NORTH EAST

Albert parkrun, Middlesbrough

Albert_Course

 

albert

 

Course – X.

Type – 2.5 laps.

Elevation – Nothing of any significance.

Elevation Grade – 1/5

Terrain – Flat tarmac paths throughout.

Scenery – Views across the park, run along past theLower Lake, passing the wildlife. Also pass the statue of Brian Clough on the West side of the park.

P.B. Potential – 9

Additional Info – Forms part of an annual uber handy New Years Day Double with Stewart parkrun. Albert seems to traditionally be the later to start.

 

Blackhill

Blackhill_Course

 

blackhill

 

Course – X.

Type – 3.5 laps.

Elevation – Oh hell yes.

Elevation Grade – 4.5/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths and light trail around pitches.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 2

Additional Info – X.

 

Blyth Links

BlythLinks_Course

Course – X.

Type – 2.5 laps.

Elevation – Undulating promenade run.

Elevation Grade – 2.5/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths throughout.

Scenery – Blyth battery and the technicolour beach huts.

P.B. Potential – 7

Additional Info – X.

 

Cotsford Fields

CotsfordFields_Course

Course – X.

Type – 2 laps.

Elevation – Some, pretty middling in grand scheme of parkruns.

Elevation Grade – 2.5/5

Terrain – Trail paths and grass.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 6

Additional Info – X.

 

Darlington South Park

DSP_Course

 

darlingtonsouthpark

 

Course – X.

Type – 3 laps.

Elevation – Few undulations and one little cheeky kicker of a climb at the end of a lap when you leave the river side.

Elevation Grade – 2/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths throughout.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 8

Additional Info – X.

 

Druridge Bay

DruridgeBay_Course

 

druridgebay 157

 

Course   The Druridge Bay course is a two lap route that is just shy of two full laps of the path around Ladyburn Lake. Run briefings are held in front of the visitor centre and then the field walk down to the start. My visit here coincided with their record attendance and would recommend trying to get nearer the front if you prefer a bit more space. The path to the start is narrower than the start section so it’s not as tight as you might at first imagine.

From the start you head out in a Northerly direction shortly after turning Westwards and after a couple of hundred metres it narrows slightly as you cross a bridge. From here the course winds pleasantly through a short wooded section. Leaving the wooded section you descend a short hill to return to the waters edge and turn right. You continue to skirt the edge of the lake as you head out to the most Westerly point. Leaving the lakes edge you start to climb a short hill where a marshal awaits and you turn to switch back and continue the second half of the climb. Now heading in an Easterly direction the short ascent you’ve just made turns to the equivalent descent over the next couple of hundred metres. The descent is pretty much over as you pass the edge of a car park and briefly cross over some tarmac. The path then turns gradually to the left and you’re delivered back to adjacent to the visitor centre. The finish funnel is set up and awaiting you after another full lap and the volunteer team giving rousing cheers of encouragement as you pass them.

Type – 2 laps.

Elevation – Gently undulating with one short climb as you switchback and cross over the tributary to Ladyburn Lake. The descent follows straight after the climb.

Elevation Grade – 2/5

Terrain – Hard packed muddy trail with a short tarmac section as you pass the edge of a carpark.

Scenery – Quite an enclosed course circling Ladyburn Lake. Nice views out of the water at most times with short wooded sections and a fair few animals cutting about.

P.B. Potential – 7/10

Strava – Druridge Bay parkrun

Additional Info – Took in Druridge as part of a New Years Day double where it partnered up with Newbiggin-by-the-sea. Druridge took the later slot of an 11am start. Record breaking turnout that the team handled in a slick and seasoned way. Some puddles along the course and although muddy trail paths definitely felt most at home in road shoes. Maybe they just weren’t at their cleanest after 5k…

 

Durham

Durham_Course

 

durham

 

Course – X.

Type – Eclectic – One lap with a mini loop and an out and back.

Elevation – Pretty much flat.

Elevation Grade – 1/5

Terrain – Grass, trail paths and tarmac.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 8

Additional Info – X.

 

Flatts Lane

FlattsLane_Course

 

flattslane

 

Course – X.

Type – 2 laps.

Elevation – Plenty.

Elevation Grade – 4.5/5

Terrain – Trail paths throughout.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 1.5

Additional Info – X.

 

Gateshead

Gateshead_Course

 

gateshead

 

Course – X.

Type – Once around the right hand loop anticlockwise, before three anticlockwise laps of the (lower) left hand loop. On third lap you climb and turn right to retrace path back to start/finish.

Elevation – More so than not.

Elevation Grade – 3.5/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths throughout.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 4

Additional Info – X.

 

Gibside

Gibside_Course

 

gibside

 

Course – X.

Type – One lap out and back with containing a loop.

Elevation – Plenty.

Elevation Grade – 4/5

Terrain – Trail paths.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 3

Additional Info – X.

