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

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

York parkrun

After the exciting return of parkrun last week, I was super keen to complete my outstanding alphabet challenge without as many hiccups as possible, which meant ticking off the rarer letters while I still had the possibility to divert to other events as possible. Yeovil Montecute parkrun hadn't returned since the break, leaving York as the only option for a "Y", and so while I still had some contingencies available in the forms of Wetherby and Potternewton parkruns. While not a big factor in deciding this week's destination, this was to be York's first event back, as it wasn't able to take place last week due to horse racing taking place. The area York parkrun takes place in the Knavesmire, in the south of York. The city of York was founded in 71AD, and then known as Eboracum, was the capital of Britannia Inferior - one of the Roman provinces. As with any city of this age, its history is vast, and the city has played many imp

Alton Water parkrun

While I have been looking forwards to attending Alton Water parkrun for a while (it shared its inaugural run with Bury Field, which I attended), the fact that attending this week also gives me some more progress towards the Fibonacci sequence by ticking off a 13th event was enough to tip the scales in its favour this week. The area Alton Water is a reservoir, built to provide drinking water to the Ipswich area following water shortages in the 1960s by building a dam at the eastern end of the lowland, and allowing water levels to rise over the course of the next 10 years. The area which was claimed by the reservoir, as well as today's surroundings are primarily farmland, punctuated by the occasional village. The course The two-lap trail course is run primarily on grass, with some gravel and dirt paths for good measure. The course is situated to the south of the reservoir, and offers views of the water, woodlands, and farmland, while cattle, geese and waterfowl are commo