Readers' Top 10 UK Races: Scenery

The most scenic British races of 2009 - as voted by you, the runners who ran them


Posted: 25 February 2010
by Alice Palmer

1. Snowdonia Marathon

Where? Gwynedd When? October

A world away from bustling urban races, the Snowdonia Marathon leads runners on a demanding rural route circling Snowdon, Wales' highest peak. You'll be rewarded with panoramic views down the valley along the way, and crossing the Pass of Llanberis is a particularly awe-inspiring experience - you'll be able to see in all directions over the stark landscape. The race's October setting can spell inclement weather, but whatever the conditions, keep your head up and immerse yourself in the glorious scenery around the course.

"This race may not have the glitz & glam of London but what you get for your money is a challenging race, in stunning scenery, a very friendly atmosthere and an appreciative crowd." carrot top

Reader Reviews

2. Rhayder 'Round The Lakes' 20

Where: Powys When: March

The timing of this 20-mile road race makes it perfect spring-marathon preparation, but that’s not the only thing that’s been drawing in runners from all over the UK for 25 years. The calm lakeside course, peaceful pine-covered forests – and breathtaking views from the top of the race’s tough climb – make the Round the Lakes 20 a sight to behold. The contours of the Elan Valley mean it’s not all easy going, but there are enough downhills and dramatic crests to allow you to appreciate the beautiful rural scenery.

"Sunny, gritty and exhausting: this race is a must-do! With hills from hell and scenery to rival the best in the world this race is a joyous mix of pleasure and pain." Welsh Alex

Reader Reviews | Enter 2010 Race

3. Lomas Distribution Buxton Half-Marathon

Where: Derbyshire When: June

The Peak District more than lives up to its name in this taxing road course – there’s no let-up as runners are led on a winding lap with precious few flat sections. But the hard work you'll expend on the long uphill drags and quad-busting downhills is more than rewarded with glorious scenery. And if the stunning views aren’t motivation enough to pack your trainers and head to Buxton, you can look forward to a warm welcome from the locals, whose enthusiastic cheering adds to the race’s friendly atmosphere.

"One of the hardest road races around, but well worth the effort  - it has some of the most glorious countryside in the UK. Can best be described as challenging and hilly, not for the faint-hearted." Cake

Reader Reviews | Enter 2010 Race

4. Hawkshead Trail 15K

Where: Cumbria When: April

Winding through some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside in the heart of ‘Beatrix Potter country’, the Hawkshead Trail 15K is more than just a tough trail course. Part of the slick and popular PUMA Lakeland Trails series, there’s something for everyone – whether you join Nordic walkers and joggers or press-gang your family into the children's fun runs, the welcoming atmosphere gives the day the feel of a running festival. The start and finish arena features a huge array of family-friendly fun, with live music, food stalls, face painting and even a bouncy castle.

"Love the course - which gives you a lift with gorgeous views just when you're starting to feel the bite; love the atmosphere - which is friendly, cheerful and organised; and love the smiles!" happy little vegemite

Reader Reviews | 2010 Race Details

5. Meon Valley Plod 20

Where: Hampshire When: April

Runners' suggestions that the Meon Valley Plod 20 "should be re-named the Meon Valley Cake-athon" reflect the race’s unparalleled catering, but be warned - the tough course means you’ll have more than cake on your mind. It's a 20(ish) mile cross-country circumnavigation of East Meon, whose taxing climbs and equally steep descents lay on panoramic views over some of the South Downs’ finest scenery. The water stations are laden down with a staggering selection of cakes, hot drinks, jelly babies and fruit – and you’ll even find a tot of invigorating rum at the summit of the formidable Butser Hill.

