Catford

So today at Catford in the London Borough of Lewisham I have come full circle on my tourism adventures as back in June 2016 I started my capital adventures in running all the parkrun in Greater London region in a year for charity and back then there was a total of 47 events.

Now it is great to be back in my beloved London to run event 53 at Catford that is based at Mountsfield park🙂

Parks History

The origins of this park date back to 1845 when the father of the noted microlepidopterist Henry Tibbats Stainton built Mountsfield house including 6 acres of land and gave it to his son as a wedding present!

In 1903 the widow of Henry in her will gave the land over to become a park for the local community with its official opening in August 1905. Since then the park as expanded to now cover 32 acres and annually holds events such as the free Peoples Day festival that attracts 25,000+ visitors.

Course

Catford course map

The course is three clockwise laps of the parameter of Mountsfield park that surface is a mixture of tarmac and trail paths with a large section also run on grass fields!

You start and finish by the bandstand on top of the hill, but on the final lap you run a shorter distance that is when you run up the slope for the final time you turn right towards the bandstand and finish funnel instead of running behind the allotments for the first 2 laps!

Points to note

  • As at running briefing stated parts of this course can get very slippery especially now with a carpet of leaves laying on the course!
  • Love the Strava name for the loop section, “The daft loop” great to see their sense of self honour on this one 🙂

There is a lot to keep you interested on at Mountsfield Park course from a wooded trail path section to a steady incline at the backend of each lap that is a joy for us tourists!

So another course that will stay long in the memory and I would thoroughly recommend this course to my parkrun friends everywhere!!!!!

Facilities

There is free on street parking at Stainton Road next to the park Sat Nav SE6 1AN the parks toilets where available available before the start that is great news!

For the post run coffee to Mountsfield Park Café was first for me as it was lovingly transformed from a shipping container to a vibrate cafe, run by two of the nicest people that you could ever want to meet!

I would like though like to wish everyone involved including Friends of Mountsfield park in trying to get a new cafe for the park all the best in your campaign!!

Other Facilities includes

  • Children’s play area
  • ball court
  • tennis courts
  • football pitch
  • bandstand
  • meadow
  • ornamental garden

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Ben Payton and his team of volunteers for being great hosts with special mention to your community who made me feel like I was at home straight from the moment I turned up, outstanding!!!! Well done Catford a real credit to parkrun UK!

So what is next for me is some local parkrun volunteering, a reunion with very good friends at their home event at Basingstoke on 26th January, then after that I am having a break from parkrun tourism for a while!

I will be back rest assured just a little bit quieter that’s all, but until then I would like to wish all 105 different parkrun events I have attended the following, you have all inspired me with your selfless dedication to your local communities, hats off to every last one of you 🙂

Love

Mark aka Silent Runner

Foots Cray Meadows

So I arrived at the stunning location of Foots Cray Meadows, Sidcup that is the largest green open space in the London Borough of Bexley at 97 hectares!

Meadows History

Foots Cray Meadows was originally part of Foots Cray Place estate with the country house built-in 1757 but sadly demolished after a fire in 1949.

So in 1778 Thomas Coventry inherited the estate and commissioned the world-renowned landscape gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in 1780 to design a beautiful parkland and woodland landscape, making the most of the River Cray by widening it out into a ribbon shaped lake and you cross over it by the now famous five arch bridge!!!

This is why I love parkrun so much with the delight of running in some of the most beautiful parks the UK has to offer, 9am every Saturday morning is an adventure and a delight for this tired sole, I love parkrun!!!!

Always a pleasure to meet up with very good tourist friend in Matthew Wateridge (picture below left) and Matthew I am looking forward to seeing you all again on our 26th January 2018 reunion meet up at your home parkrun of The War Memorial Park, Basingstoke.

Me with Matthew Wateridge

Course

Foots Cray Meadows course map

This is an out and back course that start is near the children’s playground, then you head off to complete dual clockwise loops, the first is the larger one and the second is almost half its size. Once you have finished the second loop it is a run back to the finish funnel that is next to the start!

The running surface this mainly a mixture of grass and trail paths and there is a pronounced steady incline on the larger loop towards Rectory Lane!

Points to note

  • Definitely after prolonged rain a trail shoes course
  • Surprising number of hallows on the course that can collect mud and water

I would say this is a beautiful course that is perfect if you are training for or just love running cross-country!!

Facilities

There is free parking at Kelsey’s Farm Shop Sat Nav DA14 5ET that is a 10 min walk from the start of the parkrun. The toilets at the shop are also open before the start of the event that is always welcome to us tourists and shower facilities at £1 for 10 mins!

