Leavesden Juniors

This week my volunteer tourism journey took me to Leavesden Juniors Abbotts Langley, Hertfordshire that park has a very interesting story to tell and I met up with a top parkrun tourist friend on their milestone celebration!

Leavesden park

History – Leavesden Country Park

This Junior parkrun is based at lovely 27 hectares green flag park of Leavesden Country Park that used to be the grounds of Leavesden Asylum between 1870-1932 and then after to its close in 1997 became Leavesden Mental Hospital.

Leavesden Asylum 1905

At its height the asylum had in the census of 1881 a population of 2085 people consisting of 1638 patients and 447 staff that dwarfed the local population of the parish of Abbotts Langley.

Milestone Celebration

The reason behind this visit was my lovely parkrun tourist friend Wai Meng Au-Yeong kindly invited me to attend Leavesden Juniors. So I decided to volunteer on a day she was scheduled to be the run director on duty as a marshall and to my shear joy when I found out it was her 100th separate days of volunteering at this event and had delicious cake to celebrate this brilliant milestone!

I greatly look forward to our next encounter Wai Meng on our parkrun tourist journeys and for the record Leavesden as you probably already know are very luck to have her as a member of your core team!

Course

Leavesden Juniors course map

The course starts in the middle of the parks main field and goes in an anti-clockwise direction around the parameter, then soon as they reach the trees they turn right onto a woodland tarmac path.

Once they run a short distance along this path, they complete two anti-clockwise laps of a football pitch field. Finally they run back the way they come from and this time run a clockwise lap of the main field to the finish funnel.

The course is flat in nature and is almost run entirely on grass apart from the small tarmac woodland path section. Finally I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of rain we have had recently how well the course held up!

Love the high five foam hand that was given for me too use at my marshal station. We are going to have to get a few these for our Wardown Juniors back in Luton I think 🙂

Foam volunteer hand

Facilities

There is free parking at Leavesden Country Park closest sat nav WD5 0NX and toilets are available onsite. For the post run coffee they retire to the parks cafe The Woodlands Cafe that opens their doors at 9am on weekends!

Other Facilities include

  • Walking/biking paths
  • Football pitch
  • Wildlife areas
  • Tennis courts
  • Children’s play area
  • Outdoor gym for adults

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Wai Meng and everyone at Leavesden Juniors for the warmest of welcomes on my visit, greatly appreciated and you are all a real credit to our junior parkrun community!

Volunteer and 100 celebration shot

So finally if you are looking for some inspiration for junior parkrun tourism for your children then I can highly recommend this event to pay a visit!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

South Woodham Ferrers

Great to be touring again with this week visiting South Woodham Ferrers, Essex that is just 8 miles from Chelmsford with a current population of approx 16,453

History

In 1889 a train station was built on greenfield land to serve the village of Woodham Ferrers that laid just about 1 mile away. The station was the catalyst for the birth of the town of South Woodham Ferrers with estates being built up slowly around it.

The next big jump in the towns history was in 1972 when Essex County Council decided to turn South Woodham Ferrers into a new Riverside Country Town that included large housing development of the surrounding area into the town you see today!

New Friends

Always Good to meet new parkrun tourists to me in Sandra & Stephen Rhodes with mascot Dudley accompanying then from Wisbech, Norfolk.

A new one for me is Sandra is a keen photographer and takes pictures around the course she visits and shares them with the local parkrun community with this being her current this weeks excellent work link, lovely touch Sandra!

Who knows one day I may pop up for a visit to your local parkrun at Kings Lynn, until then it was all my pleasure to meet you guy’s 🙂

Course

South Woodham Ferrers course map

This event because of the bad weather was run on their alternative single clockwise lap winter course along the seawall banks of river Crouch and surrounding marshland. The running surface is a mixture of grass and gravel paths with very little elevation to worry about!

Points to note

  • Very exposed with no protection from the weather
  • Small sharp inclines to get you between the different levels of this course
  • Bring trail shoes as a option in wet weather

I loved this single lap course with the majestic beauty of a tidal river and surrounding marshland. To be fair their winter course held up well to the extremely wet weather of late and in the right conditions would be a very fast course to run!

