inspire millions to lace up their shoes and join in, regardless of ability or experience. So why not step out and discover the scenic wonders of parkrun for yourself? Your next Saturday morning adventure awaits!

Do you attend parkrun events? Which one is your favourite? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.