For the post run coffee we retired to Kelsey’s Farm Café, which was a treat for a hungry park runner and they had a great menu to select from 🙂 Remember on presentation of your parkrun barcode you get 10% off your bill, nice touch 🙂

Farm shop cafe

While there I had to buy some fresh produce from the farm shop afterwards and all I am going to say is every item that I purchased was delicious 🙂

Farm shop

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Rob O’Halloran and his team of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome and it is hard to believe that you have been only going as an event since July, well done guys!!!!

So if you ever wanted to run around a beautiful landscape originally designed by Capability Brown then Foots Cray Meadows has to be high on your parkrun tourist list, shear heaven!!!!!

What next for me is just a little matter of regaining my Greater London parkrun region status at Catford next week that will be 53 events completed, looking forward to it 🙂

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Clapham Common

So after a long gap away touring the home counties I am back in London to regain my parkrun regionnaire status that starts today at Clapham Common!

This will be my 51 completed different event out of 53 in the Greater London region 🙂

The park

Clapham Common is one of the most iconic and largest parks in Greater London being 87 hectres in size and is situated between Clapham, Battersea and Balham!

The Common’s history goes as far back as 1086 in the Doomsday book as common land owned by the Manor of Clapham!

I love the parks grade II listed bandstand that was built-in 1890 and is the largest surviving example in London today! On a warm summer evening it would be great to sit there and listen to music playing from this beautiful imposing structure, heaven!!!!

Clapham Common banstand

Volunteer Tourism

So I thought that I would try something different on my tourist adventures, with the permission of their core team I was Event 27 Clapham Commons tail walker 🙂

Why tail walking very simple I needed to pick a volunteering role that would not stop me from registering a time for this event!

The idea came from a very good tourist friend Dave Wilkinson (pictured left below) from Leeds who was also at Clapham today volunteering as well as running with his role being as pre event set up!

Me with Dave Williamson

For the record Dave is an avid park-runner who has amassed a total of 484 events that includes 205 different ones and likes to avidly volunteer when touring!

You are a credit to all us parkrun tourists Dave!!!!!!

Course

Clapham Common course map

The course is a simple 2 clockwise laps of the parameter of Clapham Common park that’s running surface is a mixture of tarmac and earth paths, very flat in terms of elevation!!!!

Points to Note

  • Due to the narrow run paths they state this course is not suitable for buggies
  • After prolonged rain I could see trail shoes being advisable on this course
  • There are a few places where exposed tree roots could catch out the unwary
  • At the start they organised volunteers to display finish time positions along the start line queue

Facilities

So if the parkrun I can get to is easily reached by public transport then I will take it, trust me Luton to Clapham Common is as simple as you can get to reach with 2 London underground tubes stations alone bordering this park with Clapham South being the closest to the start 🙂

Toilets are available before the start of the event and are 550 metres away from where the run briefing starts!

For the post run coffee we retired to the lovely La Baita cafe situated inside the park close to the finish line!!!

La Baita cafe

I love this urban park as there is so much going on from jogging, football matches, Skate park, fishing…….

Great to see how every inch of this park is lovingly used by the local community it serves!!!!

Final Verdict

I would like to thank todays Run Director Frank Elston and all the volunteers for making me and Dave feel welcome and part of your team!

Special mention Clapham Common has not been going long as an event and they had their largest run attendance to today with 620 park-runners and they done a brilliant job in its event smoothly, top work guy’s!!!!!!

Clapham Common Volunteers

Also great to bump into so many tourist friends including Carl and Olivia Heaps, Mark Shotton, Dave Williamson and my top buddy Martin Ball who bought his work colleague and friend Rob along (far right of photo below).

Welcome to our crazy lovely tourist family mate!!!

Clapham Common Tourist friends

So finally very simple if you are looking for a fast time in an iconic London park, then Clapham Common is a must visit for any self-respecting tourist, you have been told!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Higginson, Marlow

On a morning when the heavens opened up and sensible people were indoors, I realised that they were the ones missing out. I was running at a stunning location with very good tourist friends at Higginson park, Marlow, Buckinghamshire  🙂

So Higginson park is 32 acres in size and has been a public park since 1926, but its history goes far back as garden since 1758. In 2016 Higginson collected it’s 13th straight prestigious Green Flag award and it borders one side onto the famous river Thames!

Must admit one of favourite parkrun tourist pleasures is running on courses beside a river and the last time I ran this close to this great river was at Kingston parkrun that was part of my capital parkrun adventure. I felt privileged to make her acquaintance again!

Tourist Celebrations

The reason why I was here this week for their event 8 was to help celebrate two parkrun tourist stalwarts Andrew Chilcraft (left of picture) and Kevin Brown who were both running their respective 250th parkrun on Saturday, wow outstanding effort guys!!!