My time was 38:47 and very happy where I am fitness wise at present!

Facilities

There is free parking available at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park sat nav CM3 5WP. Before the start there are 2 portable toilets available outside the adventure park main entrance gates to their left with the park itself not opening till 10am

For the record this car park is about a 5 min walk away from the start and even though there is parkrun signage directing you to the start it is easy to get confused!

There is a smaller satellite car park next to the start line that is an option if you wish to use it, with a map I created below showing it’s location from the main designated Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park car park!

For the post run coffee we retired the lovely little mobile cafe Phoebes for our well earned cuppa and I even brought a bag of swan food for a £1 for our geese back home at Wardown Park to feed next week 🙂

img_2216

If you have young children accompanying you to this event it will be well worth a visit to Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park afterwards for a family treat!

Final Verdict

I would like to thank this weeks run director Helen, Hi-Vis volunteers and community for giving me and my tourist friends the warmest welcomes on our visit!

For me one of the most important ingredients of any parkrun event is it’s community and the biggest complement I can give South Woodham Ferrers is like I was running at my home parkrun at Luton, you are a top lovely community!

So if you want to run something different on a beautiful tidal river course, then South Woodham Ferrers has to be very high on your tourist list!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

National Trust parkruns

I have been so stunned with the beauty of National Trust parkrun’s in the last month that I  became a member with the eventual goal of running all 27 of them!

Current National Trust Events

Wimpole Estate

What a treat to be running again at another beautifully maintained National Trust property with today’s parkrun at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire that magnificent hall is surrounded by 3000 acres of park and farmland!!!

History

The Chicheley family owned Wimpole estate for some 250 from 1428 onwards and between 1640-1650 Thomas Chicheley built the beautiful hall that you can see today!

The house after 1686 then went through a number of wealthy families until 1976 when the then Elsie Bambridge left Wimpole Estate in her will to the National Trust that still run it today.

National trust

I would like to heap a great deal of praise on the National Trust who do an outstanding job in persevering these historical estates and allowing parkrun UK to open events to share in the beauty of running around these magnificent parkland estates!

Congratulations

The main purpose of my visit to Wimpole was to help celebrate with my very good tourist friend the lovely Christine Imbert who run her 250 milestone parkrun on Saturday, outstanding effort Christine!

For the record the cake and company made for a very lovely morning. Great to meet Christine’s friends Pippa White & the TV (Tame Volunteer), Alison Symonds-Tayler, Miriam Jorna, Dennis Lancaster, Lindsay Middleton.

parkrun World Tourists

Special mention to another one of Christine’s friends who also attended Cass Castleton (pictured below in blue cap) who is a parkrun tourist legend, founder of the Facebook parkrun Word tourist Group and holder of so many records it makes me giddy just thinking about them all!

Tourist friends group shot

If you fancy qualifying to become a member of the world tourist group you will have to complete a parkrun in least 4 separate parkrun countries 🙂

He also brings cakes for all the Hi-Vis volunteers at each parkrun event to enjoy afterwards, great touch Cass!!!!

Happy Birthday

Finally on the mention of celebrations big well done to local park runner Maggie (lady in red top) who celebrated her 50th birthday parkrun on Saturday!

Happy belated birthday Maggie and I hope you enjoyed your run 🙂

50th birthday parkrun Maggie

Course

Wimpole course Map

Beautiful single clockwise 5k lap around Wimpole Estate that is undulating in design and is almost entirely run on grassland!

Dog Loop

A first for me on my tours, never seen a separate start line for park runners running with their dog’s that is about 200metres ahead of the main field, simultaneously start with the main field, they then run a extra dog loop just after about 1km for them to make up the 5K distance 👍🏻

Dog Loop Sign

Great idea to split the start locations as this event regularly gets over 400 runners every week!

