Cornwall is well-known for its beautiful scenery, and it’s undeniably one of the reasons why many people come to visit.
While you can soak in the Cornish landscape on a more leisurely note, one of the best ways to enjoy the sights—especially for runners—is to try out some of the parkruns in the region!
Rather than going to an expensive fun run that only runs once or twice a year, parkruns are free and run almost every week.
Fortunately, Cornwall is filled to the brim with many great options that cater to every kind of runner.
Let’s get into it!
What Is a Parkrun?
Built on the premise of making exercise more accessible to people, the Parkrun project has flourished into an international community of enthusiasts.
Rather than forcing people to register for fun runs every time around and pay an entry fee, parkruns are volunteer-run events that only require you to sign up once.
Multiple countries now hold parkruns. However, they originated in England—so when participating in one of the parkruns in Cornwall, you’re getting an authentic experience!
Despite its name, you don’t have to run on a parkrun (although you certainly can if you want to). Some people also prefer to walk or jog if that’s more to their liking.
How Many Parkruns Are There in Cornwall?
As of this writing, Cornwall hosts at least eight official parkrun events, spread across the county. There are also several parkruns in nearby Plymouth and Devon if you’re willing to go a little farther to the northeast.
If you’re not sure whether a parkrun event will suit you, we’ll be looking at each of Cornwall’s parkrun events in greater detail!
How Do I Register for a Parkrun?
Parkrun registration is done through the official website and only needs to be accomplished once regardless of how many events you participate in!
Once you’ve signed up, you can show up to any parkrun you like whenever you want—even without notice.
If you’re looking to get in some regular exercise on your Cornwall holiday, signing up for parkruns is a great opportunity given the wide distribution of parkrun courses around the region.
Land’s End Parkrun
The Land’s End run, unsurprisingly, starts and ends near Land’s End in Penzance. The run happens every week at 9 am on Saturday, assuming that there are sufficient volunteers to run the event.
The course traces five kilometres through the pasture land between Land’s End and Sennen Cove, following paved roads and cycle paths along the course.
The run shares a lot of its path with the Cornish Way, a cycle route that runs 207 kilometres from Land’s End to Bude. You’ll only be running a short portion of this, so don’t worry about the distance!
Fortunately, because it’s a cycle route, you can expect that the run won’t be too rough or too steep. The gravel and tarmac road means you won’t be needing any trail shoes; regular runners will do quite well.
There are toilets and a playground at the start and end of the course, making the Land’s End parkrun great for a family group.
And because the Land’s End sign and other similar attractions are quite nearby, this parkrun is an ideal place to start a day or afternoon at the famous site.
Eden Project Parkrun
With the highest average finisher count per week and second highest total finisher count among the Cornwall parkruns, it’s safe to say that the Eden Project parkrun is a strong contender for the most popular route in Cornwall.
The Eden Project run commences at 9:00 AM each Saturday. Because it exclusively follows permanent pedestrian paths, you won’t need to worry about getting in the way of other, larger traffic or getting all muddy.
The track winds around to reach the five-kilometre length, so you’re always pretty close to the start and finish points.
Hence, even less confident runners or kids can be comfortable on the course as they can always step out if they need a break.
The Eden Project itself provides some truly impressive scenery, with huge domes containing artificial ecosystems that almost look straight out of a science fiction movie.
Once you’ve finished the run, the artificial domes and other environmental sights are a great way to relax and continue your morning and early afternoon. You get free entry as a parkrun participant, so it’s a great deal for those on a budget!
If you’re the thrill-seeking type, you can also try the zip wire that runs overhead.
The Trelissick parkrun is one of the trickier parkruns that you can experience in Cornwall.
Starting just beside King Harry Ferry, the course runs along the coast of the River Fal before turning back around to complete the track.
As with the other parkruns we’ve talked about, the Trelissic run starts at 9:00 AM every Saturday. However, since there’s a pre-event briefing and a bit of a walk to the start point, make sure to head early to get there on time.
Runners who don’t have dogs can walk through the nearby gardens to get to the starting line for free, an offer that the National Trust has made for the parkrun participants.
Although you can’t dawdle about, this still allows you to see the gardens without paying an entry fee. It’s a great way to see if you’ll be interested to pay and spend more time in these scenic gardens.
If you’ve got a pair of trail shoes, they’ll definitely serve you well as the track runs along the grass and takes you within the forest.
There’s also a stream crossing through the course, making it a little challenging for more novice runners.
After the run, the National Trust gardens provide a great respite. Alternatively, stop off at the second-hand bookstore and gallery on the same estate!
Mount Edgcumbe Parkrun
The Mount Edgecumbe parkrun is an offering that includes trail running and tarmac, perfect for people who are just getting into off-roading.
As the name might suggest, this course runs up a hill. However, the trail is reasonably shallow and well-kept – so you shouldn’t lose too much puff!
