If you look at most parkrunners tourist maps, it will usually have a cluster around their home location, unless they are an uber tourist travelling the country. For me that isn’t quite the case. Within a 75 mile radius of my home are hundreds of parkruns, I have done two! However, in a pocket of West Yorkshire, my spread is much more as I branch out from my in-laws. It was as part of this expansion that today I found myself at Nostell parkrun.

We had stopped off on our way back from a week in Northumberland although unfortunately this year I hadn’t managed a trip to The Pastures parkrun. I had a look at the 5k parkrun app to see what my NENDY was at the in-laws. I’ve done most of the closer by events but there was a cluster all about 15 miles away as the crow flies. The problem here being that even these shorter distances can take around half an hour to get to. I had a review of the options and in the end settled on Nostell parkrun. In part this was due to a “gap” on my running challenges map, but also it would help tick off “N” on the alphabet challenge.

With decision made, Saturday morning I got up and headed off. Google maps had a couple of options to get there but it seemed a bit egregious to drive right past Wakefield Thornes parkrun just to get to Nostell so I took the cross country route (although I did come back past Thornes park on the way home).

Parking at Nostell Priory is plentiful and reading the official page, you can get free parking for the duration of the event as long as you display a spare barcode. As it is, I’m a National Trust member so used my membership (as my late choice meant I didn’t have a spare barcode with me anyway). The National Trust hosts multiple parkruns across the country and this was my second of 2023 after my trip to Penrhyn parkrun earlier in the year and it will probably be a new challenge for me to knock as many of these as possible.

From the car park it’s about a 500m walk to where the briefings take place so make sure to allow yourself an extra 5mins or so if visiting. I headed for the first timers briefing but with visitors from Scotland, South London and Sydney, I was almost local. One visitor was taking in her 200th venue which is a few more than me! The main briefing was well done by the RD although not sure how it would have gone if your voice wasn’t as strong as his. Then it was a couple of hundred metres back to the car park for the start line.

Nostell Priory – Spot the Finish Flag in front of the house.

From the start you head up the hill a little and in front of the house itself, before then heading back downhill the other side of the central field. With my current fitness levels not being quite where I want them, I did start back a bit but, as was the case at Alice Holt parkrun a couple of weeks back, this did mean I was picking through the field a bit. After 800m the course flattens out for a short loop round a copse. During the winter this may get a little muddy but in the middle of summer, the woodchip flooring was nice an bouncy under foot. It was here that my watch buzzed for 1km. It was a little slower than I expected based on how I felt I was running but with the tree cover, I wasn’t surprised that I was possibly measuring short. The good news here was I wasn’t over doing it.

From here you then climb for around 500m up to the Obelisk where there is a turnaround point. You climb around 10m on the hill which starts to say away at your energy, before coming straight back on to yourself.

It is then time to head straight back up towards the Priory itself again. The downhill for the first stretch of the run now becomes an uphill. Like the trip to the obelisk, the uphill is about half a km but this time you gain almost double the amount of height in the same distance.

A quick loop back on yourselves and then you repeat the whole thing for a second time. I had been worried that the narrow path to the obelisk could become a bit crowded as the lead runners caught up on the tailwalkers and you already had people going both up and down. I was a little further back but it actually seemed OK after all. The final stretch takes you back up the larger hill. Two weeks ago at Alice Holt I was disappointed in myself that the last hill led me to walk a short stint so today I was determined to see it all the way through which I did, getting to the top and finishing for 24:18. I still have a way to go to get back to full fitness but it was another good opportunity to get some miles in to my legs.

Overall I enjoyed my visited to Nostell parkrun. It was a tough course but was a lovely location in which to run. It was good to tick off “N” on the alphabet challenge and another National Trust venue under my belt.

By Mike

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