Slope. Incline. Ramp. Undulation. Rollercoaster. Rewarding. Great views. It doesn’t matter how you dress it up, a hill is still a hill!
And, just as the descriptions vary, so too do people’s interpretations of which parkruns are flat and which are a little more challenging.
So for the unsuspecting parkrun tourists out there, we’ve put together a list of some of the most, um, ‘character building’ parkrun events across the UK that will leave you with your head in the clouds!
Bevendean Down parkrun – Bevendean, Brighton
The first parkrun on our rolling adventure takes us to to Bevendean Down parkrun on the south coast of England. Lesser known than some of its more established parkrun neighbours in and around Brighton, the inaugural event took place in February 2016 and since then this parkrun community has averaged 35 finishers per week.
The course is a hidden gem, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of city life on the northeast outskirts of Brighton. The 5k route takes place on Bevendean Down, a nature reserve of rich bio-diversity, and on top of that you get to take in some spectacular views towards the sea (below).
That all sounds lovely, right? However, there’s a reason this event is included in this list! The course is run entirely on grassy downland, which can be uneven and trail shoes are recommended all-year-round. The course is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.
It’s a two-and-a-bit-lapper of a large field, with an undulating section followed by a “reasonably steep” hill, followed by a gentle descent and undulations to the end of the lap. Just to throw one more spanner in the works – cattle graze in the area from time to time!
The reward for making it around twice and getting your barcode scanned is post-parkrun coffee at The Bevy, which you’ll be pleased to know is a short, downhill walk!
Drumchapel parkrun – Glasgow, Scotland
Next up, it’s Drumchapel parkrun in the Scottish city of Glasgow. This three-lapper takes place in Garscadden Woods East, which is owned by Glasgow City Council and managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, and is located to the north west of the city centre.
The woods offer a secluded and nature-rich parkrun experience, with bluebells prominent in springtime. Clearly that all sounds to idyllic to be true, and the team describe their course as “challenging” – although you are treated to views of the city, and the chance to catch your breath on the descents.
The most famous feature of the course is, rather ominously, simply referred to as “that hill” – the seemingly never-ending long gradual incline.
Drumchapel is known locally as “The Drum” and Run Director Laura Gray admits she often has some explaining to do for unsuspecting tourists:
“When people ask, as they often do, who designed our course, I am forced to confess in a sheepish voice that it was me and another couple of sadists!”
Drumchapel parkrun recently celebrated its second birthday and in that time almost 1,500 different people have experienced the event for themselves. After conquering the hills, it’s off for refreshments/recuperation at the local church Orchard Café, which is run by local volunteers.
Flatts Lane parkrun – Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire
The flattest part of the next parkrun on our list is probably the name! Flatts Lane parkrun is located just outside Middlesbrough in the north east of England.
This two-lap course features hills that offer panoramic views, something which invariably means the inclines are definitely more than “slopes” – however this event has grown steadily since launching in September 2017. Each lap consists of two inclines, so you have the joy of four opportunities to take in the scenery.
The course walks, jogs and runs entirely on trail paths, making it a popular destination for off-road fans. However, it’s probably not one for PB-hunters as so far only one woman has run under 20 minutes, and the sub-17 minute list for men remains empty!
But parkrun is so much more than PBs and records, and the Flatts Lane Woodland Country Park visitor centre by the finish funnel has a post-parkrun cafe! What more could you ask for?
Lanhydrock parkrun – Bodmin, Cornwall
We’re now halfway through our list, so surely it’s all downhill from here? Err, no sorry we’re still climbing! The next event needs little introduction as it has long been touted as a must-run for parkrun tourists and anyone venturing to the south west of England.
Lanhydrock parkrun in Cornwall takes place at Lanhydrock, a National Trust property consisting of late Victorian country house, gardens and wooded estate. The course itself is a single-lapper, and starts from the top of the hill, which is a fitting sign of things to come!
It does however start by traveling downhill, taking in some picturesque views of South Park and the River Fowey.
The middle section, well, we will leave that to your imagination, but you do get the added bonus of finishing with a downhill sprint, fuelled by adrenaline, or maybe just sheer relief!
Having conquered Lanhydrock, you can enjoy the rest of your Saturday exploring the property, whether that be family fun exploring the house and the gardens, or going for a cycle if the 5k alone was not enough to send you home happy. All in all, you will sleep well on Saturday evening!
Wepre parkrun – Flintshire, Wales
When you think of Wales, you think of beautiful rolling green countryside and exploring all nature has to offer, so it is perhaps no surprise to find a Welsh parkrun on our list!
Wepre parkrun is located to the north of Wrexham and west of Chester, and is a scenic route taking place off-road and passing through gorgeous woodland.
It is certainly one to add to the “undulating” category, with more than 500 feet of elevation in total, and it has a little bit of everything squeezed into your 5k. The route is entirely on the paths around the park, travels alongside a river, a waterfall, woods, an old golf course, and a few lumps and bumps to keep you occupied.
Your treat for taking on and overcoming everything Wales has to offer is a cup of something hot or cold at the Old Hall Café located at the Wepre Park Visitor Centre.
Whinlatter Forest parkrun – Lake District, Cumbria
Last and by no means least is the course with the most elevation in the UK – and it is perhaps no surprise to find it nestled high up in the Lake District!
Whinlatter Forest parkrun is located in Braithwaite, just outside the town of Keswick in Cumbria. The course is a point-to-point parkrun through Whinlatter Forest Park, working your way up what can officially be described as “a hill”.
Whinlatter Forest parkrun only launched in January 2018, but numbers have grown steadily, hovering either side of 100 parkrunners, and almost 1,500 different women, men, girls and boys have made it to the top so far!
The event is breathtaking, and not just because of the 600+ feet of elevation gain! The surrounding scenery is dramatic, with views over Derwentwater and the surrounding mountain ranges.
You may find it difficult to resist the temptation to take mid-parkrun photos as your climb your way up the trail – but just remember it will all be worth when that “Congratulations!” results text or email appears in your inbox!
Amongst the parkrun family there are numerous international athletes, Olympians and experienced coaches. Each week we invite one of them to share their top tips and advice on training and improving your running, whether you’re looking to complete the course without stopping, break 45 minutes, go sub-20 for the first time, or just bag that…
East Grinstead parkrun in East Court, West Sussex is a popular destination for tourists in search of the letter E for their parkrun alphabet! Lisa Compton tells us the story behind the event… A group of us from a local running club started to run parkrun at nearby Tilgate every week. We…