If you’re trying to keep the momentum going with your January exercise regime, the flat surfaces and convivial atmosphere of a canal towpath can give you just the boost you need. And London, of course, has miles upon miles of waterside routes to choose from.
‘Running along the River Lea is, for me, one of life’s joys,’ says journalist and runner David Robinson. ‘It’s a chance to escape the hustle of London living and is often like being in the countryside, especially with all the wildlife you encounter. It’s like a green lung right at the heart of post-industrial London.’
David’s route takes him either northbound towards Walthamstow reservoirs or south to Stratford and the Olympic Park. Along the way he passes hundreds of canal boats, locks, ponds and green urban spaces.
‘As well as the fresh air and faintly rural feel, there’s something immensely calming about running by water,’ he says. ‘And because the city is always on your doorstep, there are plenty of pubs and cafés along the route so you can stop for refreshments.’
London boasts hundreds of canal-side miles on which to run, and the sport has undergone an explosion in popularity in recent years. While many pound the paths by the Thames, an increasing number of people are taking to canal towpaths for their exercise routines – or even combing their training with their commute to work.
One tried and tested route is from Hackney Wick to King’s Cross, which skirts briefly alongside the River Lea Navigation southbound to the Hertford Union Canal, then along the Regent’s Canal through Haggerston, De Beauvoir Town and Islington before reaching St Pancras Lock.
The beauty of this route is that there is an abundance of cafés and bars dotted along the way that cater for all tastes and appetites. And if you’ve worked up a thirst on the return leg, a pint of craft beer and a pizza at Crate Brewery is ample reward.
Plan your local waterway run here: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network