Rothay Park parkrun, Ambleside

Route map of Rothay Park parkrun in Ambleside, Cumbria.
Rothay Park parkrun route. Start next to the playground, three laps.

My original plan was to struggle up the hills at Whinlatter Forest, but they have to cancel when there are high winds. Luckily, that meant I could walk to my (temporary) local run at Rothay Park, in the North of Ambleside. It’s very easy to find – Ambleside’s not that big, and the church is a good landmark. There’s plenty of car parkland free parking for a few by the river.

Cut trees beside a wide path and a large tree stands over a trimmed hedge.
The start, which heads towards the camera. On each lap you then run away from the camera past the tree on your right, turning right at the end to go past the playground.

This is a lovely run round the town park and a field next to the football club. Three laps, a little bit of up and down, some mud (but nothing this weekend that needed special shoes), parking and toilets nearby.

Path at the top end of the park with thin metal railings keeping us off the river on the right.
Round the field, alongside the water.

The paths are pretty narrow in places. Room enough for the 92 of us there were, but it does mean there are a couple of stretches where you either can’t or shouldn’t overtake, as people come back the other way. The path to the field next to the football club is also the path back from the field, for instance, and so are busy in both directions. I say “shouldn’t” not to say you must not if there’s space, but because one of the leaders only looked straight at me as he stepped out in front of me to overtake a back marker. I was happy to move aside, but probably shouldn’t have had to. But no biggie.

A bench in the foreground, with green grass and a tarmacked path to the right.
A bench. The finish is towards the back of this section.

It was a windy day, which didn’t affect this course too much, though it did hit us as we turned into the field, which is also the soggiest part, needing a little care. A little frost would toughen this part of the course up, otherwise it’s only going to be muddier in the next few weeks. You wouldn’t feel daft running this course in trail shoes during the winter, and many people did exactly that.

Narrow tarmacced path runs down a small incline, toward a playground in the distance.
A small downhill section down the twisting path.

I’ve taken photos on a sunny day, though Saturday was a little drizzly. It was still perfectly good weather for a run, though, and there are plenty of trees and hills around to break the weather up a little.

A muddy path through gates, with the local football club building on the right.
Through the gates into the field, and back out again after you’ve been round it.

It’s a lovely event in a gorgeous small town, with very friendly and welcoming volunteers. I was running a milestone event, but quietly – all those months conspicuously not getting to the milestone during the pandemic closure meant that I was not really feeling it. A friend had tipped off the run director, but with many other things to think about, he got the name a little wrong at the start, and I only realised he meant me when he said “ah, must have gone to Whinlatter”. Too late by then, but I did say hello at the end and we had a laugh about it. That worked out ideally, really – no fuss made, but it also wasn’t a total surprise so no-one was offended that I hadn’t mentioned it to them. A couple of others also ran milestones and they hadn’t had a shout-out, so I was happily tucked into a sub-group, enjoying a lovely run without distraction.

The town really is set in a lovely location, especially when the sun is out. A few views below.

Results from Rothay Park parkrun, event 29, 29/1/22.

Haverhill parkrun, Suffolk

Haverhill parkrun route. Parking by the bottom-left arrow.

At this time of year, and following rain, this is a lovely but very muddy parkrun. After I’d parked where the event webpage suggested, near the Golden Apples day nursery in Homefield Road (they call it Dizzy Duck’s on the page, presumably they’ve changed name), I peeked into the field and immediately changed into trail shoes.

A caution runners sign in the field, with a muddy puddle off to one side.
Muddy field

The route is run entirely round fields, so although it’s flat, it’ll only be quick when they’re firm underfoot. This was not that day, with particularly wet areas behind the football goals and at the entrance. With footwear on that could handle it, it was fun slogging round the 3 laps. By the end we were all experts on the wet and dry-est areas.

A muddy field after the runners have been by, with footsteps covering a wide lateral area as people look for relatively untrod ground.
Footsteps in the mud after the event.

Any first-timers at the course received a lovely welcome from the run director, who talked us through the route and gleefully sympathised at the mud in prospect. Anyone who’d parked in Homefield Road had already walked across the fields, and almost certainly stepped in a hole a little deeper than they’d expected, and so was prepared for wet feet. This isn’t the largest event, though, and I got a definite sense that locals from the surrounding houses contributed plenty of participants, which made for a great community feeling that I was welcomed into.

Muddy field and a puddle next to the football pitch. Plenty of green grass in among the slightly churned up mud.
Puddles by the football pitch.

As you can see from the above, there’s a puddle by the football pitch, right where you’d be running on a hard-surface day, to run the shortest route. The advice to avoid going too close to the pitches was spot on, but as you can see, that didn’t mean we weren’t muddy. All the volunteers were cheery and encouraging, despite standing in the rain on a cool day, which really helped. For me, particularly on lap 2, when the thought of another lap picking through the boggy bits was not motivating. A well done from a nice face or three was, though.

A hedge marks the edge of the field, with a yellow cone marking the route, and a pothole to avoid.
Cone marks the spot.

The whole event lifted my, and I’m sure pretty much everyone involved’s, spirits on a wet day when thoughts might otherwise have been on how early into the year it was, and how much more of this weather there might be to come. Instead we could hang out with kindred spirits, with veterans of hundreds of parkruns finishing along with those completing their first. Don’t be put off by the thought of slogging round fields multiple times, this is a great community event with a warm welcome.

Results from Haverhill parkrun event 128, 8/1/22 – 45 finishers.

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