 

Hackworth

Hackworth_Course

 

hackworth

 

Course – X.

Type – 3 laps and a final long finish straight.

Elevation – Fair bit.

Elevation Grade – 3.5/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths and a grass section.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 3

Additional Info – X.

 

Hartlepool

Hartlepool_Course

 

hartlepool

 

Course – X.

Type – Out and back.

Elevation – Most minor of slopes as you join to/from the promenade.

Elevation Grade – 1/5

Terrain – Tarmac path/flagging throughout.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 10

Additional Info – X.

 

Herrington Country

HerringtonCountry_Course

Course – X.

Type – 2 laps with a short out and back section leading you to main loop.

Elevation – Lumps and bumps.

Elevation Grade – 2.5/5

Terrain – Trail paths throughout.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 5

Additional Info – X.

 

Jesmond Dene

JesmondDene_Course

Course – X.

Type – X.

Elevation – X.

Elevation Grade – X/5

Terrain – X.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – X

Additional Info – X.

 

Jubilee

Jubilee_Course

Course – X.

Type – 3.5 laps.

Elevation – Plenty up, plenty down, not much flat.

Elevation Grade – 4/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths and grass sections.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 3

Additional Info – X.

 

Leazes

Leazes_Course

Course – X.

Type – 3 laps.

Elevation – Continually undulating.

Elevation Grade – 3/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths throughout.

Scenery – Fortress St James, up close.

P.B. Potential – 4

Additional Info – X.

 

Marshall Drive parkrun, Brotton

MarshallDrive_Course

Course – X.

Type – X.

Elevation – Least flat yet encountered at an event Bar the start/finish straight you are either going up or down.

Elevation Grade – 4/5

Terrain – Grass and trail paths and tarmac to finish.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 2

Additional Info – X.

 

Newbiggin-by-the-Sea

NewbigginByTheSea_Course

newbiggin-by-the-sea

Course   XXX

Type – 2 lap, pan and handle.

Elevation – X

Elevation Grade – 2/5

Terrain – Beach, promenade more brief beach and some steps/grass before tarmac path and more promenade.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 6/10

StravaNewbiggin-by-the-Sea parkrun

Additional Info – LLAMA!.

 

Newcastle

Newcastle_Course

newcastle

Course – X.

Type – One lap around the Town Moor.

Elevation – Not too much, but not pancake flat.

Elevation Grade – 1.5/5

Terrain – Tarmac and light gravel paths throughout.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 9

Additional Info – The event has a lead bike to ensure cows are cleared out the way.

 

Prudhoe Riverside

PrudhoeRiverside_Course

 

prudhoeriverside

 

Course – X.

Type – 2 laps.

Elevation – One steady climb and one sharp descent per lap. Nothing too extreme.

Elevation Grade – 2.5/5

Terrain – Tarmac and trail paths.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 6

Additional Info – X.

 

Redcar

Redcar_Course

 

redcar

 

Course – X.

Type – 3 laps.

Elevation – Flat.

Elevation Grade – 1/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths throughout.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 8

Additional Info – X.

 

Rising Sun

RisingSun_Course

 

risingsun

 

Course – X.

Type – One lap with a loop.

Elevation – Some gradual climb/descent nothing scary.

Elevation Grade – 2/5

Terrain – Tarmac and trail paths.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 7

Additional Info – X.

 

Riverside

Riverside_Course

 

riverside

 

Course – X.

Type – 3 laps.

Elevation – Some climb per lap but nothing too severe.

Elevation Grade – 2/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths throughout.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 8

Additional Info – X.

 

Sedgefield

Sedgefield_Course

 

sedgefield

 

Course – X.

Type – 2 laps.

Elevation – Some climb and descent to the West and East sides of the course.

Elevation Grade – 2.5/5

Terrain – Trail and tarmac paths.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 6

Additional Info – Described to me as the prefect setup for a parkrun event. If parkrun were to clone events that could tick all the boxes Sedgefield is the one.

 

Silksworth (formerly Sunderland)

Silksworth_Course

 

sunderland

 

Course – X.

Type – Out and back with a loop at the half way point.

Elevation – Some climb and decent from the start and finish and then again when you approach Silskworth Lake. The final climb is a proper tester.

Elevation Grade – 3/5

Terrain – Short grass section at start but rest of course on tarmac paths.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 5

Additional Info – X.

 

South Shields

SouthShields_Course

 

southshields 328

 

Course   XXX

Type – Out and back.

Elevation – X

Elevation Grade – 2/5

Terrain – Promenade, cliff top path and pavement.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 7/10

Additional Info – X.

 

Stewart parkrun, Middlesbrough

Stewart_Course

 

stewart

 

Course – X.

Type – 2 laps.

Elevation – Just over half the main lap is fairly flat with the Southern wooden section having some climb/descent.

