Top running routes in Cardiff

January 17, 2011 4 Comments »
Top running routes in Cardiff

running feet

Trying to run off the Christmas holiday flab? Is your New Year resolution to pound the streets of Cardiff to shift a few pounds?

We’ve been taking a look through the website walkjogrun to find the five routes for taking in the sights of Cardiff and lose a bit of weight at the same time. We sent five of our reporters out to run the routes and give you a quick run-down on how the fared.

There’s routes to suit all abilities, distances and locations. If you’ve got better routes please leave a comment below or email to give us details.

Roath Park 5k

ciaran jones running in roath park

Roath Park 5k

Roath Park 5k

Start corner Rec, Around Roath and Wild Gardens, Back to opposite corner of Rec

Takes in the beautiful surroundings of Roath Park, Roath Park Lake and the Rec. Good for a Sunday morning, get out, see the ducks and maybe stop off for a quick coffee afterwards in one of the nearby coffee shops. Route by mezzomatt.

Here’s what Ciaran Jones made of the route.

Ease of access: Roath Park is one of the most accessible places in Cardiff. Near to the bustling City Road and Albany Road but also on the doorstep of Heath, the park’s size means people could pick up the route anywhere.

The route is fairly flat throughout, and would be good for a novice runner. You can run up a small hill to go through the rockery on the east side of the park, though the track is windy and rises and falls quickly.

Off road?: The route is well-paved all the way round and off-road shoes aren’t necessary – just a good pair of trainers which can absorb the shock of the pavements.

Other kit needs? The track is quite exposed so if it is windy then it is wise to wrap up warm. The route isn’t too long so carrying a water bottle shouldn’t be necessary.

Views and scenery: The best feature of the route is that it is mainly in the relative peace and quiet of the park. Running around the lake, especially early in the morning with the sun rising, is beautiful.

Room for two? The track is generally wide enough to admit at least two runners, though around the lake you could easily fit three or four. Only around the rockery does the path narrow to be wide enough only for one.

Safety factor: Another plus point of the route is that it is mainly in the park, and so traffic is not a problem. There are irritating occasions where you have to cut outside and cross roads, though.

Sweat factor: It’s not hugely demanding and probably more suited to a beginner rather than a super-fit marathon runner, but there is nothing stopping you doing two or even three laps of the 20-minute route.

Good training: This would be the ideal preparation for a 5km run, like Run for Life, and would be enough to keep the fitness of a 10km or even half marathon runner ticking over.

Fun factor: It’s a very enjoyable run, let down only by having to cross the road to get from the rec side to the lake side. The scenery is fantastic.

Post-run cool-down:
There are cafes en route for anyone who is particularly struggling, as well as a wealth of bars, pubs and eateries nearby for those hoping for a well-earned rest at the end.

Overall: 7.5/10

Danescourt 3.5 miles

james potts running the danescourt route



An urban route through Danescourt and Fairwater. Not much to see but a good run with a steep climb half way through to get those calf muscles pumping. Here’s what James Potts made of the run.

Ease of access: Easily accessible by car and close to bus routes.

Gradient: The uphill stretch from the Texaco roundabout on Llantrisant Road could have you running out of puff. Thankfully, when you turn left into Waterhall Road it’s downhill, so a chance to get your breath back.

Off road: Definitely one for trainers as it was hard surfaces all the way.

Other kit needs: I wouldn’t bother taking water, unless it was a really hot day, as it’s a relatively short distance.

Views and scenery: Mostly semi-detached homes in leafy suburbia, the main landmark being the BBC building on Llantrisant Road.

Room for two:
Pavements generally wide enough for two, although on certain short stretches you’d have to go single file where it narrows.

Safety factor: My main disappointment with the route was having to cross several roads, including traffic-clogged Western Avenue twice. It’s frustrating to stop and wait for cars to pass as it breaks up the rhythm of the run. This is why I prefer Cardiff’s parks for running.

