There’s plenty of green space close to the centre of Cardiff allowing for runners to enjoy all sorts of interesting routes, perfect for exploring the Welsh capital.
One such green space that is very popular with runners is Roath Park. Occupying a long strip of land stretching from Cyncoed in the north to Roath in the southeast, the park opened to the public in 1894. Its most prominent feature is the huge lake that takes up almost half of the area, but there are also botanical gardens, a rose garden, and a large recreational ground. At weekends, that area especially can fill up with teams playing football and rugby, but there’s plenty of space for all.
If you’re pressed for time, a quick loop around the lake is just 2.1km, or for something more substantial, enter the park anywhere and do a loop of the entire perimeter – around 5km. The gradient is fairly flat throughout, except for a small hill that takes you through the rockery on the east of the route. A road cuts through the centre of Roath Park, so you will have to exit the green space briefly to cross it.
For an alternative route of similar length, get your thinking cap on and head to Cardiff’s university district. In the middle of it is the jewel of Cardiff’s greenery – Bute Park. The Park is criss-crossed by tracks and running paths that follow the course of the River Taff. Better yet there is an official Holiday Inn Running Route starting at Holiday Inn Cardiff City Centre that loops the entire park and has picturesque Cardiff Castle as the start and finish point.
For something slightly shorter, you can head into the park itself instead of around it. Start heading west to cross the Taff and then north past Sophia Gardens and the National Cricket Centre. The path curves around Pontcanna Fields, still following the bend of the Taff, continuing west at Cardiff Met towards Llandaff Bridge, where you can cross the Taff and loop back, letting the river dictate your course south through Blackweir Fields.
In truth, it’s a lovely park no matter where you enter – just stick to the river and you’ll be able to immerse yourself in quiet greenery for as long as you wish. The gradient is easy-going, with only the steps of the Western Avenue Bridge and a slight incline at Sophia Gardens to contend with.
If you’re looking to explore further afield then head north west of the university district where there is the Forest Farm Country Park and Long Wood Nature Reserve. The Nature Reserve, situated in Whitchurch, was formed in 1967 on what was historically an industrial area and straddles the last remaining stretch of the former Cardiff Merthyr canal. The whole area has been reclaimed by nature and is now covered with beech and oak, while its waterways attract kingfishers and herons
Try a run down the old railway line from Whitchurch or follow the River Taff and let it lead you from the Forest Farm into Long Wood. If you like an off-road run, truly lost in nature, it’s worth making the trip.
Finally for those runners looking for something a bit more challenging, wet and windswept, there’s a great route all the way around Cardiff Bay. It’s about 10km in total. Start in Butetown and run down Lloyd George Avenue towards the coast, following Bute Place out to the Roath Basin. Turn right when you hit the water and follow Britannia Quay, across the footbridge with Cardiff Bay on your right.
Be careful to avoid the Daleks as you’ll pass the Doctor Who Experience and then turn right again, running along the mouth of the bay through Porth Teigr. The run takes in Parc Argae Caerdydd with the water stretching off on either side of the path.
Run over the Cardiff Bar Barrage and you’ll hit the other side of the bay. From there, Penarth Portway takes you through more landscaped, waterside greenery to Pont Y Werin, a long footbridge that spans Ely River. Pass through the International Sports Village then follow the coast back around the headland and cross the Taff Viaduct, at the mouth of the River Taff, which takes you to Hamadryad Park and right back to where you started at Cardiff Bay station.
You can search for running routes from Holiday Inn hotels in Cardiff and other local Holiday Inn destinations here: http://restandrun.holidayinn.com/route-search/