5 Top UK Hill Runs
Emily Woodhouse

We asked Emily to take a deep dive on some of the best hill runs in the UK and what better place to start than with some of our competitors and athletes? If you don’t see your favourite here, be sure to let us know what we’re missing out on and we’ll be sure to check it out!

OMM asked me to find some of the best fell and hill running routes in the UK, according to a pick of their athletes and competitors. (That’s our favourite fell runners’ favourite fell runs… try saying that five times fast.) If you’re looking for a starting point or inspiration for some new trail runs, then you could do a lot worse than try these suggestions. Or, better still, take note of a common theme that emerges: it’s the hills nearest that become our dearest. In your search for the best fell run, perhaps the answer is found on the map around your house – or by gazing out of the window!

1. The 7 Hills Loop, Yorkshire Wolds

Ultr trail racer and mountain enthusiast Runar Sæther says, “East Yorkshire does not have any big hills but luckily I live in a village on the Yorkshire Wolds and have access to some nice trails straight from our house. My favourite loop is probably ‘The 7 Hills”. The original race route starts from the outskirts of the village of Elloughton, but I usually run from my home in South Cave. The loop is roughly 12km with about 500m of climb, so nothing crazy. No big climbs, but more of an undulating run where you constantly shift gears – going up and down. There are great views of the villages and the Humber and some smooth woodland trails. Unless it is muddy of course…”

Long runnable descents and impressive dramatic views, whatever the weather – all the things I want on a day in the fells.

2. Kentmere Horseshoe, Lake District

Sarah Gerrish is an avid fell runner, as well as the founder and curator of the Wonderful Wild Women community. “One of my favourite hill running routes is the Kentmere Horseshoe,” says Sarah. “At 20km it can be a big day out, but the route offers a lot of variation and options to adapt. Technically underfoot it is quite rough in places but overall, the route provides steep climbs, long runnable descents and impressive dramatic views, whatever the weather – all the things I want on a day in the fells.”

The route is a mix of long grinds, steep pulls, fast descents, technical running, and consequences, all with glorious views. What’s not to love?!

3. Back o’ Grassmoor / Coledale Horseshoe, Lake District

Another entry for a classic Lakeland round, Oliver Perratt of Mercia Fell Runners and The Green Runners picked the Coledale round as his favourite UK fell run. He wasn’t the only one who had it in their top three either. “The whole Grasmoor massif is wonderful, between Crummock, Whinlatter and Newlands. It’s a mix of technical craggy rock, fast grassy slopes and amazing ridges,” he says. “An extended Coledale Horseshoe, highlights the best of this area. The route is a mix of long grinds, steep pulls, fast descents, technical running, and consequences, all with glorious views. What’s not to love?!”

“The real star of the route is along the ridgeline over Causey Pike and down Rowling End. It’s a wonderful melange of single track and craggy drops: pummel down The Scar to Sail, throw yourself down to the pass, skip along the stony track, batter down the rocks – taking in the glorious ridgeline to finish with a bone breaking descent to the road – heather obscuring the way with each drop, turn, rock and root a surprise to react to. Oh, the joy! I’m planning to race the Coledale Horseshoe this year, which cuts out Causey Pike but will hopefully be just as enjoyable in competition.”

Once I’ve got to the top, tapped and said hello to the trig point I’m then rewarded with very fun blast back down!

4. Grenoside Woods, Sheffield

Ultra trail runner and tattoo artist Richard Lazenby says, “My favourite hill to run isn’t in a race or a well known big monster of a mountain, it’s the hill I run from my own front door most days on my training runs. It’s a long steady climb up through woodland and bike trails to the high trig point in Grenoside woods. Over the 7 or so kilometres it takes to get up there I’m probably only climbing 280 metres but it feels different every time I do it.”

“Whilst climbing up you also get a fantastic view of the ever changing Sheffield landscape. Once I’ve got to the top, tapped and said hello to the trig point I’m then rewarded with very fun blast back down! Absolutely brilliant fun!”

No wonder Wainwright himself classed this as a favourite!