Elevation Grade – 2.5/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths throughout.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 6

Additional Info – Forms part of an annual uber handy New Years Day Double with Albert parkrun. Stewart seems to traditionally be the earlier start.

 

Tees Barrage

TeesBarrage_Course

 

teesbarrage

 

Course – X.

Type – Out and back (map is out of date).

Elevation – Flat with the exception of a climb and descent from the bridge crossing.

Elevation Grade – 2/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths and flagging.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 8

Additional Info – X.

 

The Pastures

ThePastures_Course

Course – X.

Type – 3 laps.

Elevation – A cow field with a decent slope that you run across with the climb and descent (mainly) at either side.

Elevation Grade – 3/5

Terrain – Pretty lumpy bumpy grassy cow field with a ditch to cross/hurdle.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 3

Additional Info – Incredible views of Alnwick Castle and Harry Potter fans seem to get REALLY excited.

 

Tyne Green

TyneGreen_Course

Course – X.

Type – An out and back with an early switchback to the main linear route.

Elevation – Pancake flat.

Elevation Grade – 1/5

Terrain – Light trail/gravel path, tarmac and grass.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 9

Additional Info – X.

 

Whitley Bay

WhitleyBay_Course

 

whitleybay

 

Course – X.

Type – 2 laps.

Elevation – Undulating promenade run.

Elevation Grade – 2.5/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths throughout.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 6

Additional Info – X.

 

Windy Nook

WindyNook_Course

 

windynook

 

Course – X.

Type – 3 laps.

Elevation – Oh hells yes.

Elevation Grade – 4.5/5

Terrain – Trail paths throughout and steps!.

Scenery – X.

P.B. Potential – 2

Additional Info – X.

 

LONDON

Barking

Barking_Course

 

barking 64

 

Course   From the start you follow the path out towards some allotments. There is then a sharp left turn with from memory either a piece of street furniture/gate to be wary of. It’s worth noting there were numerous pot holes on this section and sadly a week before a runner had broken their ankle. Having made the turn it was a long straight section alongside a lake. At the far end there were a couple of sharp left turns and a slight incline that led you back towards the start. As you near the start you take a couple of right turns before a left turn. This leaves you heading out onto a path that takes you around the Western half of the open park. The path gradually turns left and then another final left turn leads you onto a straight section. The finish is set up and awaiting but you first you just have to go and complete the same lap again.

Type – 2 laps.

Elevation – Pretty flat, just a small slope at the Western edge of the course as you turn to head back up towards the start having run alongside the river.

Elevation Grade – 1.5/5

Terrain – Tarmac path throughout, beware of some potholes.

Scenery – Mostly views across the park (though there was a fun fair there when I visited). Good stretch alongside the river from one of course to the other.

P.B. Potential – 8/10

Additional Info – Just to be wary of the potholes, heard that the week before visiting on of their regulars had taken a bad spill and broken an ankle. The turn at the far Eastern edge of the course has a metal pole/barrier, don’t take this turn tight as its unsighted on your approach. A good finish in terms of having a few hundred metres to go straight down an avenue of trees into the waiting funnel.

 

Beckton

Beckton_Course

 

beckton 20

 

Course   Beckton at the time of visiting was one of the smaller events and now with Victoria Dock having started nearby think this may continue. There was a really warm welcome from the team to their two lap course. Starting in the North West corner of the park you trace an anti-clockwise route around the park starting on paths but transitioning onto grass once you get to the Southern side of the park. There is a section that passes between some trees and around this section the route to follow was clearly marked with cones (also cones generally to ensure you stay sufficiently close to the park border). The route continues to follow the parks edge before rejoining paths near to some housing and gradually takes a right hand bend towards the Beckton corridor. When you reach the corridor you turn right and a long straight out and back section to a marshal at the turning point (think it’s a lamp post). Heading back now when you get to the junction where you joined the corridor you turn right to follow the path around the Northern edge of the park. Doing so eventually brings you round to where you started and joined the main lap. From here you retrace your steps around the majority of the lap, Beckton corridor out and back included. The lap differs upon your return where instead of going off to the right you continue forwards straight along the path and into the centre of the park. Just before reaching the outer park path you turn a right and head towards the finishing funnel.

Type – 2 laps with finish section on second lap.

Elevation – Pretty flat, sits around 20th flattest in the U.K.

Elevation Grade – 1/5

Terrain – Mix of grass and tarmac paths.

Scenery – Mostly views across the park, and the route up and down the Beckton corridor. Nearby City airport ensures many a plane is about.

P.B. Potential – 7/10

Additional Info – Very handy if you happen to be heading via City airport or attending events/conferences at the nearby ExCel centre. P.B. potential dropped down only by majority of course being on grass. Found the grass to be a little heavy going in places, worth being a little mindful of your footing.