After the initial ascent through the forest, you’ll run around the grassy area near Redding point before heading to the finish line.
The organisers recommend trail shoes if you have them so you don’t run the risk of injuring yourself and risk missing out on the spectacular views over the coast.
This includes Drake’s Island — arguably the highlight of scenery that can be seen from much of the course.
There are also a variety of attractions in the area!
If either the café or country house located at the end of the track doesn’t strike your fancy, there’s also the option of exploring the adventure segway park — a great destination once you’ve had a bit of a rest and are ready to be on your feet again!
The picturesque Fort Picklecombe is also nearby, a seaside Grade II listed building that has since been transformed into a residential housing complex.
The Lanhydrock course runs a figure-eight loop from the Lanhydrock country house, starting up the drive before circling around a couple of fields and finishing with a downhill path through the forest.
The course runs entirely on trail paths the whole way, so there’s no need for trail shoes.
You can certainly enjoy the woodland run with your regular runners! However, you should keep an eye out for mud and puddles (especially after the rain).
The course also comes close to the River Fowey at some points. If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to see some aquatic life. If not, the rushing water will nevertheless lend a pleasant atmosphere during your run.
Once you’ve finished up with the parkrun, the Lanhydrock country house and estate provides a perfect opportunity to relax and take in the impressive surroundings.
The gardens are also a picturesque backdrop to a morning snack or early lunch at the National Trust café, and there’s a park and playground just a short way down the road.
If you pick your day right, you might even get to see a cricket match at the Lanhydrock Cricket Club – rounding out the classic English day out.
The Heartlands parkrun is quite a cinematic route that runs through a park fringing a heritage mining site. It also has the advantage of being quite close to the town centre of Camborne.
For runners who don’t want to stray too far for a parkrun, the Heartlands course’s proximity to the hub and surrounding buildings makes it a perfect choice.
There’s no point within the course that’s more than 400 metres from the start, and the run itself travels along flat, paved paths. As such, this is a great site for novice runners!
Parents who are looking for a course to take along with their little kiddies will also love the course’s closeness to the starting point. Little legs getting tired often means you have to leave the run early, and fortunately, the walk back isn’t too far.
Once you’ve finished the run, you can then explore the Heartlands historic mining site itself which has been crowned a World Heritage Site. You don’t have to pay anything because entry into the site is free.
The nearby adventure park adds more reasons why this parkrun is perfect for those wanting to bring their children. In a nearby playground, youngsters can let loose and expend any remaining energy!
The Penrose parkrun is a fairly flat, tarmac-paved, out-and-back course – though it has a slight incline as you approach the turnaround point.
Kicking off with trees on both sides, the course eventually arrives at a pasture area from which you can see The Loe, a large lake that stretches almost to the southeastern coast of nearby Porthleven.
After turning around just before the National Trust buildings, you’ll run back along the same trail before finishing up by the car park near your starting point.
When you’ve completed the run, you have a few options for what to do next.
If anybody fancies another walk on the same trail, you could return to the National Trust buildings (or perhaps you can drive there, a suggestion that more people might agree with).
Alternatively, Flambards Theme Park is just a short drive away from the endpoint, making for a great way to continue an exciting day without the effort of extra exercise.
And if none of that sounds interesting, the nearby town of Helston should have something for you to do – whether that’s a trip to a food vendor or just a nice walk in the sunshine.
Tamar Lakes Parkrun
The Tamar Lakes course runs almost entirely around the coast of Upper Tamar Lake, giving you a lovely water view as you complete the course!
As with the other runs, the Tamar lakes course begins at 9:00 AM each Saturday – assuming that weather and volunteer numbers permit.
Because the course is quite flat, it’s great for runners who aren’t confident with hills and those who want an easy run.
You’ll start on the bridge that crosses the south end of the lake, running anticlockwise until you almost return to the starting point.
At the end of the run, many participants will head over to the nearby café to refresh and enjoy some great food.
For those who are still raring for some fun after the run, they can also hire water equipment such as kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards and enjoy being out on the water.
If you want a little less exercise than the full parkrun, head over to the Lower Tamar Walk – a short 2.4 km return trip. You can even try your hand at fishing here if you’d like to catch your own dinner!
Cornwall offers various parkruns, all of which have their merits. No matter which one you pick, the spectacular scenery is always a welcome treat.
If you choose the right location, you’ll also have plenty of things to do afterward without going too far!
Whether you’re going with the kids, dogs, or just by yourself, there’s a parkrun out there waiting for you.
Fairgrounds or mining museums? Geodomes or fishing lakes? The choice is yours. So get out there, go for a run, and most importantly: have fun!
Introducing Eliot, the Editor here and Cornwall local with a wanderlust spirit and an insatiable appetite for adventure. With a passion for the great outdoors, he can often be found catching waves on his surfboard, scaling peaks on a hiking trail, or discovering hidden gems in his exploration of Cornwall.