Event 68 Banstead Woods

It was great to run in a natural environment like Banstead Woods, Surrey that’s whole parkrun course ceiling is covered in a canopy of trees in one of the oldest parkrun events around, simply brilliant!

So this ancient woods history itself goes back in medieval times to being a royal deer park that both King Edward I and II gave the woods as a gift to their respective queens, with the last Queen that was bestowed this honour was Catherine of Aragon the first wife of Henry VIII and she kept the woods until her death in 1534.

In much more modern times the woods were acquired by first Surrey County Council in 1934 then as it is now ownership was passed onto Reigate and Banstead Borough Council. Also during the second world war the neighbouring Park Farm was used as a base for both Canadian troops and also they held prisoners of war in the grounds!

Now today it is great to see the famous C.S. Lewis book from every child’s youth, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” has been lovingly brought to life in the form of a Narnia trial!

At the moment it contains four iconic wooden sculptors of the book generated from deadwood taken out of Banstead itself with all the work created by the very talented artist Ella Fielding, well worth a view!


Banstead Woods course map

The course is just under 2 anticlockwise undulating laps of Banstead woods that is made up entirely of woodland trail paths!

The start is over halfway up the only notable climb on the course that will only be run up in its entirety on the second lap! Interesting from a running point of view there seemed to be large sections of the course run downhill especially to the finish that is always welcome for tired limbs!

Point to note

  • Be careful of exposed tree roots on this kind of course, especially as yesterday they were covered up by fallen leaves!
  • There were also a few patches on the trail paths that were quite boggy that are well worth running around the edges at all possible!
  • Finally great thing of the length of each lap there is not much of a hazard of faster runners overlapping you!

My time was not great at 37:13 but it was a real pleasure to run this course that must be brilliant to participate on in each all of the 4 seasons of the year!


There are two free car parks for this parkrun and I chose the event car park at Park Farm that holds space for 50 cars, Sat Nav SM7 2BY

Unfortunately though there are no toilet facilities at this event and because I already knew this I used the facilities on the nearby service station of Cobham on the M25!

For the post run coffee they retire to The Mint pub, shame I could not join you guys maybe next time though!

Finally on this subject I would definitely recommend if you have time after your parkrun to take in one of the planned trail routes through this beautiful Surrey countryside, you have been told!!

Final Verdict

I would like to thank the run director Chris Phelan and his team of volunteers for making me feel extremely welcome, also again special mention like last week to the friendliness of the local parkrun community who made me feel like one of the regulars from minute one of my arrival!!!

Banstead Woods Volunteer shot

So I would throughly recommend attending one the oldest parkrun events running through these lovely woods especially when the bluebells come out in spring, must be a beautiful sight to behold 🙂



Event 69 Nonsuch park 09-12-2017

Extra News

It was great to hear that two of my close running friends Amanda Rankin & Liz Evans who respectfully completed together their one hundredth parkrun on Saturday at Luton, Wardown 🙂

Top work ladies, I am now only 22 parkruns behind you guys!


Also a special mention to Lucinda Philpott in completing her English Athletics, Leader in Running Fitness course yesterday and in so doing becomes the latest coach at our running club Stopsley Striders!

We are very lucky to have you onboard Lu and I am sure you will be a great success!



Event 67 Dartford

On a very cool crisp autumn morning where do you start with Central Park, Dartford Kent with so much happening in the 2 hours I was at this event, maybe meeting up with very good parkrun tourist friends or chatting to an inspirational lady who run her 100th parkrun or a running blogger legend that I can only admire, but as always I will start with the park itself  that has very interesting history!

The parks origins date back to 1903 when a very kind gesture by one Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Newman Kidd offered 5 acres of his land to Dartford council for recreational purposes to the local community! After a lot of toing and froing the council finally excepted the offer in 1905 and this became the start of this lovely park that we see today with the River Darent cutting a path through it!