"At Mile 18 you'll hurt - at the finish you'll have forgotten the pain! A gruelling race but one of the best - some very steep climbs followed by some steep descents but with amazing scenery and an excellent atmosphere." RossPortsmouth

Reader Reviews | 2010 Race Details

6. North Downs 30K

Where: Kent When: June

First staged in July 1984, the North Downs Run is one of Kent's most enduring and popular running events, and not without reason – the out-and-back course passes through some of the beautiful scenery of the North Downs. Its undulating paths and tracks thread through woods, fields and parkland in a vista of summer colours – blue skies, red poppies and the welcoming green of shady woodland paths. You’ll dash through sleepy hamlets before being treated to jaw-dropping vistas over the Thames Estuary in the distance. Not only that, the race lays on free pre- and post-race massage, homemade cakes, fruit and water, a well-stocked running goods tent, and four sizes of finisher T-shirt.

"This race has it all: scenery, organisation, friendliness and lots of extras, all of which contribute to the biggest Feel Good Factor I have experienced in my 30 years as a runner." Jonathan Dobson

Reader Reviews | Enter 2010 Race

7. Bookham 10K

Where: Surrey When: February

With 285m of ascent and descent, the Bookham 10K is far from an easy ride - the playful, weaving course takes runners through some of the North Downs' most fabulous scenery on a muddy cross-country trail around Bookham Woods. The views offer ample distraction from the race's ups and downs, and be sure to stop and take in the picture-postcard views when you reach St Barnabas-in-Ranmore Church - the historic building marks the single-lap race's topographical and scenic high-point.

"Why have a lie-in on a Sunday morning when you can complete such uplifting challenge?!
I enjoyed the snow, ice, cold muddy puddles and very tough conditions - great atmosphere at the finish too, thanks to all the kids for their cheering and support." Karen Ayers

Reader Reviews

8. Ultimate Cartmel Trail Race

Where: Cumbria When: March

Not many runners can resist the chance to run through ancient woodlands nestled in the stunning setting of the Lake District. Fewer still can turn down an authentic Cartmel Sticky Toffee pudding. This fixture offers both, as well as panoramic views over the surrounding Lakeland peaks and away to Morecambe Bay. Be prepared to earn your pudding as you plough through the mud and over varied terrain - or just slow down, take it easy and enjoy your peaceful surrounds.

"Another great day in the Lakes! Very tough and quite demanding, but that just makes the sticky toffee pudding guilt-free! Totally knackering but a real sense of achievement." Rob Whiston

Reader Reviews | 2010 Race Details

Coniston Trail 15K

9. Coniston Trail 15K

Where: Cumbria When: October

The Coniston Trail 15K is a fitting climax to the PUMA Lakeland Trails series, passing as it does through some of the Lake District’s most dramatic scenery. The circuit climbs out of Coniston on well-marked footpaths and bridleways, culminating with spectacular views across Coppermines valley. You'll encounter a variety of terrain, from dirt tracks to steep rocky descents and wet boggy paths but on the course’s smoother stretches, make the most of panoramic vistas over Lake Coniston and the surrounding peaks of the Old Man, Swirl How, Wetherlam and Dow Crags. You'll then be treated to a long descent to the finish through Torver woods.

"A privilege to run with such support in these fabulous surroundings. Only my second Lakeland Trail but I am hooked!" Glyn Roberts

Reader Reviews | 2010 Race Details

10. Baxters Loch Ness Marathon

Where: Highland When: October

Sample a variety of town and rural scenery, from the wilds of the Highlands to the heart of Inverness, in the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon. The course follows a point-to-point route through stunning mountain scenery, before dropping down to trace the south-eastern shores of Loch Ness and lead runners to a track finish in Inverness Queens Park Stadium. You’ll also be treated to traditional Highland hospitality, with a pre-race pasta party, live ceilidh music and activities for younger supporters.

"Fun, fab & Fantastic! An exceptional marathon in every sense. This was my second Loch Ness  and it won't be the last. See you next year!" Mooey

Reader Reviews | 2010 Race Details

How the results were calculated

This list was calculated using 2009 race ratings given by respondents on www.runnersworld.co.uk after they took part in the races. We worked out the average of the 'scenery' rating runners gave races, to arrive at a figure between 0 and 100%, allowing us to rank them. NB: We have only included races with at least 25 responses and where a race appeared on more than one Top 10 chart, it was only included in the chart where it had the highest ranking.


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