5. Whitbarrow, Lake District

Run coach Rowan Wood suggests a fell close to home too: “I may be biased as it’s my local fell, but Whitbarrow Scar is one of the finest outlying fells of the Lake District. A full 360 panorama from the top gives you views to the Lake District mountains, the Howgills, the Dales, the Forest of Bowland and Morecambe Bay. There is a multitude of paths taking you all over this hill meaning you can run a different route each time, and the fast draining limestone means good running year round. No wonder Wainwright himself classed this as a favourite!”

So there you have it: five excellent UK hill runs to try out one day. But wait – there’s more! We had a quick whip around the OMM staff to see what they thought was missing. So add to your list of fells & hills: the scenic Box Hill in Surrey, the iconic Roseberry Topping in North Yorkshire and the imposing Arthur’s Seat just outside of Edinburgh.

As for horseshoes and skylines… Well you’ve got your work cut out. The Fairfield Horseshoe comes strongly recommended by the team – and is another classic Lakeland round. The Ilkley Skyline also made it top top of the Yorkshire contingent’s list: a 22 mile moorland loop around Ilkley in West Yorkshire. In Wales, the Bochlwyd Horseshoe comes in highly recommended for an all day scrambling adventure across Tryfan and the Glyderau to circumnavigate Llyn Bochlwyd. Pick a dry day for that one! Or to go a bit longer, how about the Peris Horseshoe, that encompasses the soaring mountain trails on either side of the road between Llanberis and Pen-y-Pass.

If none of those inspire you, we don’t know what will. Now, that’s enough reading… go run up a hill!

We asked Emily to take a deep dive on some of the best hill runs in the UK and what better place to start than with some of our competitors and athletes? If you don’t see your favourite here, be sure to let us know what we’re missing out on and we’ll be sure to check it out!

OMM asked me to find some of the best fell and hill running routes in the UK, according to a pick of their athletes and competitors. (That’s our favourite fell runners’ favourite fell runs… try saying that five times fast.) If you’re looking for a starting point or inspiration for some new trail runs, then you could do a lot worse than try these suggestions. Or, better still, take note of a common theme that emerges: it’s the hills nearest that become our dearest. In your search for the best fell run, perhaps the answer is found on the map around your house – or by gazing out of the window!

1. The 7 Hills Loop, Yorkshire Wolds

Ultr trail racer and mountain enthusiast Runar Sæther says, “East Yorkshire does not have any big hills but luckily I live in a village on the Yorkshire Wolds and have access to some nice trails straight from our house. My favourite loop is probably ‘The 7 Hills”. The original race route starts from the outskirts of the village of Elloughton, but I usually run from my home in South Cave. The loop is roughly 12km with about 500m of climb, so nothing crazy. No big climbs, but more of an undulating run where you constantly shift gears – going up and down. There are great views of the villages and the Humber and some smooth woodland trails. Unless it is muddy of course…”

Long runnable descents and impressive dramatic views, whatever the weather – all the things I want on a day in the fells.

2. Kentmere Horseshoe, Lake District

Sarah Gerrish is an avid fell runner, as well as the founder and curator of the Wonderful Wild Women community. “One of my favourite hill running routes is the Kentmere Horseshoe,” says Sarah. “At 20km it can be a big day out, but the route offers a lot of variation and options to adapt. Technically underfoot it is quite rough in places but overall, the route provides steep climbs, long runnable descents and impressive dramatic views, whatever the weather – all the things I want on a day in the fells.”

The route is a mix of long grinds, steep pulls, fast descents, technical running, and consequences, all with glorious views. What’s not to love?!

3. Back o’ Grassmoor / Coledale Horseshoe, Lake District

Another entry for a classic Lakeland round, Oliver Perratt of Mercia Fell Runners and The Green Runners picked the Coledale round as his favourite UK fell run. He wasn’t the only one who had it in their top three either. “The whole Grasmoor massif is wonderful, between Crummock, Whinlatter and Newlands. It’s a mix of technical craggy rock, fast grassy slopes and amazing ridges,” he says. “An extended Coledale Horseshoe, highlights the best of this area. The route is a mix of long grinds, steep pulls, fast descents, technical running, and consequences, all with glorious views. What’s not to love?!”