 

Burgess

Burgess_Course

 

burgess 45

 

Course   A really enjoyable course and one that felt pretty unique. Starting at the West end of Burgess park the field is split across two paths that have trees/benches between them. You run out East taking in the one small bit of descent/incline on the course as you go through an underpass. Continuing Eastwards you also pass under the ‘bridge to nowhere’ a remnant of when what is now path was once a canal. After about 3/4’s of a mile you take a couple of sharp left hand turns that come quickly after one another. You then head back Westwards towards a marshal who then directs you to turn right. Heading North East now you continue with the pond on your right hand side. Continuing on past the pond to another marshal and a right turn to return you to the other side of the pond. The path on this side tracing the edge of the pond a little more. As you complete a first loop of the pond you’re directed to your right to complete the same loop again. On returning to this point a second time you continue forwards to the marshal from earlier and take a left to take you back Eastwards. Shortly after the the two quick corners in succession return but this time you take a right and then a left. For the return leg there is a short section where you run out to and around some cones before doing a 180 degree turn and heading for home. It’s a long straight finish with just the underpass helping to mix things up. Fortunately the finish funnel awaits a little closer than the start and you peel off the main path onto the grass for this. Lots of cones and marshals cheering and directing you where to go.

Burgess felt quite a curious, but certainly quick course. I’d very much like to return but find myself tempted by the variety of other new courses London continues to offer up.

Type – Pick’n’Mix. 1 lap, out and back with a bit of a pan and handle.

Elevation – Pancake flat with one smooth noticeable dip to go through an underpass you do on way out and return.

Elevation Grade – 1/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths.

Scenery – Views across the park around the pond area. One curiosity is the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ which you run underneath (the bridge was built when the path was originally a canal).

P.B. Potential – 10/10

Additional Info – Felt like a very, very fast course with long straights and pretty clean and easy turns when they occurred. Another real favourite, will return, just frustrating when there is so many other courses in London would love to visit. Need more Saturday’s in the week.

 

Bushy

Bushy_Course

 

bushy 15

 

Course  Where it all began in 2004, thirteen runners taking part in what was then the Bushy Park Time Trial. On numerous trips to London fitting in a parkrun has usually had to involve a bit of juggling but when I decided to make the pilgrimage to Bushy I had a Saturday at my mercy so a proper cross city adventure was planned. Because of the significance of Bushy I think its probably best to share a couple of the preconceptions I had before visiting. I was very aware that it’s the largest UK event week in, week out due to its significance. Mainly due to this I wanted to see and experience the course before (dare I say it) it potentially got too big. I was also definitely also arriving with the impression this may end up being a little underwhelming route wise, almost a bit of a box ticker on my parkrun journey. I couldn’t have been more wrong – in either respect.

First impressions of Bushy were just that it was simply vast. The terrain seemed to be a bit rougher than had possibly imagined and a bit of a hunting grounds feel to it. Finding the start/finish was interesting as there are a lot of people congregating in readiness and the infrastructure for the double funnel was pretty impressive. All around the park there were trees with signs saying not to feed the deer and all trees near to the start/finish now seemed to have a bike attached.

The start is located on grass near the Diana Fountain, and is clearly marked with cones between an avenue of trees. The start line is like the largest, craziest school sports day ever. It’s pretty mega. At an estimation probably 40-50 runners wide shoulder to shoulder. Not even going to guess how many deep. When the run director comes out pre run he has multiple speakers hoisted by volunteers to give everyone a chance at hearing what’s happening. Despite the size/scale it was a very slick operation. Bang on 9am unleashed on the course.

From the start line it’s essentially a 400 metre charge across a stretch of grass to reach the path that will take you in an Easterly direction. The only event I’ve encountered with a similar start is Alness but Bushy is full on wacky races (despite it not being a race…). If you prefer to have some ‘space’ from the start then it’s very much recommended you get into the first few rows at the start and look to have a flyer. The path you’re heading towards is spacious enough and with Bushy being so open generally it seemed that the field did spread out pretty quickly. The light gravel path continues in an Easterly direction before turning to the left and then to the right shortly after. Skirting the Eastern edge of the park you pass the entrance from Park Road near Hampton Wick train station. The course then turns left to take you into the centre of this section of the park where you arrive at crossroads. Taking a right turn you then head once more towards the Eastern edge of the park, soon joining a later section of the path from earlier. Following this path as it follows the edge of the park East becoming North. The path continues round until you transition onto a grass section of grass turning left to run alongside the avenue of trees leading down to the Diana Fountain in the distance. Just under half way down the avenue you take a left turn onto a path that was a mix of light gravel. This became a bit more dirt/mud based as you returned to the crossroads encountered earlier. This time coming from the opposite side, but again turning right to ensure you’ve taken each path leading from this point. A lot of the paths at Bushy are relatively straight but this final section had a few twists and turns and changes of surface as the finish draws closer. You cross a bridge and pass Herron Pond just before you reach the finish line and surely the biggest finish funnel in parkrun.

