Hillsborough Forest parkrun, NI

Hillsborough Forest parkrun route. 2 laps clockwise, from the path in the woods, bottom left of the route above.

A new event, this started when parkrun returned in Northern Ireland, on 26th June 2021. It partly fills the gap between Craigavon and Castlewellan and, more importantly, is in a gorgeous location.

It doesn’t even need to use all of the available ground, so there’s more park to explore before or after if you want to. The event is two B shaped loops, clockwise in the NE section, beside the lake.

The website suggests parking in town (and that’s where the toilets are), but this was a rainy day and I parked in the Forest Park car park – at the end of Park Street on the left side of the map. This clearly gets busy, as they have marshals there once the morning gets going, but today it was pretty quiet, for obvious reasons. It was dryish as we walked to the start, and rained during the event. This was the perfect run for that, being mostly under tree cover, but that didn’t stop us all getting wet on the way back to the car park.

The start and finish. The start is actually on a path, not as “middle of the woods” as the picture makes it look.
View from the gathering point, right by the finish.
The first turn.

It’s not especially hilly, though it felt it. Whenever you turn away from the lake you’re going uphill, which makes for two obvious hills on the map. The one in the middle of the route is the toughest, especially the second time around. It’s also gravelly underfoot – nothing too loose, but you might prefer trainers with some cushioning to minimal tread.

View of the finish.
Heading up the first incline (this lot are cooling down, I wasn’t actually able to keep up with these youngsters).
Top of the course, which you cover in both directions.
It is a bit of a hill, honest. But mostly just pretty.

It’s a gorgeous course, and a great park to just mooch around afterwards – trees, lake, fort overlooking it all. People gathered happily under tree cover at the finish before making their way back to wherever they’d come from, and I strolled back round the course, mostly dry despite the rain, taking pictures.

Results from Hillsborough Forest parkrun event #9, 21/8/21 (122 finishers).

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