When it comes to finding out where the best running trails in the UK are, there’s no better authority than Elise Downing. Not only has she been on countless trail running adventures in the UK’s hills and lowlands, but she’s run an entire lap of the coast – solo, self supported and in one continuous journey. We’re pleased to say, she’ll be one of the runners taking part in the OutdoorsMagic Trail Race on May 5 in the Forest of Dean.
It’s cresting a peak, legs and lungs burning, and watching a view you have never seen before open up in front of you. It’s the magic of flying back down the other side of that hill you’ve just slogged up. It’s the sheer joy of a hot cup of tea and a dry pair of socks after a long day outside. These are the best feelings I know and the pursuit of them is why I run trails. Plus it’s a great excuse to go and explore somewhere new – you go a little faster and so get to see a little more than you can by walking.
The UK has a seemingly infinite number of trails to explore and I seem to have found myself on a mission to run as many of them as possible. I know Britain’s coastal trails especially well after running a 5000-mile loop of the coast in 2016 but I still have a long list of places further inland to go and discover.
I’m excited to tick off the Forest of Dean from my list this May when I’ll be running the Outdoors Magic Trail Race. Rumour has it that area is pretty special…
 Coed y Brenin
What to expect: Four fully-waymarked trails that delve into deep woodland.
Coed y Brenin is the UK’s first bespoke trail running centre and is the perfect solution for days when you want to run some great trails but aren’t in the mood to battle the elements somewhere more remote. Nestled towards the south of Snowdonia National Park the running trails there ascend and descend the forest’s three river valleys. These trails are marked and vary from just one mile up to half marathon distance. You can stick a few together if you are after a long run but equally each has an escape route, offering low level shortcuts back to the visitor centre.
Looking for a race? Try the Buff Winter Trail Wales
 Isle of Arran and the Arran Coastal Way
What to expect: Wild and windy beaches all to yourself
Arran has been referred to as Scotland in miniature, where a rugged landscape of mountains and moorland in the north contrasts against the lush lowlands of the south. If you are looking for utter tranquility alongside your trails then it’s the place for you. The 65-mile Arran Coastal Way circumnavigates the island and allows you to see everything Arran has to offer, including an optional ascent of Goatfell (Arran’s highest mountain) if you are feeling brave. The island offers a true Scottish adventure but, being a few hundred miles south of the northern highlands, is a little more accessible too.
Try the Ultra Tour of Arran
Date: 14-15 April
 Jurassic Coast and the South West Coast Path
What to expect: Lots of ascent and descent, plus plenty of places to stop for ice cream.
The UK has thousands of miles of incredible coastline but not all of it has the advantage of being hugged by a fully marked and impressively well maintained coast path. Enter the Jurassic Coast. Forming part of the South West Coast Path, it’s a 96 mile stretch that will take you from Dorset through to East Devon. Don’t expect an easy ride – the hills are monstrous, the steps are brutal and if you’re out on a stormy day the wind will threaten to whip you off the cliff tops. It’s worth it though. This is Britain at its wild and wonderful best.
Looking for a race? Try the Jurassic Trail
Date: 22 April