I had the great privilege to meet Kayley Loft who was celebrating her 100th parkrun! This is no ordinary lady though as Kayley back in 2015 saw parkun as a safe friendly supporting way of getting fit with friends support!

Wow in just over 2 1/2 years Kayley has lost 8 stones in weight and knocked 22 minutes off her home parkrun time, you are amazing my dear and I take my hat off to you as a role model to us all, with your determination and dedication shows what results can be achieved, truly outstanding achievement!

I also had the privilege of finally meeting Steven Stockwell of whom I am a great admirer of who apart from being an excellent runner writes the most brilliant of running blogs Amazingly he wrote a report of my home parkrun Luton, Wardown just last week and for the record he is a great guy to have a chat with to boot!

With Steven Stockwell

Last but definitely not least it was great to be in the company of so many good tourist friends with a special mention to Kevin Brown, Andrew James, Dave Thomas and last but definitely not least Robert Kidd 🙂


Dartford course map

This course is 2 1/2 anticlockwise laps of Central Park that start and finish by Central Park Athletics track. First small lap is 700m around the playing fields, the 2 large laps includes a trail section and a run around the parks garden area!

Terrain is a mixture of tarmac paths, small section of gravel and a large loop section on grass/trail paths, mainly flat in elevation up to the backend of the trail section that has a short sharp little hill.

Points to note

  • Even though the course looks complication in design it is straightforward to run with it being well well sign posted and marshalled!
  • Difficult to chose which running footwear especially in well conditions because of the multi terrain nature of the course, I went with trail shoes because of the recent wet weather we have had!
  • Be very aware of the exposed tree roots on the short uphill section as they are difficult to pick up visually when running!

So if you like the challenge of running on multi terrain surfaces the Dartford is for you, my time was 35:07


There is a free car park at Central Park Athletics Track Sat Nav DA1 1JP but please be aware they like to lock the gate to the car park after 11am. Also that is good to know is a free well maintained public toilet open before the start of the parkrun, all these facilities are very close to the start of the event!

For the post run coffee we all retired back to the Dartford Harriers clubhouse for a well deserved hot drink on such a cold day 🙂

Before I left I had to find the famous son of Dartford lead singer of The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger statue in the park and he was accompanied by two other of the towns sound makers Vox Amplifier invented in 1950’s and the Dartford warbler, well worth having your picture taken by it, lovely touch!

Mick Jagger Statue with Amplifier

Other Facilities Include

  • Visitors Centre
  • Central Park Bandstand
  • Building Bridges
  • Waterplay
  • Fresh Air Fitness Equipment
  • Princes Tunnel
  • Skatepark

Final verdict

I would like to thank the run director Barry Nicholson and his team volunteers for all making us feel extremely welcome! Good luck to Kayley on her future running adventures and Steven look forward with relish to your next blog post mate!

Dartford Volunteers

So Dartford I think you have something special going on there, the community spirt and hospitality rivals some of my most memorable parkrun events I have visited, now feeling homesick now!!!



Event 68  Banstead Woods 02–12-2017

Event 66 Cassiobury

Where do you start at Cassiobury park, Watford on a day of parkrun milestone celebrations, well you start of with the beautiful park itself of course!

Cassiobury for over 250 years was once the home of the Earls of Essex, then in 1909 part of the estate including Cassiobury House (unfortunately demolished in 1927) was purchased Watford Borough Council to make way for this splendid 190 aces park that we see today!

Included in its boundary is a local nature reserve and on the west side the Grand union canal runs by all to delight park users!

I would like congratulate the lovely Vicky Hamblin on celebrating her 100th Cowell event at Cassiobury today that means completing 100 different parkrun events, brilliant effort!!

Also thanks again for allowing me to be part of the Basingstoke crew that is a top bunch of tourist that I am delighted to call you my friends!

