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Running Holidays 2022: The UK’s Top 10 Most Popular Trails for Active Staycations

A new index by HOKA has revealed the most popular running trails across the UK according to online searches, hashtags and reviews. 

Analysing Google search data for 40 UK running trails, thousands of Instagram hashtags and the percentage of 4 and 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor, the performance footwear brand has identified the 10 most popular running trails in the UK. The research also took into account the length and difficulty level of each trail. 

Experts at HOKA found that England has the most popular trails in the UK with four trails placing in the top five.

England also has the most trails with the highest difficulty level with Gordale Scar and Polesden Lacey scoring a 10 out of 10 due to their rocky and muddy terrain.

The longest path on our list is Wales Coast Path with a length of 870 miles – taking the average runner 12 to 14 days to complete, followed by the South West Coast Path with a total length of 630 miles.

Whether running for fun or to beat a PB, more and more people are becoming running addicts with ‘running’ being searched every 30 seconds in the UK.

From a short jog around the park to training for a marathon, running is a great way to not only stay healthy but to meet new people, and connect with yourself and with nature. 

To inspire runners across the country, HOKA has shared the top 10 most popular running trails across the UK.

Top 15 Running Trails

The UK’s most popular running trails

  1. Arthur’s Seat – Securing the top spot in the running trails index, Arthur’s Seat in Scotland is the most popular running trail across the UK with a final score of 9.7/10. This ancient volcano is the main peak of the group of hills in Edinburgh and boasts 360° views of the city. With 90,500 Google searches a month on average and 287,000 tags on Instagram, this short trail of 2.4 miles in length is classified as moderate to difficult, making it accessible to most runners. 
  2. Box Hill – Box Hill, situated in Surrey, takes second place with a final score of 7.3/10. This eight-mile National Trust landmark with moderate difficulty level will test the limits of novice runners with little experience in running hilly routes. The scenic trail leads runners through grassland and wooded canopy to the Thames Downs Link Path.
  3. South West Coast Path – With a total length of 630 miles, the South West Coast Path ranks in third position with a final score of 6.4/10. A huge 96% of the reviews on TripAdvisor are four and five star, reflecting the beauty of the locations that form this path starting in Somerset and spanning the coast of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.  The difficulty level of this path is low to moderate, scoring three out of ten in the index, and it has been tagged on Instagram 212,000 times. 
  4. Helvellyn – The Helvellyn mountain in the Lake District sits in fourth position with a final score of 6.4. While its popularity on Instagram is slightly lower with just 87,800 tags, this scenic location ranks very highly for 4 and 5-star reviews scoring a whopping 9.4 out of ten. Runners taking in the Lakeland Trails will wind through ancient woodlands and dramatic fells, while surrounded by views of Ullswater and the vistas of surrounding peaks. 
  5. Malham Cove Walk – In fifth position is Yorkshire’s Malham Cove with a total score of 6.1. This trail has one of the highest scores for TripAdvisor reviews, with 98.4% 4 and 5-star reviews. It is one of the most searched trails on Google with 49,500 searches on average per month. Situated in the Yorkshire Dales, the limestone landscapes offer a variety of opportunities for runners of all abilities with well marked trails to more rugged uphill climbs along limestone and moors, there is a challenge to suit all beginners and seasoned runners alike. 
  6. West Highland Way – This 96-mile footpath is the first official Scottish trail created. Beginning on the outskirts of Glasgow and travelling north through the Highlands, the trail ends at Fort William while taking in beauty spots such as Loch Lomond and Ben Nevis en route. With a high difficulty level of 7/10, runners will be tested by its rocky terrain and steep ascents. 
  7. Elan Valley – The first Welsh running trail to appear in the top ten list, Elan Valley boasts stunning views of the six man-made reservoirs and dams, as endorsed by the 1,286 of four and five-star reviews on TripAdvisor. This trail is the most popular Welsh trail in our index with 22,200 Google searches per month.
  8. Pennine Way – This National Trail takes visitors from Derbyshire all the way to Scotland on its 268 miles route. While the full trail would take a seasoned long-distance runner around 10-15 days to complete, runners will experience views of Hadrian’s Wall, High Cup and the Cheviot while crossing some of the UK’s finest landscapes such as the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines. This path is one of the three in our index to receive 100% 4 and 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor. 
  9. Wales Coast Path – Ranking in ninth position is Wales Coast Path, with 87,000 tags on Instagram and 4,400 Google monthly searches. This is the first path to cover the entire length of a country’s coastline and the longest path on the list with a length of 870 miles. For runners looking for a slightly shorter run, consider Holy Island Marathon in Anglesey – an island off an island that makes for a natural marathon distance loop with 8 miles on road and 23.6 miles off-road surfaces. 
  10. South Downs Way – Rounding off the top ten is South Downs Way with a final score of 4.7 out of ten. Taking in some of the South’s most stunning views, from the chalk cliffs of Seven Sisters and Beachy Head to the rolling hills of Ditchling Beacon, this extraordinary way dominates 96.2% of 4 and 5-star reviews in TripAdvisor and has been tagged 74,700 times on Instagram. This 99.4-mile route would take almost 8 days for a runner to complete it.