Running in Woolacombe with the National Trust

A National Trust beginner’s running group in Woolacombe, Devon, are making the most of the beautiful scenery and nature on offer and getting fit at the same time!
The group is led by Jonathan Fairhurst – Head Ranger for Croyde, Woolacombe and Mortehoe National Trust sites – and his enthusiasm for running along with his expertise when it comes to the outdoors makes him the perfect guide.
Check out this video of the group in action as they tackle a beach run in Woolacombe and take in some of the amazing nature as Jonathan shares his knowledge!

About Jonathan and his group

Woolacombe National Trust Beginner's Running Group caters mainly for beginner runners and people who have not run for some time and a typical session involves a 20-30 minute run/walk in addition to a warm up, which generally involves a short walk, and a warm down with some stretches at the end. The group progresses by varying the amount of time they run and walk but extending the running time and reducing the walking time as the weeks go by.
Jonathan and his team look after the 12 mile stretch of coast between Croyde and Ilfracombe in North Devon, which involves maintaining all the footpaths and walls, delivering a full programme of education activities for local schools along with lots of public events such as guided walks and their ever popular Tractor and Trailer Rides to see the local Grey Seals.
Into autumn his focus changes on managing the local habitats for wildlife, which involves a lot of cutting and burning of gorse to create habitats suitable for a greater variety of wildlife.
Jonathan said: "My role is fairly active and involves a lot of walking, especially along the coast path which is challenging. The great thing about my job is the variety – no two days are ever the same."
He began running at around the age of 30 as a way to improve his fitness, but now finds himself entering 10Ks for the motivational aspect they add to his training.
"Although I am not very competitive I find it’s great to line up on the start line with fellow competitors and test myself."
And now, after taking a Leadership in Running Fitness course, Jonathan is sharing his love for both running and the special places the National Trust has to offer by encouraging beginners to engage with nature in the same way, and get fitter at the same time!

Running in special places

"Woolacombe is a fantastic place to run. You have so much variety, so many trails, surfaces and terrain to suit all abilities, amazing views and one of the best beaches in the country," says Jonathan.
"I might be biased but you will find most of the trails and footpaths on National Trust properties are maintained to a very high standard. They are also found in some of the most beautiful and inspiring parts of the country. Places which just make you want get out and explore."

What next?

Jonathan hopes his runners will eventually build the confidence to progress to running independently by themselves or with friends outside of the group runs.
"It would be great if they can gain the confidence to do this, build running into their lives and gain all the health benefits both physical and mental this can bring," he said.
Looking to the future, running in Woolacombe is set to go from strength to strength, with 3-2-1 routes on the horizon as well as a number of existing races in the Woolacombe area for group members to get involved with.
To find a running group near you, please visit and to find out about more opportunities for running at the National Trust's special places, please visit
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