It is always great to meet fellow Stopsley Striders club members who have shared my parkrun adventures over the last 16 months, always good to see Liz Davies and many thanks for coming along today!

Selfie with Liz Davies


Course map Cassiobury park

The course is 2.5 anticlockwise laps that is a very flat & fast tarmac surface that starts at the Rickmansworth road entrance and finish funnel is beside the cafe.

Points to note!

  • This is a very popular parkrun with over 300 runners each week, so I would recommend place yourself at the start where you think you will finish the race otherwise it will mean a lot of overtaking on the grass!
  • large parts of this course is tree lined so in wet conditions in the autumn could get very slippery
  • There is white-painted line down the middle on some sections of the path on the course that indicate cycle lane that is on the inside part of the path, so be care and ideally stay on the walking side of these lines for safety!

So if you want to test yourself and see how faster time you can achieve then Cassiobury is definitely the course to run, it easily matches Dulwich & Hackney Marshes for PB style courses.

My time and not being really fit at the moment was 33.29 that indicates how fast this course is to run!


Parking for this event is at Watford tube station Sat Nav WD18 7LE please note that if you are paying by cash it will be £2.20 for all day Saturday! Before the parkrun started the station staff at Watford station kindly let us use the toilets on the station platform!

Watford Tube Station

For the obligatory post run coffee we retired to the lovely The Cha Cafe that is situated inside the park and for the kids has a children’s play area! I would also like to add that they made Vicky day even more special by helping taking photos and promoting her on their Facebook page, great touch guys!!

The Cha Cafe

Final verdict

I would like to thank Alistair Balderson and his team of volunteers for making us feel extremely welcome today! So finally you are looking for a PB style beautiful course then Cassiobury is a must for you!

Cassiobury volunteer & tourists

Extra News

Today was a large number of parkrun milestones that I must mention starting off with my two very good parkrun buddies Kevin Brown & Paul Bliss who have cheered me on and kept me company on my adventures!

100 club

For Kevin it was his 100th Cowell parkrun event at Hackney Marshes, London and Paul run his 100th parkrun at Cannon Hill, Birmingham. Well done to both of your and I look forward to bump into you again in the near future!

99 club

Crazy but we had lot of Vicky’s friends on 99 parkrun milestones yesterday including Karen & John Coles both on 99 different events and Wendy Hewett just needing one more for running 100 parkrun, have a great time on your 100 events guys and eat plenty of cake afterwards!

PS Mark I loved the 99 ice cream touch yesterday mate!

99 ice cream celebration

50 club

It was great to hear very good friends in Beccy Shotbolt and Sharon Roberts both celebrating their respective 50th parkrun at my home event of Luton ,Wardown. Miss you guy’s and love the hair, may need to borrow it one day 🙂

Sharon & Beccy 50th

Event 67 Dartford 25-11-17

Houghton Hall Junior

What a brilliant concept Junior parkruns are and today I just had to support Houghton Hall my local event as a marshal! So for the record in 2014 parkrun UK organised junior parkrun series that now has 190 events held over the UK every Sunday morning!

It’s great to see kids aged between 4-14 enjoy running 2K around their local park and what a lovely park Houghton Hall is to visit, with Lottery Funding of over 2 Million pounds they have turned this into a must go venue for the local community to enjoy!


Course map

The course is two anticlockwise 1k laps of the parameter of the park that is a mixture of gravel and grass surfaces!

Points to note

  • In very wet weather the course could very get muddy in parts of the grass section
  • 11 marshal points evenly spaced out to make sure the competitors are safe

So it is a great course for them to have fun!


Free parking and toilets are situated by the new visitor centre, the issue is that this centre car park does not seem to have a post code and the one issued on their website you end up at Houghton Hall business park.

The only Sat Nav directions I can give for people coming by car is coordinates that you can put in your phone or click on this link 51.901548, -0.509044

For the post run coffee we retired back to the visitor centre that was very welcome on a cold day 🙂

Final Verdict

I would like to thank the run director Nicola and the fellow volunteers with a number of them very good friends from either my club or Wardown parkrun for creating a safe brilliant environment for kids to enjoy running, top work guys!!!

