The true beauty of running in a city as amazing as Bristol is that it gives you the best excuse possible to get outside your door and explore the surrounding areas. If you are getting fed up with plodding your same old route, we’ve teamed up with our on-the-ground running team Southville Running Club to give you a few suggestions to spice up your training.
Trooper’s Hill Local Nature Reserve near St George is a very unusual but stunning craggy landscape overlooking the River Avon. It’s a former mining spot, so its dips and valleys are because of its former activity, and there’s plenty of natural features to keep any runner entertained in terms of scenery as well as twists and turns.
It’s not a massive area, but a few laps of the ups and downs of the hill, reaching up to the chimney, will certainly leave you gasping for breath – so you will want to make sure you stop at the top and breathe in the stunning views of Bristol.
There is so, so much more to Bristol than the inner city, local areas such as Clifton, Stokes Croft and the centre itself – although it can remain largely undiscovered if you don’t ever need to go there for a specific reason. From Thornbury to the steep hills around Dundry, the city is brimming with hidden trails and scenic runs
Keynsham, the sleepy but up-and-coming village bang in the middle of Bristol and Bath. Starting off by the leisure centre, you can make your way out to Willsbridge where you can join up with the Cycle Path. Take a turn off at Saltford and run in back toward Keynsham – et voila – a very scenic 10k. There’s even a route already mapped out online for you to follow if you’re not keen on mapping it out yourself.
Of course, you can’t mention Bristol and running without the vast grassy expanse that is the Clifton Downs. From the top of Westbury Hill to the Sea Wall, around to the Spire hospital and back to Westbury is a fairly flat route that’s about four miles (or more) in total.
The Downs is a 5k loop of the greenest grass in Bristol. With panoramic views stretching the Avon valley, this is the perfect place for some speed work too as it’s pancake flat.
The Tow Path
Do you want a longer run where you can feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city? The Tow Path is the place to go.
It’s a path that runs along the River Avon, on the opposite side of the Portway. You can see the traffic but you can’t really hear it which is a rarity in a city. As it’s an out and back route, you can go for as long or as short as you wish.
Don’t forget to look up as you will be passing under the Clifton Suspension Bridge, it’s the perfect spot for a selfie!
Clifton Suspension Bridge/Ashton Court
Clifton itself is full of hills and a really great place to run around. One good route is starting in Redland, run to Clifton Village via Whiteladies road, on to the Suspension Bridge, across to Ashton Court and back which is around 12k depending on where you start from.
It’s a beautiful route and full of hills and dips which keeps it very interesting. If you have the time or energy, Leigh Woods is a great route too.
If you want to get a flavour for the half marathon route itself, try the Portway out for size.
There are pathways along the right-hand side which overlook the Avon Gorge and it’s really pretty on a nice day out. The road itself is 6.5 miles long, so plenty of space to run!
Although it may seem endless on a dark morning, on event day it’s packed full of supporters and you’ll have the opportunity to give your fellow runners a high-five on the way back.
From Queen’s Square, run towards Bedminster, across the swinging bridge and down the left hand side of the Harbourside. It’ll bring you back around in a circular route as you reach the other bridge, near the Pumphouse pub, and run back in past the pubs and bars and back to Queen’s Square.
This 5k loop starts and finishes at the M-Shed Museum on the waterfront. It’s a simple three mile route that really shows off Bristol’s maritime heritage and perfect if you work in the city and want to fit in exercise around your job.
You can tick off some of the city’s landmarks like Brunnel’s SS Great Britain and the Redcliffe Cathedral. This route can get a little busy, especially on lunch times, so follow the water and keep it on your right side.
A personal favourite from Southville Running Club! There is an infamously long hill from the Towpath right up to the top called Nightingale Valley, and there’s a beautiful area of bluebells at this time of year down at Paradise Bottom. The woods are always busy with dog walkers and off road bikers and there’s beautiful views across to the suspension bridge and the Downs from the viewing point at the top of the woods.
There’s loads of beautiful old trees, it’s great to run there as the weather gets warmer as it’s nice and cool.
In summary, there are so many places in and around the city to run and train for the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run.
Southville Runners are a friendly group of mixed abilities and ages who just want to run with others in a more social, motivating environment. Whether you just want a gentle jog around the harbourside or are up for a faster run with a measure of hills thrown in, then they should have a group for you.
They meet at 6.10pm for a 6.15pm start every Tuesday and Thursday at the Southbank Club, Dean Lane, BS3 1DB. A token fee of 50p is charged on a per run basis in order to pay for the hire of the room and facilities at the Southbank Club. New runners are always welcome – check out their website for more information.