The aftermath of Bushy was slick, really so so impressed by how quickly and efficiently it all worked. Just moseying around afterwards as well and a herd of deer (genuinely about 100-120) just kind of sauntered past quite the thing. Think they’re used to the weekly invasion of the running masses.

Type – Figure of (nearly) 8.

Elevation – Pretty flat, no memorable elevation at all.

Elevation Grade – 1/5

Terrain – Grass start section onto light gravel/trail paths.

Scenery – Really flat, open, expansive park. Literally goes on for miles in every direction. Has a hunting grounds kind of feel vibe to it. Diana Fountain close to the start and a herd of about 100-120 deer just moseyed on past just after I’d finished.

P.B. Potential – 9/10

Additional Info – parkrun mecca, not sure what you can add. Pleasantly surprised how good the course was, expecting the pilgrimage to be more of a box ticking exercise. The start line is pretty special, school sports day set to EPIC. The field stretches pretty quickly as there is so much space but if you really want a quick time set off briskly and then try to find your rhythm.

NORTH WEST

Carlisle

Carlisle_Course

 

carlisle 347

 

Course   XXX

Type – 3 laps.

Elevation – Constantly undulating. A series of shorter, sharper downhills with one longer steady climb across the park in the middle of a lap.

Elevation Grade – 3.5/5

Terrain – Mix of grass, tarmac paths and short trail section.

Scenery – Views across the park, there’s a house you start alongside and a children’s play park.

P.B. Potential – 4/10

Additional Info – Has a rare distinction of being a course that felt like it offered more descent than elevation. You start and finish at the same height so think its the difference of one long steady climb against multiple short, sharper descents.

 

Colwick

Colwick_Course

 

colwick 40

 

Course   XXX

Type – 1.5 laps.

Elevation – Flat course around ponds and beside the River Trent.

Elevation Grade – 1.5/5

Terrain – Mix of light trail path and tarmac.

Scenery – Views across the ponds, of the marina you pass, an activity centre and any passing activity on the River Trent.

P.B. Potential – 6/10

Additional Info – Arrived on foot and found it a little tricky to locate the start (glad I’d left some warm-up/wiggle room). Think the course has altered slightly from the graphic as although its two times around the small pond and once round the larger its all really done as one big loop/lap. Start and finish are in different places – not too far apart and the volunteers offered to box up bags/jackets and transfer them to the finish which was pretty cool of them.

 

Crane Park

Crane_Course

Course – TBC.

Type – 1.5 Laps.

Elevation – Pretty flat, couple of bumps but nothing of note.

Elevation Grade – 1.5/5

Terrain – Hard packed gravel and paved paths.

Scenery – A nice pleasant run through and around some woods passing a Shot Tower just before half way and then again just before the finish.

P.B. Potential – 8/10

Additional Info – One of few courses where you run beside roads (at either end of the park). Fortunately there is no real danger as paths are safely a comfortable distance away from roads/traffic. The start and finish are quite a distance apart. Not easiest course to leave bags at as the volunteers have to take everything round to the finish which they only set up after the event has started,

 

INTERNATIONAL

Crissy Field

CrissyField_Course

Course – XXX

Type –Pan and handle with a twist (alternate course an out and back and out and back).

Elevation – Flat as a pancake.

Elevation Grade – 1/5

Terrain – Flat dirt/gravel path and tarmac paths (both routes).

Scenery – STUNNING. Scenic views across the bay with the nearby Golden Gate Bridge looming large and Alcatraz island close by as well. Plenty activity in/on the water and down the Crissy Field end of the course as well.

P.B. Potential – 10/10

Strava – Course

Additional Info – An incredible venue and location for an event. Like many of the visitors I was a tourist and experiencing my first international parkrun. As mentioned in the briefing the Crissy Field event brings the parkrun worldwide activity to a close. The day I visited there was a major running/ultra event taking place down on Crissy Field. This simply meant the event returned to its original route which headed out East from the the other side of the yacht club. Here you followed the path as far as you could to the end of the harbour before turning and retracing your steps. A short section to navigate through the live car park brought you back to the start/finish and you then completed the out and back section to the end of Marine Drive. This route is meant to be just over 5k as being an alternative course it shouldn’t be a route where the course record could be broken.

 

Fountains Abbey

FountainsAbbey_Course

 

fountainsabbey 271

 

Course  Wow. Just wow. Since running at Fountains Abbey I’ve seen it receiving a lot of love and justifiably so. The visit here coincided with a road trip to nearby Harrogate and I wasn’t really too keen for a return (sorry Harrogate). A look at the course descriptions of local courses and I was sold on Fountains Abbey. Even knowing it’s stunning the course and location just blew me away. The event is a National Trust location so parkrunners get special dispensation to visit and run/walk around the abbey before then clearing the site ahead of its Saturday opening proper. A bit of a walk through a gate and down hill from the carparks and visitor centre/café. You head down to a sort of mini valley where the abbey resides. I don’t know what size/scale I expected the abbey ruins to be but they’re seriously impressive. Definitely built on a grand scale. The whole property is lush, pristine and manicured and in a bit of a random analogy I’d say Fountains Abbey in parkrun terms felt like what Augusta is to golf.