Houghton volunteer shot

So mums and dads I can thoroughly recommend from the bottom of my heart that once your kids have tried junior parkrun they will love it!



Event 65 South Oxhey

On a grey wet Saturday morning at South Oxhey Playing Fields, Watford 44 brave soles were set a challenging but rewarding test on a course that wouldn’t been out of place on a cross country race!

With over 140 acres of beautiful parkland has have had a sporting history stretching back over 100 years with it being a golf course between 1912-53, after that date it became the South Oxhey Playing Fields as it is known today, with everything from rugby, cricket and now football played on it’s land!

It was great to find that back in 1989 local residents fought a successful campaign to stop the local council from developing this site for housing, it is important to keep local green spaces for generations to come, well done South Oxhey!!!!

Also it was great to meet Jacqui Fenton-Collins and her guide Nedret Robertson today, may I say your smile brightened up the dullest of day’s and top running in those difficult conditions!

Me with Jackie


The course is 3 clockwise laps of the parameter of the playing fields that surface is completely run on grass! This is not a flat course with a steady incline up to the far end of the course, the good thing though it is all downhill to the finish of each lap!

South Oxhey course map

Points to note

  • Borderline today but ideally trail shoes should be used on this course in wet conditions for secure footing
  • Mole hills seem a problem so be careful as the subsided ones could trip you up or catch your foot!

So if you are up for a challenge of this course and love cross country style parkruns then South Oxley is the event for you! My time was 37:20 need to hit those hills back home!


There is a free car park at the Pavilion pub Sat Nav WD19 4LT that is situated very close to the start of the parkrun, also available before the start is a disabled toilet!

For a post run coffee it was very welcome to see the resident mobile cafe arrive and far as I am aware there are discounted prices available for park runners, nice one 🙂

Moble Cafe

For locals the playing fields boast 6 adult and 1 junior size football pitch available for the community to use!

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Stuart Rosewell and his team of volunteers for making us all feel extremely welcome on a cold wet day!

I must admit South Oxhey you may be small in numbers but you make up for that with a great community spirt, within 5 minutes of your company I felt I was at home running and that is a rare precious gift, top work everyone!!!!

South Oxhey volunteer shot

So hopefully South Oxhey I will to be back one day,



Extra News

I would like to congratulated today two good friends and Luton, Wardown parkrun stalwarts  Dave Smith who ran his 250th parkrun and Alan Bullimore completing his 100th parkrun, brilliant achievement guys!

Wardown milestone celebrations

I would like to also add that Alan and his good lady Kathy have supported, run with me on a number of my parkrun adventures, with your company always extremely welcome and appreciated!!!

See you all on 16th December!

Event 66 Cassiobury 18-11-17


Event 64 Roding Valley

Today at Roding Valley, Loughton on a grey wet horrible Saturday morning for running I found why I love parkrun tourism so much, making new friends and seeing old ones, running so many varied types of park courses, at times I feel like I am the luckiest man alive!

Run at Roding Valley Recreation Ground is a large open space with varied sports in mind to support the local community that has the River Roding meandering around it’s parameter!

Again it was great to bump into old tourist friends in the shape of Kevin Brown, Andrew James that I first met on my Capital parkrun adventure at Valentines parkrun back in February this year! Joining them was their tourist friends Matthew Scrivin and Peter Loose, great to meet you guys!

Roding Valley tourists

It was also Kevin’s 200th parkrun event today and very soon he will be running his 100th different parkrun venue, top work sir! For the record Kevin is the pirate sporting the fetching West Ham football top 🙂

With Kevin and Andrew


Roding Valley course map

The course is two flat clockwise laps of the parameter of Roding Valley Recreation Ground that surface is about a 50-50% mixture of tarmac paths and grass fields!