Other points to note

  • The main climb is about the 2km point with a steady rise followed by a right turn with a steep short incline to the top of the hill
  • This event state trail shoes is best to run in at Wimpole but in dry weather normal trainers will be fine
  • The grass paths are a little bit uneven, so just keep an eye on the route ahead
  • After either prolonged wet weather or in the winter months they revert back to their multi lap winter course that is run around the flat part of the estate!
  • Finally there maybe cattle on the course, so just to be weary around them

So, Wimpole Estate course is a beautiful single lap course that challenges your fitness, but is 100% well worth the effort to complete just for the views alone!

My time was 43:13

Facilities

There is paid meter parking at Wimpole Estate with a flat £2 day charge but is free though for all National Trust members Sat Nav SG8 0BW. Toilets are available at the back of the stable block near the car park!

For the post run coffee, you have a choice between a mobile cafe run by the estate next to the finish or if you want to sit down with your hot drink and food the is always the lovely Old Rectory Restaurant that opens its doors from 9am!

There is so much extra things to do at Wimpole after parkrun you could easily spend the rest of the day they’re just exploring!

Final verdict

I would like to thank this week’s run director Christian and his team of volunteers for making us all in our group feel extremely welcome on our visit, top work guys!!

So, if you are looking for a stunning single lap event to attend then Wimpole Estate has to be high on your parkrun tourist list, you have all been told!!!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Bethlem Royal Hospital

Always a personal pleasure to be back in the capital running a new parkrun event for me that has a great history attached to it with today’s event being no exception at Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham.

History

The history of Bethlem Royal Hospital dates back to its foundation in 1247 in the reign of Henry VIII and was originally located in the Bishopsgate ward of the City of London that is now is the site of Liverpool Street Station.

In 1930 the hospital moved to Beckenham where it is today based in 270 acres of beautiful green space parkland that’s where today’s parkrun event is held!

For the record the hospital remit is to help as they state “We provide the widest range of services in the United Kingdom (UK) for people with mental health problems or an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Pioneers

It was great to see Bethlem Royal Hospital as a pioneer for being the first parkrun in the UK to be run inside NHS grounds. I cannot hide my admiration of this hospital trust to promote their goal of the benefits of running to one’s mental health and wellbeing, allowing parkrun into your beautiful grounds after I found this out when a spoke to Mary this weeks tail walker who works at the hospital!

This has to be one of the most heartwarming stories that I have ever written about on my parkrun journeys!

Special Mentions

I need to say how proud I was in running at the same event as Kevin Burnett he may have been a first timer at Bethlem, but he still running strong in his eighties with only has 6 parkrun events left to run from reaching the outstanding milestone total of completing 500 parkrun events!

Kevin you are a true legend and ambassador to us all and this is why we all love parkrun so much sir!

Also a pleasure to bump Andy Bond who I first met at Southwark parkrun back in July 2016 near the start of my capital charity parkrun adventure!

He had a brilliant run, then barcode scanned afterwards and I would like to wish you Andy all the best in your future running sir!

Votes Cast

A bit of fun over the past week I decided to let me tourist friends decide for one time only vote on which parkrun to run on Saturday between Bethlem Royal Hospital and East Grinstead.

The result was close as you can see with Bethlem finishing as a narrow winner, but don’t worry East Grinstead I will run your course in the new year to complete the parkrun tourist challenge of joining the Compass Club 🙂

Voting result for 21st September parkrun

Course

Bethlam course map

The course is two anticlockwise laps of the parameter of two fields with a short narrow connecting woodland path between them with a short run down a path to the finish at the end of the second lap. The surface is entirely run on grass which is gently undulating in nature that as they say is also uneven in places!

Points to note

  • No dogs allowed on this course
  • In wet conditions it would be advisable to wear trail running shoes
  • When the ground is firm this can be a fast course to run with wide paths to overtake

Enjoyed my run with a good time achieved by me for where I am at the moment fitness wise 37:43

Facilites

There is limited parking available at the hospital Sat nav BR3 3BX, but I decided to travel by train from Luton with the closest station to the hospital being Eden Park station.

Please be aware though that Eden Park is easily a good 10 min walk away from the start of the parkrun, so allow effort time to get to the start line!