Sweat factor: Despite the bit of uphill, it’s mostly flat, so not too difficult.

Good training: Would be ideal for someone planning their first 5k race as the route is just over that distance. If you can do this run you’ll have no trouble with a 5k.

Fun factor: Nice to try a route that was different to my usual running haunts. All runs should be fun, otherwise what’s the point?

Post-run cool-down: I suppose you could enjoy a pint in one the pubs in nearby Llandaff village, but do you really want to undo all the hard work?

Overall score: 6/10

Cardiff University/Bute Park – 5 miles

helen turner

Cardiff University 5mile

Cardiff University 5mile

The impressive buildings of Cardiff University main campus are the starting point and includes a venture into Bute Park and Pontcanna Fields, along the River Taff. Route by heywhatsthat.

Helen Turner took on the route, and gave this review:

Ease of access: I ran there from Canton, so it ended up being rather more than five miles as a round trip. The starting point is Colum Road by the Cardiff Business School, which is easy to find being just off Corbett Road and Cardiff university buildings at one end and North Road on the other.

Gradient: Very easy – the only gradients are the steps of the Western Avenue bridge from the Taff Trail and a slight gradient at the Sophia Gardens bridge and the Blackweir bridge.

Off road: ie. do you need off-road shoes?: No. The whole course is paved, jogging on pavements, park pathways and the Taff Trail. There are plenty of fields around Bute Park, if you prefer softer terrain.

Other kit needs: No.

Views and scenery: Stunning – the route passes the impressive Portland stone buildings of the university, the resplendent turrets of Cardiff Castle, and the green fields and foliage of Bute Park and Pontcanna Fields, separated by the River Taff.

Room for two: Yes, although you might need to go single file for cyclists, other joggers and pedestrians in Bute Park.

Safety factor: Very safe, from start to finish I only had to cross the road at Corbett Road and North Road to the Bute Park entrance (both had lights) and at the end of the run from North Road to Colum Road (again, there were lights).

Sweat factor: Yes – it’s a nice flat route, but five miles is a good jogging distance, especially if you run at a fair pace and also jog there and back from your home or car. From a gradient and navigation point of view I would say it’s pretty easy.

Good training: It’s good for 10k or half or marathon training. There’s plenty of space and scope around Pontcanna Fields to run an additional distance, or straight up the Taff Trail instead of crossing the river at the Western Avenue bridge. Running from Cardiff Castle to Radyr train station along the Taff Trail is not far off the distance of a half marathon.

Fun factor: Yes, and there’s plenty of nice scenery and other joggers to make you feel motivated.

Post-run cool-down: If you carry money with you while running, you’re spoilt for choice with a cafe, a mobile food and drink van and pubs nearby. The route passes Bute Park’s Summerhouse cafe near the end of the run, and earlier on the mobile van offering hot and cold drinks and snacks. The run finishes near the Blackweir Pub on North Road, which has a garden, and is also close to the Woodville student haunt on Woodville Road. A cool-down stroll away, there’s also Y Mochyn Du at Sophia Gardens.

Overall score: 10/10

Canton to Cardiff Bay – 5 miles

will bain

5 mile canton-Bay

5 mile canton-Bay

Starting in the bustling suburb of Canton, head into the city centre and then down into Cardiff Bay. With the Senedd and Millennium Centre in sight, cut back up into Grangetown and head for home. Route by LW2192. Will Bain pulled on his trainers to give it a go.

Ease of access: The route is easy to access as you could pick it up and leave the loops at your convenience, but if you want to follow it directly, catch any of the buses heading towards the Cardiff City Stadium or Cowbridge Road, or jump on the train to Ninian Park and walk the few hundred meters to the start.

Gradient: The route is generally extremely flat, apart from one or two small gradients

Off road: The route is all on solid pavements and paths.