The course is one smaller loop followed by a full lap of the gardens and valley. Starting to the North East of the abbey you set off in an Easterly direction on a light gravel path with the abbey ruins to your right. A few minor lumps and bumps have you arriving at a small rise and a turn to the left. Shortly after a marshall directs you to the right across a bridge over the River Skell. Getting quick glimpses of the water gardens to your left that you’ll see soon enough. Having crossed the bridge the path then gradually turns right around the widest section of the river and you’re soon headed back in a Western direction. The path again has a few lumps and bumps and you run through what will later be the finish area (the course being designed so you’ll never be lapped). Passing this point the path then starts to descend as you pass the abbey from the other side. Then loop around behind it as the path gradually turns you around to the right. You arrive and pass through the start area and retrace your earlier steps. On reaching the small rise and left turn you this time continue forwards running with the Studley Royal Water Garden to your right. It’s (again) a spectacular sight to see with the various pools and fountains. The path has heads Northwards with a slight bend and some wooded areas you pass open out to reveal the Banqueting House sitting off to the left. Continuing North just before turning right to cross a narrow wooden bridge across the River Skell you pass the Studley tearoom. Having crossed the bridge you turn right and now head Southwards. As you do so you pass a Roman style building looking over the crescent pools of the Water Garden. This section of path takes you around the crescent shape gradually turning right before a left turn leads you heading toward the bridge from the earlier, smaller loop. Continuing on the path as before as it follows around the edge of the River Skell before rising through a few lumps and bumps to reach the finish line. A difference from many events is that due to the finish being on a relatively narrow stretch of path and a need to keep everyone moving you collect your token and then have a couple of minutes walk (or jog) down to where it is scanned. This is done on the path to the South Western corner of the abbey.

Type – 1.5 laps.

Elevation – A few steady lumps and bumps but nothing too taxing. You just enjoys as the paths twist and turn and rise (gently) and fall (still gently) in the magnificent surroundings.

Elevation Grade – 3/5

Terrain – Tarmac and light gravel paths.

Scenery – The most beautiful parkrun course of them all. Set in the sheltered valley of a National Trust property beside the majestic Fountains Abbey. Regularly mentioned as a must see/experience and wouldn’t disagree. The abbey ruins are stunning but everywhere else there is something to see. Manicured lawns, water gardens, normal gardens, bridges, sculptures, houses, towers… AMAZING.

P.B. Potential – 7/10

Additional Info – Have genuine envy of anyone local who gets to call this their ‘home’ run. Will be back. Another course to share as all time favourite status.

 

Gainsborough

Gainsborough_Course

 

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Course – Starting at a crossroads down a hill from the nearby leisure centre/parking it’s a three lap course consisting of two loops and a short marshalled link section. From the start you proceed up a relatively steep climb before a left turn takes you around the edge of the leisure centre until you reach a coned section on grass. Staying to the right of the cones you’re led to the right hand side of a roped off section and directed into a nearby field. Proceeding to trace a perimeter path of the field in an anti-clockwise direction. The ground is uneven and whilst totally runnable it’s not really a course for PB’s. Reaching the North end of the course (and a marshal) you’re directed left and down a short hill before another left turn. Running a similar length now in a Southern direction a left turn has you heading up a similar hill to the recent descent and a return to where you entered the field. This time crossing the road beside the marshall again keeping to the right and what is now the other side of the roped off section. You return to a tarmac path for a steady straight downhill section with the path changing to mud/trail as you pass an entrance to the Castle Wood Academy. Crossing onto the trial path also sees you enter a wooded section that narrows in places. The path winds its way downhill to the lowest point of the course. Just before a junction with an underpass to the right you turn right and head up the hill to the left. Another short and sharp climb returns you to the start and a team of volunteers cheering on your efforts and offering time updates. On passing the start that’s lap one done and it’s a case of completing this another two times. Third time around the finish funnel peels off to the left shortly before the start line.

Type – 3 Laps

Elevation – Plenty

Elevation Grade – 4/5

Terrain – Mainly field/trail with about 20-25% on tarmac paths.

Scenery – Couple of fields, a leisure centre and a stretch through some woods.

P.B. Potential – 2/10

Strava – One lap

Additional Info – The Gainsborough team recommended trail shoes to me before they arrived and I’m glad they did. Normal running shoes will get you round but definitely a little uneven and heavy going in places. Opted for Inov 8’s with more traditional sole rather than full on Salomon Speedcross though.

