Friday, 19 February 2016

London Wimbledon Common Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 6.2 km (3.8 miles), terrain: flat

London Running Routes:
Best London Running Routes: Overview
Docklands-LimehouseRegent's Canal and Camden Town  
Hampstead Heath  
3-Parks Route: Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James' Park  
Regent's Park  
Hyde Park   

Chelsea
Heathrow Harmondsworth Moor  
Greenwich 

Richmond Park
Notting Hill
Victoria Park 
Wimbledon Common Trail Run 
For more running routes, see Route List. 

If you want to do some nice trail running in London, there are a few places to go: Hampstead Heath, Richmond Park, and this route, Wimbledon Common. Wimbledon is unique for its expanse of heath (sandy land covered by scrubby heather bushes). In fact, it's the biggest stretch of heath in the London area. If you want to feel like you're out in the English countryside, you'll love the Common.
Waymarker at the Common windmill
The Common offers woods, ponds, heath, a windmill, golf courses, bridle trails (for horses), and is frequented by lots of walkers and bikers. The two golf courses sit right in the middle of the Common, blocking most trails. But, in keeping with British tradition, a few public footpaths even cross the golf courses, and everyone seems to get along just fine.

Actually this public land includes not just Wimbledon Common, but also Putney Common and Putney Heath, all sitting next to each other. And, if you want to add distance to the run, it borders on the huge expanse of Richmond Park just to the west, where you can continue running through fields and ancient woods for hours.

This route is actually a bit short compared to how far you could run through the Common, but I was there during the short, dark days of late January, so things were getting dark before I could explore the other ends of the park.
The War Memorial: head straight out through the Common behind the cross
We'll start the route at the World War I memorial cross, at the southeast corner of the Common, with a big expanse of lawn off to the left, the Green.

NOTE: If you start the run at the Wimbledon tube station, you'll need to add a kilometer at each end of the run to get to/from the station. From the station, just head uphill along Wimbledon Hill Road, then keep left at the top of the hill and continue the last blocks along Wimbledon High Street to the war memorial.

At the war memorial, head northwest through that triangle of green behind it, and then continue in the same direction into the woods of the Common, following the small footpath next to the very muddy horse-riding track along Memorial Ride. In fact, almost the whole Common seems to be a giant mud puddle, so I hope you're not afraid of getting dirty!
The turnoff onto Green Ride. Did I mention the mud?
Follow the Memorial Ride path through the woods until it is crossed by a wider dirt path, the Green Ride, which is also used by bicycles (look for the blue-and-white bike-route signs).

You're now heading north through open country, with a few fields. Just before the 1.5-kilometer mark, the trail runs into Windmill Road, a dirt car road. You'll see a putting green for the Scottish golf course across the road, and a group of buildings behind it for the clubhouse and public café.
The houses around the windmill, from Windmill Way
Turn right on Windmill Road and run the few hundred meters to the turn-in for the golf course and windmill on the left. Turn left and run past the windmill and on for a few steps to the carpark behind it. The 200-year-old windmill is scenic and is now used as a museum: take a look!
The windmill without wings at the moment
Now, at the car park, turn right and head into the open heath ahead of you. Run a hundred meters and then merge onto one of the two parallel trails that head off through the heath, where Windmill Road would have continued if it hadn't turned to the east at the windmill.

You're heading north again, through some very typical landscape for wet, sandy areas in Britain. I especially love the gorse, the thorny green bushes with golden-yellow flowers. If you smell them, you'll find that they smell like coconut butter!
Off through the heath!
The two parallel trails stay within about 20 meters of each other the whole way north.

Keep running through the heath until you hear the loud road ahead, Kingston Road, at the northern corner of the Common (actually everything north of the windmill is part of Putney Common).
Kingsmere in evening light
Before you reach the road, when you enter a woods, turn left at the first chance and run past one of the Commons' ponds, Kingsmere. In the summer it can dry out, but I wasn't so lucky: huge puddles blocked the trail and my feet came out looking like big mud cakes.
My nice new Brooks!
For the next bit of the run, the trails aren't clearly marked at all. But run around the south end of the pond and towards the open heath further south in the Common. You'll come to a trail that borders the heath, heading southwest, parallel to Kingston Road. So turn right onto this trail and continue southwest.

You'll cross a riding trail and then come to a crossing foot-trail. Turn left on the footpath and run through the open heath back towards the windmill.

When you get back to the windmill parking lot, we'll run around the back side this time. Run through the parking lot, past the café, and curve to the left around the park wardens' building and through the golf course to get back to the spot where you first came to Windmill Road.

Now head back south along Green Ride again, but this time stay on it until it comes to a nice little neighborhood at the edge of the Common, on West Place.
The Green, looking back, with Rushmere Pond
Run south along West Place, and you'll see the big Green opening up before you again to the left. After a cross-street, the Causeway, take the path diagonally through the Green, heading southeast.

You'll cross Cannazaro Road, which bisects the green, then run past Rushmere Pond on your right side. After the pond turn left to get back to Wimbledon High Street and the War Memorial.

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