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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Top five panoramic views from London parkruns

PUBLISHED: 18:22 13 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:22 13 August 2019

The view of Canary Wharf from Mile End Stadium, the home of the Mile End parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The view of Canary Wharf from Mile End Stadium, the home of the Mile End parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. This week he reveals his top five London views

The view of the London Skyline from near the finish of the Finsbury parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONThe view of the London Skyline from near the finish of the Finsbury parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

I have always enjoyed my jaunts to the Capital, to take part in London parkruns, both to the north and south of the River Thames.

A breathtaking view is never far away, so it was difficult to whittle this down to a top five, although I have still visited only a fraction of the parkruns on offer in Greater London.

1 ALLY PALLY PARKRUN

Southwark park, the home of the Southwark parkrun, with The Shard poking up over the trees. Picture: CARL MARSTONSouthwark park, the home of the Southwark parkrun, with The Shard poking up over the trees. Picture: CARL MARSTON

One of the oldest of the 640-plus parkruns in the UK, Ally Pally was started in December, 2011 with the iconic Alexandra Palace as its backdrop, in the Borough of Haringey.

On a clear day - and it was a bright morning when I visited only last April - you are blessed with terrific panoramic views of central London from across Alexandra Park, which used to play host to horse racing from the 1860s through to its closure in 1970,

Carl's experience: suffered a nose-bleed at the end of the first of two laps, so was literally 'giving blood' on the second circuit.

Regents Canal and its towpath, with a London red bus and Canary Wharf in the distance, familiar sights at the weekly Mile End parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONRegents Canal and its towpath, with a London red bus and Canary Wharf in the distance, familiar sights at the weekly Mile End parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

2 MILE END PARKRUN

My destination of last weekend, Mile End parkrun is staged in the shadow of Canary Wharf, with its imposing One Canada Square skyscraper, the second tallest building in the UK, thrusting up into the sky.

But on a Saturday morning, all is fairly tranquil in this quarter of the Borough of Tower Hamlets, with the exception of the hundreds of runners who mill around the entrance to Mile End Stadium, just before 9am.

Mile End Stadium athletics track with the London skyline in the distance. Picture: CARL MARSTONMile End Stadium athletics track with the London skyline in the distance. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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The second half of each of the two laps has great views of Canary Wharf, while the short stretch along the towpath beside the Regent Canal is a delight.

Carl's experience: the rest of the field false-started while I was tying up my trainers! Or was I just caught napping?

The view from Alexandra Palace looking towards central London. Picture: CARL MARSTONThe view from Alexandra Palace looking towards central London. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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3 SOUTHWARK PARKRUN

The one entrant to the South of the Thames, the Southwark parkrun is the place for some Shard spotting.

Hampstead Heath, the home of the weekly Hampstead Heath parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONHampstead Heath, the home of the weekly Hampstead Heath parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

It's a little way off (about two miles away), but you can clearly see the Shard, the tallest building in the UK, from Southwark Park, in Rotherhithe.

Southwark parkrun is quite low-key, amounting to a gentle three-and-a-half-laps of the southern end of the park.

You would never guess that the River Thames was less than a mile away.

Carl's experience: I found the journey, over Tower Bridge and through Bermondsey, more taxing than the run.

4 HAMPSTEAD HEATH PARKRUN

The classic view from Parliament Hill, looking out over the London skyline with Canary Wharf and St Pauls in the distance, is actually protected by law.

The start of the parkrun is in ancient woodland, on Lime Avenue, so you don't get any of these sweeping views until you veer right and climb up in the direction of Parliament Hill viewpoint.

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Carl's experience: It was the first time I had ran at this venue since the energy-sapping mud bath that greeted me for the South of England Cross Country Championships of 2008. I preferred the five kilometres of the parkrun on firmer ground to the boggy 15 kilometres of 11 years ago.

5 FINSBURY PARKRUN

This event manages to combine the 'feel' of a bustling city event with the 'feel' of an uncongested, outdoor experience.

The views from the top of the knoll, where Londoners of the 18th century used to escape (to the remains of the old Hornsey Wood) from the smoke of the hectic, filthy city below, are breathtaking.

These days, fields of 400 or 500, and sometimes even more, make the weekly pilgrimage to the Finsbury parkrun, which is one of the oldest 25 parkruns in the UK.

Carl's experience: the steep climb up to the top of the knoll, and the promise of those good views of the London skyline, predictably took the bounce out of my legs, not that there was much bounce to start with. That was the case when I visited in March, and that remains the case now!

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