Bakewell parkrun

Bakewell parkrun route
Bakewell parkrun route. Out and back, left then right.

I booked to stay in the Peak District, with Bakewell my nearest parkrun. I figured I’d probably do it, it being so, but when I mentioned it to people I got many knowing nods, mmms and oohs. A good one? I asked, rhetorically.

Why, yes! It’s on the Monsal Trail, 8.5 miles of old railway track, once a main line between London and Manchester, serving the industry in the region. Now not only do you have a flat, wide track to walk on, with side paths taking you off into the hills and nature reserves around, but you can run through the old railway tunnels and pretend to be a train.

The course doesn’t go through those tunnels, they’re a couple of kilometres further along, but I think it’s worth the trip. The YHA at Ravenstor is about 5 miles from the start at Hassop station, so I imagined several tourists making the jog down in the morning, or at least being joined by people along the way. But no; although it is a predominantly tourist run, most stay in Bakewell, it seems, or park at Bakewell station and walk up (about a mile).

The run director made a feature of the tourism. “Normally,” she said, “I’d ask if we had any tourists.” (At this point, one over-keen bod was too keen to announce themselves, heard what they wanted to hear and stuck their hand up.) “But here, we ask if we have any locals!” And only a smattering of hands went up.

It’s a very simple route. Out for 2.5km, turn round cones under a bridge, and head back. Stay left, and keep off the trail until the event starts. Simple. It’s slightly up on the way out, so the return is quicker than the first half. I can recommend the journey to and from Ravenstor, though I was accompanied by just as many people on my way back as on my way there: none.

Whet your appetite with photos of the Monsal Trail.

Results from Bakewell parkrun event 90, 12/10/19.

Aachener Weiher parkrun, Cologne

Aachener Weiher parkrun route.
Aachener Weiher parkrun route. 2 laps, starting below the pond, in the middle, heading East.

Alphabetically, this is the first parkrun in the World. One of the volunteers described it as the hilliest 5k in Cologne – they have done great work in cramming a 5k in, up and around the hill in this park, in a pretty flat city. The Weiher of the name, incidentally, is a pond, and running round that bit is at least flat. The rest of the course is not.

View over the pond (Weiher)
View from the SW corner of Aachener Weiher.

The numbers, as with most other German parkruns for now, are relatively small, which means a chance to chat with almost everyone before or after the event. Some even managed to chat during it, which is a great effort. There’s only one hill in the park, but you go up it one way, come back up it from the back, and then find another bit of up before returning to the waterfront part. And then repeat.

View of tower in distance and pond nearby
The view from the meeting point.

It’s a course that never lets you go. The twists and turns mean there is plenty to look at, from the tower (shown in the picture above) to the tree-lined parts, to watching parts of Cologne appear and disappear between the greenery.

View of grass and trees in front of the pond
View from a little way up the hill.

I really enjoyed the run, and the cafe afterwards – very near, to the West, just over the road and between the two numbers 264 on the map at the top – was very hospitable. It doesn’t open till 10, so no need to rush over.

Cologne has good public transport, but the park is only 3km from the central train station. I was staying a little further away, in the North of the city, but there’s green belt of parks and walkways, much of the way round the edge, and I walked that for a total of just over 5km. That gave me a view of parks and the tower, and is a great way to explore a little more of the city.

Results from event 29, Aachener Weiher parkrun.

Neckarufer parkrun, Esslingen

Neckarufer parkrun route
Neckarufer parkrun route. East to start, back past the start/finish line then West, over a covered bridge.

Several of the events in Germany put on an extra parkrun for German Unity Day – their equivalent ‘one extra run’ for the UK’s Christmas day, Canada Day and Sweden’s National Day. Friends joined me in Stuttgart to hop on a train to Oberesslingen (the stop after Esslingen station, 20 mins from Stuttgart Hbf – catch the 7:55 or 8:25) to run it.

Paper Berlin Wall at the start, 'die mauer muss weg' and 'Freedom' written on it
A paper wall at the start.

With plenty of UK tourists, plus locals from other runs that weren’t offering an extra event, it was a festive atmosphere throughout. Several of the event team are from the UK and have been based in Germany for years, so can switch between the two languages with alacrity, helping everyone feel at home. As a tribute to the occasion, we had a paper ‘wall’ set up on the start line, for keen people at the front to break through.

Group of runners posing in front of the paper wall
My club mates (mostly – also Teri, fourth from left, and Mark, on the right).

We were there in plenty of time to look at the route. The start is a tiny downhill, flat with a small rise towards the turn around point, just over 800m away. Out and backs are great for spotting everyone and letting you run not just with those at your pace.

View of people gathering at the start, in front of an 'aching läufer' sign
View from the bridge (not run over, but we walked over it to the cafe on the island).
View of the river, trees on either side and clouds mostly obscuring a blue sky
Looking down the river from the bridge.

After the turnaround, and a gallop with the river on your left, you pass under the bridge shown above, with the start on your right, and head along for a while longer. It isn’t totally straight, though, with a tight turn onto a narrow wooden bridge, and another 180 on the path beyond taking you onto a snaking, if short, downwards section. It’s probably possible to run it very quickly, but the snaky nature made that difficult on a first attempt.

View of the briefing over an apricot-shirted runner's shoulder.
Chris, the event director, switching from German to English in the briefing.

The rest of the route is straightforward, and soon you’re turning – at roughly 3.3km – round a cone to head back to the start. That snaking downhill is now a sapping short uphill section. This parkrun has previously had between 13 and 36 participants, so 104 loaded the course up, but we were fine, with a few people checking their stride or making sure not to swing wide onto the bridge if someone was coming the other way.

Runners around a cone at the final turn
Celebrating the final turn (just over a mile to go from here).

Post run we mobbed the cafe; finding our cards generally didn’t work we jumped on the few people who had enough cash to make sure the cafe’s good start to the day didn’t turn into a lot of poured but unpaid-for drinks. There is another run (Kräherwald) even closer to Stuttgart, and Monrepos is just to the North and a similar time away by train (catch the 7:38 or 8:08 S-Bahn), so you have options in the area. Consider Neckarufer if you fancy running by the river, and testing hip sway on the twists.

View from the riverbank; trees on the opposite bank showing splashes of orange and red
Autumn colours on the river.

Results from Neckarufer parkrun event 27, 3/10/19.

Start a Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