Other kit needs? On the day I chose, a snorkel may have been a valuable addition to standard running kit, but otherwise normal equipment would suffice

Views and scenery: At the one mile mark you reach the Taff trail and this is where the real fun of this route begins. It felt like a little escape from the bustle of central Cardiff with only the sound and sight of the river as a companion. Sweeping across the river and into the Bay, the Millennium Centre creeps into view. Running through the Bay your mind is taken over by the sights rather than the running itself. The run back to the centre along Lloyd George Avenue is pretty exhilarating as the full Cardiff city centre skyline beckons you. The blinking antenna of Stadium House is a good marker to focus on as you plough up what felt like the only slight uphill section.

Room for two:
The side stepping ability of Shane Williams wouldn’t go amiss in the early part of this route as you dodge pedestrians and bins heading towards the stadium via Wellington Street and Grangetown. I attempted the route in the middle of the day and there were plenty of wayward umbrellas, buggies and casual strollers to navigate in the first mile so I would imagine this could be intensified with commuters or school children heading home. But the middle sections of the run are certainly wide enough to bring a friend along.

Safety factor: My only real frustration was both the start and end of the run were very staccato because of all the traffic lights and road crossings. I seemed to spend a lot of time doing a silly dance to try and keep my legs fresh while waiting for the lights to change! Well lit throughout, it felt safe, although perhaps the Taff trail section would be unadvisable alone after dark.

Sweat factor: This route can really be as easy or difficult as you want it to be. Perhaps the best thing about the route is it is perfect for all abilities. There are loads of points where you can shorten or extend the run to match your abilities.

Good training: At eight kilometres, the route is perfect for those building up for a 10k run and would by ideal for half marathon trainers to use as their midweek quick run.

Fun factor: I will certainly run it again, but I think the time of day you chose to run will have a say in your enjoyment.

Post-run cool-down: At the finish you can head over to the Cowbridge Road to take in your chosen method of re-hydration. There are plenty of shops to grab an isotonic drink, or if your legs and mind require a stiffer stimulant, Canton’s crawl of pubs can help you out.

Overall rating:

Tremorfa Park – 3 miles

aled blake




A short run, but takes in Tremorfa Park in the East of the city. Here’s what Aled Blake made of it.

Ease of access: Had to drive there, but don’t live in Tremorfa. Wouldn’t ordinarily go out of my way to run in Tremorfa because the parks in Roath, Pontcanna and the centre of Cardiff are the best for running.

How did you get there? I drove and parked up in the car park at Tremorfa Park.

Gradient: Pleasantly flat, the run offered very little in the way of testing hills.

Off road?: No, you stick to the paths and pavements so no need for trail shoes.

Other kit needs?: None. As per any run, change your kit depending on the weather.

Views and scenery: Not much to see apart from the heart of Tremorfa. The park is actually a very nice space to run in, though it’s no match for Cardiff’s running mecca of Bute Park and Llandaff Fields.

Room for two?: Normal pavement width for the street legs of the route, the paths in the park have more space to run along.

Safety factor: No busy roads to cross, much of the run is through Tremorfa Park so there is ample room for runners and dog walkers.

Sweat factor: Relatively easy course, a good one for beginners because of the lack of hills. A decent enough course for speed training as well.

Good training: Not an endurance course, it’s too short. But for interval training and speed training, it’s very suitable.

Fun factor: Apart from being shouted at by a group of youths and having to avoid the mountains of broken glass that litter the paths – not to mention the upturned supermarket trollies – it was OK. Being unfamiliar with Tremorfa did not help as I had to constantly revise the route.

Post-run cool-down: The little high street in Tremorfa has the usual offerings of take aways and chip shops and there is a pub nearby. But the last thing I want after a run is either a bag of chips or a pint of lager.

Overall score: 5/10

Let us know what you think of the routes we’ve picked out. Have you tried any of them? What did you think? What’s your favourite running route in Cardiff? Let us know in the comments below

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