For the post run coffee we retired to the hospital’s Community Centre Cafe and there are toilet facilities there as well, but please be aware they only take cash only payments for refreshments!

Final Verdict

I would like to thank this weeks run director Paul Cregg and his team of volunteers for making us all feel welcome and doing a great job! Good luck to Colette Short who will has her first stint as run director at Bethlem next week 🙂

Bethlem volunteer shot

Finally a very big thank you to everyone concerned at Bethlem Royal Hospital for opening up your lovely grounds to allow parkrun to hold an event here, absolutely brilliant guys!!!

So for me it is Londone again 56 Greater London parkrun events completed and everyone has a special place in my heart!

So London it is goodbye for now,

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

 

 

Yeovil Montacute

With the summer coming to an end I cannot think of a more stunning location to attend as a parkrun tourist than in Yeovil, Montacute, Somerset!

Montacute House

The event is based at the beautiful location of Montacute House in the small village of Montacute and is about 4 miles outside of Yeovil.

The house was completed in 1601 under the visionary ownership of Sir Edward Phelips and now is lovingly maintained by the National Trust that describes the house as, “Montacute is a masterpiece of Elizabethan Renaissance architecture and design. With its towering walls of glass, glow of ham stone and surrounding gardens, it is a place of beauty and wonder.

If you get a chance please do explore the beautiful house and gardens, trust me you will be handsomely rewarded for the effort!

6th Anniversary

One joy of touring is by a complete twist of fate you end up at a events anniversary and in Yeovil’s case their sixth one with a fun nautical pirate theme 🙂

The reasoning behind the theme is run directors Martin play on the words Pirates in Men’s Pants 🙂 Top idea and as you can see a lot of the local patron’s joined in the fun including Emma, dad Chris and Beans the dog, pleasure to meet you all guy’s 🙂

Alphabet Challenge

One extra incentive to run Yeovil, Montacute is the tourist alphabet challenge of running parkrun events that start with the different letters of the alphabet with their only being two parkruns with the letter Y in the UK and they are Yeovil and York.

Great to see so many tourists there on Saturday including Stephan Wells, Rachel Katherine, Sofie Haidon, Juli Wood, Nick Baggott, Donna Maskell and last but definitely not least local tourist friend to me Mark Wilcox 🙂

Course

Yeovil Montacute course map

The course consists of two parts a inner anti-clockwise lap of 2km that starts and finishes outside the house, then a 3km anti-clockwise lap of the perimeter of the estates park. Finally you finish almost where you started and run down treelined avenue for about 100metres facing away from the house!

The course is almost entirely run on grass undulating paths all but a small broken tarmac path section running outwards on the inner lap section!

Points to Note

  • After a period of wet weather I would recommend running in trail shoes
  • There is a short steep rise about a quarter of a mile from the end of the course, what on Strava they lovingly call it Killer Hill
  • Please remember in winter months Yeovil run away from Montacute House on their B course that is based in the town of Yeovil itself

Great time running around the course, chatting to the local park runners and taking in the views especially running towards Montacute House along the treelined avenue 🙂

My time was 42:21

Facilities

There is free parking at the House sat nav TA15 6XP and toilets are available before the event starts at about 8:30am when the National Trust opens the main doors into the park!

For me I turned running this event into a mini holiday as there was no way that I was going to drive a total combined distance of 302 miles and a parkrun in one day!  I stayed at the lovely Yeovil Court Hotel that is just about 4 miles drive from this event.

For the post run refreshments you have got to the houses cafe legendary cream tea, may not be good for the waistline but I truly don’t care 🙂

Cream tea

Final Verdict

I would love to thank from the bottom of my heart today’s run director Martin Chaffey and his team of volunteers for making it a special birthday event for all of us attending, top work guys!!!!!

With Martin run director

So my fellow parkrun tourists Yeovil, Montacute is a stunning location to run and this has to be put high on your events to do list, you have all been told!!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Alphabet Challenge

This is my list of parkrun events that each start off with a different letter of the alphabet.

Still to complete letters Q, Z and any parkrun completed that does not have a link means they were run before I started to write blog parkrun reports!

 

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