 

Gladstone

Gladstone_Course

 

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Course   XXX

Type – 2 laps.

Elevation – Plenty. Definitely one of London’s hillier courses of those I’ve encountered.

Elevation Grade – 4/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths throughout with the start and finish section on grass.

Scenery – Views around and across this undulating park that’s divided in two by rail line.

P.B. Potential – 3/10

Additional Info – Beware of engineering works on the tube. Had planned this course in advance only to be scuppered with a couple of days notice. Became a 5k, jog to get to the event, and yes, same again after. The best/warmest first timers/tourists briefing encountered of any parkrun.

 

Hackney Marshes

HackneyMarshes_Course

 

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Course   XXX

Type – Out and back.

Elevation – Joint flattest parkrun course.

Elevation Grade – 1/5

Terrain – Tarmac path and light gravel path.

Scenery – Lovely course following a winding tree lined path next to the River Lee. Later in the course running right alongside before you reach the turning point.

P.B. Potential – 10/10

Additional Info – The scale of the marshes is something to behold and got a real kick out of seeing where this gem of 90’s advertising was filmed. #Parklife.

 

Harrogate

Harrogate_Course

 

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Course   Probably the easiest course description on the blog. Harrogate comprises three anti-clockwise laps of one half of The Stray. The course is a mix of grass and tarmac paths with corners on grass coned and marshalled to ensure no short cuts. There is a short finish section that peels left off a path to the left onto grass. This happens just after you’ve completed your third full lap.

Type – 3 laps.

Elevation – From memory it felt flat and repetitive. The profile above, and its ranking show there must have been a steady ascent and descent from one of the park to the other.

Elevation Grade – 2.5/5

Terrain – Mainly grass with a short tarmac section.

Scenery – Prim town green type vibe and location.

P.B. Potential – 5/10

Additional Info – Bit similar to Inverness in that its three pretty standard laps. Found this event pretty hard to enjoy other than it being another course experienced.

 

Heaton Park

Heaton_Course

Course – Is about to change so anything I write will be out of date.

Type – TBC.

Elevation – Plenty.

Elevation Grade – 4/5

Terrain – All on good tarmac or gravel paths.

Scenery – TBC.

P.B. Potential – 3/10

Additional Info – One of the bigger UK events attendance wise.

 

Middleton Woods

MiddletonWoods_Course

Course – TBC.

Type – 2 Laps.

Elevation – A fair bit mainly downhill on the way out, then uphill on your return.

Elevation Grade – 3.5/5

Terrain – All tarmac or trail paths with many a speed bump to be mindful of on the initial path downhill from the start.

Scenery – Woodland views, a small clearing and then some views out and over a golf course as you pass a viewpoint on your climb back towards the start/finish.

P.B. Potential – 3/10

Additional Info – Took in Middleton as a pilgrimage to Cowfest II the (probably) annual meet up for parkrun UK tourists.

 

Mile End

MileEnd_Course

 

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Course   XXX

Type – 2 laps, pan and handle.

Elevation – Few bumps with one main climb over a bridge you cross four times during the course.

Elevation Grade – 3/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths.

Scenery – Starts off near Mile End stadium (I was curious to see after the famous Blur gig). Course winds its way through the park with the bridge crossing mentioned above and a short section alongside the canal. You can see the ‘city’ skyline from the park.

P.B. Potential – 6/10

Additional Info – Very personal, but I got bitten by a bug of some kind pre race (not the running kind). Few days later it was all kinds of bleugh. Enjoyed the course but definitely pay attention and bat away any bugs/insects, they’re manky.

 

Millom

Millom_Course

Course – Millom got my attention after it was billed as the UK’s ‘toughest’ parkrun. Stats and research it had the slowest average completion time due to the often challenging and muddy nature of the course. Advice offered was that locals often run in football boots as they appear to be best. In the mood for a challenge I arrive at the tail end of Winter when it was blowing a gale.

With all due respects to the course it was the challenge and reputation that had lured me because three lap courses are known to bore me, so the thought of five laps wasn’t setting my heart aflutter. I chose to wear some Salomon Speedcross trail shoes which have served me well and found those ideal. Although billed as ‘tough’ the course isn’t actually that bad. I probably ran it when not quite at it’s worst but probably muddier than its average. The mud is such that it’s ankle deep in places. It’s energy sapping and just doesn’t allow you to run quickly. Definitely not quite the full blown Tough Mudder level of challenge though. If anything the wind when I visited made it tougher as it really was a gale, fighting for half a lap but then being oh so thankful for that being behind you on the way back.

Millom certainly felt like a course to experience and a tourist box to tick. I think in choosing to visit being sure to do so when the course is at its worst/best is a must. It helps make it what it is. Not sure a visit when dry in the Summer would really have left me with a feeling for what the course can/will offer.

Type – 5 Laps. That’s not a typo.

