Skip to main content

Dunstable Downs parkrun

There is, surprisingly, only one single "D" event in the East of England, and so today's decision to attend Dunstable Downs parkrun was a relatively straightforward one.

The area

Dunstable Downs is located outside Dunstable, at the northern tip of the Chiltern Hills. Dunstable is situated at the intersection of Watling Street and the Icknield Way - some of the oldest roads in Great Britain.

The Downs forms part of the same escarpment I ran at both Wendover Woods and Tring parkruns. The area is mainly farmland, with a number of smaller woods spread amongst the open meadows.

The course

Given the possibilities for a very lumpy course in the area, the event team at Dunstable Downs parkrun have been extraordinarily generous, and kept the lumps to a relatively mere uneven surface!

The view along the escarpment with the visitor centre on the horizon

The course is run entirely on grass and trail. The route initially traces the outline of the field next to the visitor centre before following the ridgeline to two fields which can sometimes contain sheep, but are otherwise pleasant meadows. Runners follow the perimeter of both fields before retracing their steps back to the finish funnel, situated next to the start line near the visitor centre.

Ample paid parking is available at the several car parks near to the start area, and toilets are available near the visitor centre before the event, while the visitor centre houses a cafe which is available after the event.

The run

It was a foggy start to the morning, and while it did clear somewhat by the start, I had actually been a little worried that it might be a challenge to run today's course if I couldn't see where I was going. Fortunately, it was only a low-lying fog, and the elevation of the downs meant that visibility along the route wasn't a problem by the time we were underway.

Fog lying over the low land areas near the downs

The run itself was a pleasant one, and I used the scenery as an excuse to ease off my normal effort, and took the opportunity to just absorb the setting as I ran around.

Ian running towards the finish funnel

Thank you to the team for a very pleasant run today, and a special mention to the marshal near the path back into the main site - your encouragement was palpable!

After the run

Following the run, I took the opportunity to explore the site.

Five Knolls barrows mounds

To the north-east of the visitor centre lies the Five Knolls barrows mounds - a series of burial mounds over 4000 years in age.

A plaque marking the Five Knolls barrows mounds

Following the signposted trail around the barrows and back towards the visitor centre allows you to get a real sense of the beauty of the area up close.

The signposted grass trail around the downs

Paragliding centre

For those braver than I, the London Paragliding Centre is located at the foot of the downs, and gliders were regularly being towed skywards throughout the run and through the rest of the time I was in the area.

Ian in front of a number if parked gliders

Whipsnade Tree Cathedral

A short walk along the Icknield Way lies the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral - a collection of trees, bushes, and other greenery arranged in the form of a cathedral.

A view from the inside of the tree cathedral

The tree cathedral had a strong element of seclusion to it - a sharp contrast to the hive of activity I found at the visitor centre upon my return.

People relaxing, and flying kites near the visitor centre

Links: Results | Strava


Popular posts from this blog

Markshall Estate parkrun

Having spent a number of weeks focussed on events in the north of the East of England, I decided that this week I would pay some attention to the south of the region and visit Markshall Estate parkrun while still in the best time of the year to visit an arboretum. The area The Markshall Estate (interchangably the "Marks Hall" Estate) is the remains of a former country estate located in Coggeshall, between Colchester and Braintree. The hall itself was demolished in 1950, leaving its grounds to be converted into an arboretum, featuring trees from around the world. Coggeshall has been a settled area since at least the Saxon area, and was later served by Stane Street; a Roman road stretching from modern day Colchester to near St Albans. The course The route follows just under two laps of the arboretum, starting at the top of a hill, and finishing at the bottom, meaning this is a net down-hill course. The course is run on a mixture of tarmac, concrete, gravel, trail an

Mildenhall Hub parkrun

This week I decided to make some more progress on the Fibonacci Sequence challenge by attending event number 5 of the new Mildenhall Hub parkrun! The area Mildenhall is a small market town located between Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds. The modern town's population is heavily influenced by the two airforce bases located on the outskirts of the town, with up to a third of the town's residents being born in USA! The town is also where the Mildenhall Treasure was discovered - a collection of Roman silverwar considered to be perhaps the most important and valuable Roman treasure find in Britain. Owing to its importance and value, the treasure is now on permanent display at the British Museum. To the west of the town lies Mildenhall Hub, a newly built community centre, and host of this week's parkrun event! The course One lap of the course follows an initial out-and-back section, followed a lap of the adjoining meadow, with runners following the route two and a hal

Ally Pally parkrun

Now that I have completed the UK Alphabet, my focus has turned towards the East of England region. As there are so many events to choose from, I'm going to start by working through events in alphabetical order again, with an emphasis on working east to west, which for me, effectively orders events furthest to nearest. During my initial exploration of the challenge, I did make a mistake however, which I only realised after running this event - I didn't realise that Aldenham parkrun was in the region, and so I started this phase of parkrunning by running Ally Pally parkrun instead! The area Ally Pally, or Alexandra Palace, is a purpose built community centre in Haringey, North London. Unlike other palaces in the UK, Ally Pally has no royal connection, and instead has been entirely community oriented since its conception. The palace houses a theatre, concert hall, a convention centre, an ice rink, and has facilitated BBC broadcasts an