Another week, another parkrun. I’m on an annual pilgrimage to Grasmere with my running club (NOTFAST RC, based in Newark-on-Trent), and some of us decided that we’d head to Whinlatter Forest for what promised to be a challenging route with stunning scenery, and, better still, we’d get a W for our Alphabeteer Challenge!
The day dawned dry and reasonably bright. We made our way to the forest, admiring the lakes and mountains as we drove - will we ever tire of the views in this amazing region? Upon arrival we were greeted by a few other parkrun tourists, and we shared their apprehension about what is rumoured to be one of the most difficult courses in the country. Ah well, when in Rome and all that!
All told, 86 participants congregated at the start line, 49 of whom were tackling the course for the first time. Of the 49, three were doing their very first parkrun... give them a medal, for this is definitely not one for the faint of heart! During the run brief, we radioed Rachel, one of the on-course marshals, to treat her to a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday... and then we were off!
I have to say that Whinlatter is the most breathtaking parkrun I will ever do, and I mean that in every possible sense of the word. There is almost no flat at all - as soon as you’re up, you’re back down again. It’s a fantastic technical course, though, if that’s your thing; I have to say that my thing today was getting around without the need for medical attention! I did, however, manage to make up some good ground on the long downhill section, which we did on both loops.
While ‘enjoying the scenery’ (aka walking) back up through the woodland for the second loop, I was completely alone and was enjoying the quiet, looking up into the trees in the hope of seeing a red squirrel. The silence was suddenly broken by the call of a cuckoo - trivial to some, but I’ve never heard one before, so that was a nice little bonus! It definitely made up for the lack of the elusive squirrel.
The views out on the course were nothing short of amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever find another parkrun as pretty as this, but feel free to recommend one if you disagree I must have added a good two minutes onto my time with all the photo stops. It was simply too good an opportunity to miss, and the visibility was very good today.
I would highly recommend that anyone within a reasonable drive should visit Whinlatter parkrun. It’s definitely not easy, but just accept the fact that you’re going to be a bit slower than usual and go and enjoy the finest surroundings that Britain has to offer. I promise you won’t be disappointed, and the sense of achievement at the end was, for me, unrivalled in parkrun terms.