Elevation – Nothing outrageous but the courses steadily winds and climbs its way to the far end of the course before winding and descending down the other side.

Elevation Grade – 2.5/5

Terrain – (Usually) muddy school playing fields with the emphasis on field.

Scenery – Views across school playing fields in various directions.

P.B. Potential – 1/10

Additional Info – The acclaimed ‘Toughest’ event in the UK. Usually a really ‘cosy’ event attendance wise. The smallest event I’ve yet attended with 16 finishers.

 

Southwark

Southwark_Course

 

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Course   X

Type – 3 laps

Elevation – Pretty flat, no memorable hills or bumps.

Elevation Grade – 1.5/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths throughout.

Scenery – Self contained park with gardens, pond and nearby athletics centre.

P.B. Potential – 7/10

Additional Info – Took in Southwark on a London marathon weekend when it was busy but the park and volunteers coped with ease. Quite a twisty route around the park and pretty pleasant in general.

 

Valentines

Valentines

Course – TBC.

Type – 2 Laps.

Elevation – Mainly flat with a steady gradually incline/descent to from the North East end of the park.

Elevation Grade – 2/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths and one wooden bridge.

Scenery – TBC.

P.B. Potential – 8/10

Additional Info – Really warm and welcoming event team who absolutely love and cherish the NHS. Visited on the NHS 70th celebrations and what a show of thanks and respect they offered – awesome.

 

Victoria Dock

VictoriaDock_Course

Course – TBC.

Type – Out and back horseshoe.

Elevation – Flat as a pancake.

Elevation Grade – 1/5

Terrain – All on tarmac/monoblock paths.

Scenery – Views out across Victoria Dock, nearby hotels, the crystal, the ExCel and the Emirates airline gondolas passing overhead.

P.B. Potential – 10/10

Additional Info – The course where you can arrive by cable car.

 

Workington

Workington_Course

Course – TBC.

Type – Out and back.

Elevation – Wee short sharp bumps and one notably steady long descent. This feels an awful lot longer when it becomes an ascent on the return leg.

Elevation Grade – 2.5/5

Terrain – Tarmac paths.

Scenery – Views over the River Derwent and out and over the Siddick Ponds nature reserve.

P.B. Potential – 6/10

Additional Info – A course that felt like no matter in which direction you ran it was always into the wind.

 

York

York_Course

 

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Course   York isn’t your average parkrun being held at the York Racecourse. The course being a 1.5 lap circuit in an anti-clockwise direction that primarily follows the safety track around the inside of the main racecourse route. The start line is the opposite side of the racecourse from where you finish so involves a five-ten minute walk to get there. York has the potential to be about as flat and quick as courses get. Unusually as well the entire route is visible so it’s very much a course where you can see the full 5k and you’re very aware of how far you still have to go.

From the start the lap follows the relatively hard packed dirt safety track which has short sections of mud/puddles depending on weather and if access to a section of the racecourse has recently been in use. About 80% of a lap is on the safety track that traces its way around the inside of the racecourse proper. As you near the main stand and enclosure you turn 90˚ left onto a smooth tarmac path before shortly turning to your right. This will become the finishing straight next time around but you pile through on your first lap cheered on by many a volunteer. At the end of the straight cones and marshals direct you to take a brief right and left turn that lead to you rejoining the safety track from before. From here it’s a case of following the track all the way back around to the finish you’ve recently passed. About a third of the way into this lap you’ll pass the race start.

Twice to date visited York, and twice fancied having a pop at a quick one. Twice been thwarted by a really strong headwind that regardless of course is always going to ensure its not an easy 5k. The racecourse is really open and exposed so very much luck of the draw. At the time of writing I believe a couple of other ‘York’ courses are in the offing and feel like this could only benefit this the original course. Think it has the tendency to draw numbers in the region of 500-600. The course can handle the numbers but the start and early parts of the run can be very congested as the safety track really only allows for four to five runners abreast. Hoping there may be similarities to when other courses started in Glasgow and allowed for Pollok to ease the strain it was beginning to feel. Final reflection on York was the starting position, first time visiting I’d been a bit caught out by how boxed in everyone was and how long the field could take to spread. On the second visit I took a place that should (hopefully) have respected the estimated time/finish position based on the week before. All was good until about 30 seconds before the start when the numbers just swelled on the grass alongside the safety track. No complaints we’re all there to have fun and get round but would now know to be even more mindful of the boxing in potential having twice appeared and had the same thing happen.

Type – 1.5 laps

Elevation – Pancake flat

Elevation Grade – 1/5

Terrain – Majority of course is on tarmac safety road on the inside of the racing course. Few short mud covered sections dotted around the route at access points.

Scenery – Interesting surroundings being on the York racing course. Not your average venue or course.

P.B. Potential – 10/10

Additional Info – A course where you can see the whole 5k that lays ahead.