Andrew & Kevin

For the record Andrew is a event director at Linford Woods, Milton Keynes and Kevin Brown from Bedfont Lakes parkrun has been a very good friend of mine friend throughout my adventures!!!

On this celebration it was great to see so members of our tourist community again, share experiences and just be happy in each others company!!!!

Tourist group shot

Finally I need to say Kevin has been there for a number of my important parkrun milestones, but the one occasion that I will cherish forever is when he and a couple of close parkrun friends run with me at Homewood parkrun to support me after the loss of my beloved dad, you are a top man and I am lucky to know you mate!!!!

Me with Kevin

Course

Marlow course map

The course is very simple in design, you run two anticlockwise laps of Higginson park, then run a very scenic 2 km out and back route alone the tow path beside the river Thames, finally finish where you started by the skate park!

The course as you would expect is very flat and for a majority of the route surface is made up of gravel paths.

Points to note

  • No dogs permitted on this course
  • Not suitable for buggies runners
  • The temporary pontoon bridge needs to be crossed with caution in wet weather
  • Be very wary of runners trying to overtake in both directions on this narrow footpath out and back section!
  • Finally if you position yourself right at the start this differently is a PB still course!

My time 37:25

Facilities

There is pay & display parking at Higgington park with charges of just £1.20 up to 2 hours Sat Nav SL7 2AE and toilets where available inside the park before the start of the parkrun that is always a bonus!

For the post run coffee we retired to The Resolute cafe that is situated inside the park for a well-earned bacon roll 🙂

The Resolute cafe

Other facilities included

  • Skate park
  • Leisure centre
  • Children’s playground
  • Museum
  • Status of 5 x Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave

Final Verdict

I would like to thank all the Hi Vis heroes at Higginson who supported all the runners in the most horrendous of weather conditions, it is hard to believe you have only completed eight events, excellent stuff guy’s!!!!

So would I recommend Higginson, Marlow to you all and the answer would be a resounding yes, beautiful town and a fast scenic course along the river Thames. Heaven of a parkrun event!!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Hazelwood

After one month away it was great to be back touring again today at Hazelwood, Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey on the start of new mini adventure to regain my record of running all the parkrun events inside the M25.

The current total stands at 64 events and after Hazelwood I have only 4 to go, hopefully though they won’t add a few more in the meantime 🙂

A Sporting Complex

The base for this weeks parkrun is London Irish Rugby Club ÂŁ12 million state of the art 63 acres Hazelwood Training centre that was officially opened on the 1st July 2014

The site includes 17 rugby pitches 5 of which are full sized and everything about this centre is to give the modern rugby player the facilities they require to be the best they can in preparation for match day game!!

 

Tourist legends

The beauty of touring is it always a pleasure to bump into fellow kindred spirts and at Hazelwood I met again two legends of the fraternity!!!!

Tourist Legends at Hazelwood

First up is Chris Cowell (red top above) who was the first park-runner ever to complete 100 different parkrun events on 18th August 2012 and in his honour anyone who reaches this goal now becomes a member of the unofficial but brilliant tourist Cowell Club!!

For the record his wife Linda was the first woman soon after to complete the same feat and Chris now has run 193 different after Hazelwood!!!!

Next up is Mike Bristow (blue top above) run director at Wanstead Flats that I first met on my parkrun capital adventure on 15/04/2017 and he has now run 206 different events!

Can I say these guys were true gents and it was all my pleasure to chat with them in the cafeteria afterwards at Hazelwood!!!

Course

Hazelwood Course map

The course is 2 and a half laps around the parameter of Hazelwood rugby pitches that surface is almost exclusively run on grass apart from a small gravel section.

Points to Note

  • The terrain was very flat and fast
  •  After a long period of rain this is definitely a trial running shoe course
  • Love the fact that London Irish lend the parkrun core team a motorised buggy to set up the course, I am completely jealous 🙂

My time was 36:53 very happy with that under the circumstances!

Facilities

There is ample free parking at Hazelwood Sat Nav TW16 6QU and toilets are available inside the centre before the start of the parkrun that is always welcome!

For the post run coffee we retired to Hazelwood cafeteria where there was a wide range of cooked breakfast available to tuck into afterwards 🙂

This outstanding venue is there also for the local community to enjoy in addition to the rugby from Fireworks display’s, Film nights and of course venue hiring!

Final verdict

I would like to thank the run director Matthew Sartin and his team of volunteers for making us feel all extremley welcome, top stuff guys!!!!!

Hazelwood volunteer shot

Also I must give a special mention to the London Irish Rugby Club for opening their world class facilities to allow parkrun to use them every Saturday morning. Outstanding community spirt that should be rightly applauded!!!!!!!

Finally hopefully be back one day to enjoy your hospitality and please let me have a go on that marvellous buggy guy’s 🙂

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

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