Points to note

  • As noted in the run briefing the wooden bridge crossing the river was very slippery in the wet
  • Grass was quite firm today, but I can see it getting quite boggy in places after long periods of rain
  • In the right weather conditions a very fast course!

For the record I decided run in trail shoes because of the wet conditions, it was quite an unusual situation as I decided to run the whole parkrun on grass as I did not know before that half of this course is run on tarmac so would have been hard work in trail shoes, time today was 35.41


There is a free small car park near the start point of the parkrun at Sat Nav IG10 3BS and toilets are available at the recreation ground changing rooms before the start of the event!

At the moment of writing this there is no post run place to have a coffee, but after speaking to the Event Director Paula says the council are looking to upgrade onsite facilities to include a cafe hopefully in the near future!

Final verdict

I would like to thank the Run Director Frances and her team of volunteers for not just making us all feel extremely welcome but for standing out there in terrible weather cheering us all over the finish line, you all deserve medals!!!!!

Roding Valley volunteers

So Roding Valley you are a top friendly parkrun community that shone through the most miserable of day’s and have reinforced why I love parkrun so much!



Event 65 South Oxhey 11-11-2017

Event 63 Rickmansworth

There are parkruns that are a bit special for to me, I absolutely love where water is the main feature to run around, so today Rickmansworth Aquadrome was my idea of heaven!

Based around 41 hectares the Aquadrome has two main lakes Batchworth that is used for water skiing and Bury lake is the home for Bury Lake Young Mariners which is used for canoeing and sailing! The third lake Stocker’s is a wildlife sanctuary for a wide variety of birds!


The history behind the main lakes centres around gravel extraction that stopped in the 1920’s and the lakes filled in by natural springs! One of the best parts of this story is how 2 parkruns events that I have now visited Rickmansworth & Northala Fields, London have been effected by our very own national stadium at Wembley! In Rickmansworth case in relation to gravel extraction to be used in the building of the old Stadium and Northala Fields the building of their parks observation mounds that were make up from the old rubble of the same stadium, brilliant!!!!

Now every parkrun I visit I try but do not always succeed in finding a story to tell about a member of the local parkrun community. Today I was lucky to run alongside Steve Gray, on only his third parkrun he managed to beat his PB by an impressive 2:46, top work sir!

Steve Gray & friends

I would also like to wish him good luck as in a few weeks as he is going to marry his fiancée Helen, the lovely lady wearing the headband in the picture, they were accompanied on the run by their friends Jess (sitting next to Steve) and Nadine! Great to meet you all and have chat after the run!


Bury lake alternative course

We ran Rickmansworth alternative course due to current path resurfacing work on the normal route, it was 3 and a bit very flat anticlockwise laps of Bury Lake that is made up of entirely well maintained tarmac foot paths!

Please note my watch GPS did not kick in before the start of the parkrun, so the start position is wrong on my map by 0.31 of a mile, with an actual finish time of 36:32

For the record below is the actual normal course map route that is a two lapper:

Normal Rickmansworth course


There is free parking at this event Sat Nav WD3 1NF and toilets are available before the start of the parkrun that is always welcome!

For the post run coffee we retired to The Cafe in the Parkvery lovely it was too with a great buzz too the place!

Cafe in the park

Rickmansworth Aquadrome Facilities include

  • Boating, canoeing
  • Children’s play area
  • Fishing day tickets Batchworth Lake and the adjacent River Colne
  • Lakeside walks
  • Birdwatching

Final Verdict

I would like to thank Andy Nice and his team of volunteers for making us feel extremely welcome at Rickmansworth, top work guys!!!!

Rickmansworth Volunteer shot

So if like me you want to run a fast flat beautiful course with water being the delightful backdrop Rickmansworth is a must, you have been told!!!!



Event 64 Roding Valley 04-11-2017

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