Liverpool is one of the most culturally rich cities in the UK, and the large green parks in the south of the city make it one of one of the world's most runner-friendly cities. The large student population living on Smithdown and Ullet Road have no excuse not to exercise, while the large residential areas of Halesowen, Allterton and Garston are also located close to a network of parks and green areas. Annual mass-participation running events include the Liverpool Women's 10km, the Rock and Roll Liverpool Marathon and Half Marathon, and the Liverpool Half Marathon.
Sefton Park, a large kidney bean-shaped park located in a district of the same name, is the city's most beautiful park, and the top place to exercise. The 235 acre site is a Grade I listed site in the English Heritage register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Located within the origional boundaries of the Royal Deer Park of Toxteth, it was designed by French landscape architect Edouard Andre. Andre won a Europe-wide competition to design a grand green space in the fast expanding Toxteth area. Sefton was opened in 1872, and Victorian and Edwardian houses were later added to overlook the outer driveway.
Street lamps light the wide packed-gravel path that circles the park, which is open 24 hours a day year round. There is a public road practically the whole way around, but it is possible to run the two and a quarter mile perimeter without having to cross traffic. There are surfaced paths within the park itself, and lots of green areas towards the northern end. The park is perfect for tempo runs and long interval workouts. The British trials for the European Cross Country Championships are held here each November, and the area also hosts regular road relay events.
This is also a great place for a picnic or a leisurely stroll. Much of the park is covered in golden daffodils in early spring. The magnificent Grade II Palm House is one of the main visitor attractions. A small cafe serves refreshments.
Weekly ParkRuns are held at the nearby Princes Park.
Otterspool Park and Promenade
Otterspool Park is a beautiful area of parkland accompanying a riverside walk, which offers stunning views across the famous River Mersey. There is a children's playground and an area suitable for kite flying. The Otters Pool and The Britannia Inn provide post-run refuelling opportunities. The area offers a very different perspective of Liverpool than do the other parks.
Suggested route: Park at Sefton and, after completing a lap of the area, leave via the Aigburth Road entrance and head for Otterspool Park and Promenade. Explore this area, before returning to Sefton, and taking Elmswood Road to Sudley Estate, a pleasant walled greenspace with a soft bark path around it's perimetre. Form here, you can take in Calderstones, or do a lap of the Wavertree Playground Mystery (Wavertree Playground), adjacent to the Liverpool Harriers-owned Watertree athletics track. Return to Sefton Park via Greenbank Park.
Calderstones is slightly smaller than Sefton, but no less attractive. The area includes beautiful ornamental gardens, a children's playground and picnic area, a lake, grass tennis courts, which host and annual tennis tournament, a mansion house, coach house gallery and stable block, and a one thousand year old oak tree. There is ample parking, a cafe and public toilets.
Runners will appreciate the low impact of the soft bark and packed dirt path that runs around the perimetre. Though the park doesn't close, it is not lit, so running here after dark is not advised. Calderstones is a suitable starting point for a longer run taking in some or all of the other parks in the area. Sections of the park are suitable for workouts.
Clarke Gardens, Camphill and Childwall Woods
Clarke Gardens is yet another beautiful green area in south Liverpool. Like Sefton, it is a sea of yellow daffodils in early spring. Together with the adjacent Simpson Ground, this area is often used for local cross country races. It can be used for grass workouts, of form part of a longer run in this part of the city.
Across the road from Simpson Ground is Camphill and Woolton Woods, the best place in South Liverpool for hill repetitions. The area is mostly grass and ideal for off-road training.
Nearby Black Wood is also popular along local runners looking to make use of the soft bark paths for off-road repetitions. Childwall Woods also has nice bark trails.
Suggested route: After doing a lap of Calderstones, take the public pathway which leads from the Yewtree entrance to Claderstones around Allerton Golf Course and onto Menlove Avenue. From here, run through Allerton Towers, into and around Clarke Gardens, around Simpson Ground and across Hillfoot Road to Camphill and Woolton Woods. You can return to Calderstones via Menlove Avenue, or take a detour via Woolton, along Acrefiled Road and Woolton Road, to Childwall Woods and Black Wood. Return to Claderstones via Druids Cross Road.
One of the forest trails in Childwall Woods
This 111 acre Grade II listed park is situated just north of the city centre between Everton and Liverpool FC's famous football grounds. The site has received Green Flag and Green Heritage Awards, and the Grade II listed Isla Gladstone Conservatory is an important attraction within the park. There is a children's playground, flower beds, a rose garden, wildlife habitats and fishing lakes.
Surfaced and unsurfaced running routes are available around the park, which is often used for Merseyside cross country fixtures. An Active Women's running group meets and trains in the park three times per week.
Croxteth Hall is located on a 500 acre nature reserve and is one of Liverpool's most important historical sites. In addition to the hall, attractions within the grounds include a working home farm, an adventure playground and a Victorian walled garden, all of which are open to the public. The grass areas and surfaced paths in the country park are ideal for running and offer adequate variety. Weekly ParkRuns are held at Croxteth.
Those looking to get out of the city altogether can head to Formby, where the beautiful beach, dramatic sand dunes and sweeping coastal pinewoods will provide ample variety, or head across the Mersey to the many coastal and cycle paths and walking trails on the Wirral.