The Lake District is famous throughout the world for its breathtaking scenery and the endless opportunities for walking, climbing, watersports and mountains. It’s also home to Fell Foot parkrun!
Laura McGuigan, Volunteer Coordinator at Fell Foot parkrun tells us more…
Apart from the venue, I love the sheer range of people we see week in week out, whether they be regulars or visitors.
We see people from all walks of life and all ages, families and individuals, nervous joggers and ‘couch to 5k graduates’ to international athletes and ultra-marathoners. Somehow, all of these disparate people come together every week in a shared environment of mutual support.
Through that environment, it’s wonderful to see how people grow and improve; the most obvious example of this is probably watching some of our younger runners gleefully shake off their responsible adults on their 11th birthday and proceed over the weeks to the front of the pack.
Fell Foot parkrun takes place in Fell Foot Park, Newby Bridge, Windermere and is a beautiful, friendly route with great views.
Our regular course, in a line, is a ‘Cumbrian flat lap and three quarters’ mostly on grass, including two circuits of a large hay meadow (often with complementary livestock!) and a lakeside path alongside the southern tip of Windermere.
There’s a couple of bumps along the way but they’re nowhere near high or steep enough to qualify as hills in the Lake District!
Being based in the Lake District, we receive many tourists; during the summer, visitors often make up more than half of the total attendance. Everybody receives a warm welcome and, if the feedback on our Facebook page is an accurate guide, the overwhelming majority thoroughly enjoy themselves.
In terms of a testimonial, we can’t do better than a recent piece of Facebook feedback – “I wanted somewhere iconic for my 200th parkrun and wasn’t disappointed”.
During the winter months, when the grass gets too wet to run on regularly, we switch to a four-lap route using the limited paths in the park.
This is a little more challenging in profile (including four full ascents of cafe hill) but has the added advantage insofar as you get to pass and high-five your friends repeatedly on the ‘up and down’ section. We like to refer to this as our ‘fun’ course!
By far the most iconic landmark on our route is Windermere itself. England’s largest lake is 10.5 miles long and our route allows you to look the entire length to the mountains beyond (four times if we’re on the fun course!). It’s also great for a post-parkrun swim right beside the finish.
You will by now have gathered that we’re all about the people coming to Fell Foot (we regularly have more tourists than locals) and we want to make sure we can include everybody to the greatest possible extent. One unique piece of equipment we have to support this is a bespoke pinboard which enables us to sort our finish tokens as the run is in progress.
We can tell, at a glance and within five minutes of the final finisher arriving, exactly how many finishers we’ve had, whether any tokens have gone walkabout and have them back on the strings ready for next week.
This bit of kit, lovingly manufactured in the garage of one of our results processors, allows us to pack up and reach the café in double quick time. It’s also a great conversation piece for our visitors.
After parkrun we like chatting with our visitors at the finish beside the lake or afterwards in the Boathouse Café. The Boathouse is on-site at Fell Foot and located about halfway around the course, just before the only bit of tarmac on the route which also presents the biggest climb, and known as ‘cafe hill, or Jessica Ennis-Hill’ on Olympic-themed parkrun days!
The café opens shortly after we shout ‘Go’ and is a warm and welcoming place with both an outdoor patio and, during the colder months, a real fire. The sausage sandwiches come highly recommended.
During the winter months, the risk of flooding beside the lake is significant so the Boathouse has to close. We then adjourn instead to Café Ambio, about a mile away adjacent to the Lakeland Motor Museum – another popular visitor attraction and well worth a look if you’re in the area.
Fell Foot parkrun has created a community where there wasn’t one. Even our locals & core team travel 10, 20 or even 30 miles each week to get to Fell Foot parkrun, that’s how special it is!
We regularly welcome young DofE volunteers from local secondary schools & are ‘taken over’ once a year by the young people of the local boarding school who fill all the volunteer spots, including guest Run Director.
At the younger end, 9-year-old Will Brayshaw has been coming with his Mum, Dad and younger brother, Ned, for about three years. Will has just completed his 100th parkrun and Ned bagged his 50th a few weeks ago. They can regularly be seen sorting our finish tokens too!
At the other end of the spectrum John Nettleton, at the age of 89, continues to inspire us all with his seemingly boundless energy and encouragement. He not only remains a strong runner but is also one of our most committed volunteers.
And regular runner, volunteer and all round good guy, Bob Wells, has been crowned UK Vet 70 marathon record holder- catch him if you can!!
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