“The real star of the route is along the ridgeline over Causey Pike and down Rowling End. It’s a wonderful melange of single track and craggy drops: pummel down The Scar to Sail, throw yourself down to the pass, skip along the stony track, batter down the rocks – taking in the glorious ridgeline to finish with a bone breaking descent to the road – heather obscuring the way with each drop, turn, rock and root a surprise to react to. Oh, the joy! I’m planning to race the Coledale Horseshoe this year, which cuts out Causey Pike but will hopefully be just as enjoyable in competition.”

Once I’ve got to the top, tapped and said hello to the trig point I’m then rewarded with very fun blast back down!

4. Grenoside Woods, Sheffield

Ultra trail runner and tattoo artist Richard Lazenby says, “My favourite hill to run isn’t in a race or a well known big monster of a mountain, it’s the hill I run from my own front door most days on my training runs. It’s a long steady climb up through woodland and bike trails to the high trig point in Grenoside woods. Over the 7 or so kilometres it takes to get up there I’m probably only climbing 280 metres but it feels different every time I do it.”

“Whilst climbing up you also get a fantastic view of the ever changing Sheffield landscape. Once I’ve got to the top, tapped and said hello to the trig point I’m then rewarded with very fun blast back down! Absolutely brilliant fun!”

No wonder Wainwright himself classed this as a favourite!

5. Whitbarrow, Lake District

Run coach Rowan Wood suggests a fell close to home too: “I may be biased as it’s my local fell, but Whitbarrow Scar is one of the finest outlying fells of the Lake District. A full 360 panorama from the top gives you views to the Lake District mountains, the Howgills, the Dales, the Forest of Bowland and Morecambe Bay. There is a multitude of paths taking you all over this hill meaning you can run a different route each time, and the fast draining limestone means good running year round. No wonder Wainwright himself classed this as a favourite!”

So there you have it: five excellent UK hill runs to try out one day. But wait – there’s more! We had a quick whip around the OMM staff to see what they thought was missing. So add to your list of fells & hills: the scenic Box Hill in Surrey, the iconic Roseberry Topping in North Yorkshire and the imposing Arthur’s Seat just outside of Edinburgh.

As for horseshoes and skylines… Well you’ve got your work cut out. The Fairfield Horseshoe comes strongly recommended by the team – and is another classic Lakeland round. The Ilkley Skyline also made it top top of the Yorkshire contingent’s list: a 22 mile moorland loop around Ilkley in West Yorkshire. In Wales, the Bochlwyd Horseshoe comes in highly recommended for an all day scrambling adventure across Tryfan and the Glyderau to circumnavigate Llyn Bochlwyd. Pick a dry day for that one! Or to go a bit longer, how about the Peris Horseshoe, that encompasses the soaring mountain trails on either side of the road between Llanberis and Pen-y-Pass.

If none of those inspire you, we don’t know what will. Now, that’s enough reading… go run up a hill!

Emily Woodhouse is a freelance writer and editor, specialising in all things adventure and outdoors. She is a Mountain Leader based on Dartmoor and is currently working towards her Winter Mountain Leader. She has been an active member of Mountain Rescue since 2015. Pacing into the fog across a featureless bog at midnight is her happy place. Despite evidence to the contrary, she still isn't quite ready to call herself a runner but will definitely be back for more OMM. Check out more work by Emily here: www.travellinglines.com
Emily Woodhouse is a freelance writer and editor, specialising in all things adventure and outdoors. She is a Mountain Leader based on Dartmoor and is currently working towards her Winter Mountain Leader. She has been an active member of Mountain Rescue since 2015. Pacing into the fog across a featureless bog at midnight is her happy place. Despite evidence to the contrary, she still isn't quite ready to call herself a runner but will definitely be back for more OMM. Check out more work by Emily here: www.travellinglines.com

If you have a story to tell, whether it’s from the OMM, another race or challenge or just how you use our kit, get in touch! Just pop an email to james@team-ark.com and who knows, you might just earn yourself some free kit!

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