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Brandon Country Park parkrun

This week I was planning to run another "B" event to get started on my East of England alphabet after realising that there was a possible "A" I could have run last week. There were a number of contenders to consider, however, when I realised that Brandon Country Park is set in a forest which makes the previous forests I've run in look small, there wasn't much more thought needed!

The area

Brandon Country Park is situated in Thetford Forest, near the towns of Brandon, and Thetford. Brandon has been populated for many centuries, with the local Grimes Graves excavation providing evidence of mining activity dating back to at least 2300 BC.

The forest which now makes up the country park was planted in the early 1900s, when the flint industry slowed down as the site was previously used for flint extraction during the Napoleonic wars. The country park also houses Brandon House - the former residence of the Bloom family who used to own the land, now used as a nursing home.

Brandon House behind an ornamental pond

The course

Runners follow an almost two-lapped route through the northern tip of the forest, finishing on the lawn next to Brandon House. The route is all on forest trails, with one sandy section, and each lap includes a hill that I wasn't aware of prior to encountering it! Fortunately the hill is small compared to other events whose hills are more widely discussed!

Ample paid parking is available on site, and toilets and a cafe are also located at the start area. As the route doesn't quite complete two whole laps, runners congregate near the first car park for the run briefing etc. The finish funnel is only a few hundred metres from the car park.

The run

The run itself was very refreshing. As I had experienced at Salcey Forest previously, running amongst the trees allowed me to forget about the stresses and strains of "normal" life, and fully immerse myself in, enjoy, and simply absorb my surroundings.

Thanks to all of the team today for a really enjoyable and relaxing run, especially the very smiley barcode scanner, who complained that I looked too fresh to have run 5 km as she scanned my barcode!

After the run

After the run had finished, I took the opportunity to explore the area in more detail. Located near to the lawn lies a mausoleum where the Bliss family were laid to rest before being moved to the near-by cemetery.

The mausoleum at Brandon Country Park

A number of trails are also marked out throughout the forest, each with their own sights.

Signpost detailing the posted trails within the country park

I opted to follow the orange trail (also referred to as the Firecrest trail), which took in all of the major man-made structures, as well as the different landscapes along the way.

A fern-heavy opening amongst a conifer forest backdrop

Towards the south-west of the park, an area has been specifically designated as an area for heathland to be created, or rather reverted back to, as the land was largely heathland prior to the forest's planting. Today, a vast expanse of heather can be found in this area.

Heather in the area designated for heathland

Amongst the many trees present in the forest, a number of them stand out. In particular, to one side of the lawn near the house, a Giant Redwood can be found.

The Giant Redwood tree at Brandon House

While not yet as grandious as its 3000 year-old cousins in America, the tree does help to express both the scale and vastness of the forest, as well as its serenity.

The branches looking to into the Giant Redwood

Links: Results | Strava

References: Forestry England

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