With much of the population keen to find ways to keep fit in the summer months and beyond, parks with great outdoor sports facilities are growing in popularity right across the country.
Keen to discover which parks in the UK are best for outdoor sports, we conducted an index-based study, measuring how well each park compares when it comes to green spaces, waterlines, sunshine hours and more. Our study looked at the best UK parks for outdoor spots broadly, as well as the best UK parks for different kinds of outdoor sports.
The best parks in the UK for outdoor sports
Hampton Court Park was revealed to be the UK’s best park for sports, having been awarded a total average score of 9.02 out of 10 for the area’s features and weather combined. The royal park is situated in Greater London and is renowned for its formal gardens. However, it is also a fantastic choice for open field sports, water sports and track and trail sports, since the park received scores of 9, 8.98 and 9.09 for these, respectively.
With a total average score of 8.87, the second best UK park for sports was found to be Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, which is just 10 miles away from Bournemouth. The park is cram-packed with activities for visitors; however, it is especially attractive for track and trail sports, as it received an impressive score of 9.35 out of 10 for this kind of sport – the highest score of any other UK park.
Bushy Park, the second largest of London’s Royal Parks, shared second spot with Moors Valley Country Park since it also was awarded a total average score of 8.87 for sports overall. However, Bushy Park received its highest score for open field sports specifically, making it a popular option for games such as football.
Richmond Park, originally created as a deer park in the 17th century, was revealed to be the fourth best park for sport in the UK. Receiving a total average score of 8.82 for the different sports combined, Richmond Park was also the best UK park for open-field sports, according to our study.
Meanwhile, Lea Valley Country Park ranked as the fifth best park in the UK for sports, with a total average score of 8.79 for all sport types combined. Impressively, Lea Valley Country Park ranked among the top 10 UK parks for all three sports types individually, too.
The best parks in the UK for open-field sports
Richmond Park came out on top as the UK’s best park for open-field sports specifically. Boasting 9,593,062 m² of green space and 620 hours of sunshine per year, the park is a popular choice for sports that require vast amounts of clear space.
Following behind in second is Moors Valley Country Park. Alongside the park’s wide range of attractions, from golf courses to treetop adventures, the park also offers visitors 6,526,245 m² of green space and 620 hours of annual sunshine.
Our index study found Bushy Park to be the third best option for open-field sports parks in the UK. The second largest of London’s Royal Parks, Bushy Park boasts 3,155,757 m² of green space and 621 hours of sunshine annually for sporty visitors to enjoy.
Hampton Court Park was labelled the fourth best park in the UK for open-field sport, offering 2,639,229 m² of green space and 620 hours of annual sunshine.
Rounding off the top five best UK parks for open-field sports is Surrey Hills Park, owing to its 3,416,579 m² and 615 hours of annual sunshine.
The best parks in the UK for water sports
For sports lovers seeking a park with plenty to offer in terms of water sports, Farnham Park was the best UK park to visit. With 84 counts of water lines in green space, 620 hours of annual sunshine, a waterline length of 7,569 m and 2,277,578 m² of surface water area, the Surrey-based park received an average score of 9.17 for its water-related features.
Hampton Court Park was revealed to be the second best UK park for water sports, with a total average water sports score of 8.98. The popular space benefits from 620 hours of sunshine each year, a waterline length of 14,642, 34 water lines in the green space and 866,552 m² of surface water area.
Lea Valley Country Park followed shortly behind as the third best UK park for water sports, with a total average score of 8.92 for those types of sport. Although it received 15 fewer hours of sunshine each year on average than Farnham Park and Hampton Court, it had plenty more counts of water lines in green space, with 154. It also boasts an impressive waterline length of 38,816 m².
Country Park was the fourth best park in the UK for water sports, with a total average score of 8.85 for features relating to water sport. Meanwhile, Peterborough Sculpture Park followed closely behind, having been awarded an average score of 8.83 for water sports facilities.
The best parks in the UK for track and trail sports
For track and trail sports, Moors Valley Country Park and Forest came out on top. With a 13,720m perimeter of green space and 620 sunshine hours, the popular park achieved an average score of 9.35 for the track and trail sports features on offer.
Receiving an impressive average score of 9.32 for its track and trail sporting appeal, Richmond Park placed as the UK’s second best park to do these sports. It has a lengthy 12,467m perimeter of green space and benefits from 620 hours of sunshine on average annually.
According to our study, Bushy Park was the third best UK park for track and trail sports activities. The popular space received an average score of 9.17 for these kinds of sports, and this score is due to its 621 hours of average annual sunshine and green space perimeter of 9,229m.
Meanwhile, Lea Valley Country Park and Hampton Court Park both followed as the fourth and fifth best UK parks for track and trail sports, respectively, with average scores of 8.73 and 9.09.
1. Golfsupport.com sought to determine the best UK parks for outdoor sports. The study considered 170 green spaces. Glebe Farm Recreation Ground and RSPB Lodmoor greenspaces were omitted as they are forestry reserves and, therefore, not accessible for outdoor sports.
2. To support this, an Index was established encompassing the greenspace areas provided by the Open Zoomstack shapefile, detailing the following variables:
- Area of Green Spaces (m^2)
- Perimeter of Green Space (m)
- Counts of Water Lines
- Sunshine hours
- Waterline lengths (m)
- Total Area of Surface Water (m^2)
3. Open Zoomstack shapefile provided data for water lines and area/perimeter.
4. The Met Office was utilised to obtain climate data for Sunshine hours from CEDA archives (Centre for Environmental Data Analysis); the dataset HadUK-Grid Gridded Climate Observations dating from 2009-2019.
- Open Field Sports: Area of Green Spaces (m^2) + Sunshine hours
- Water Sports: Counts of Water Lines + Sunshine hours + Waterline lengths (m) +Total Area of Surface Water (m^2)
- Track or Trail: Perimeter of Green Space (m) + Sunshine hours
5. The greenspaces were ranked and weighted by their overall average score across the three assessed variables.