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Rendlesham Forest parkrun

This week saw me visiting Rendlesham Forest parkrun in Suffolk for a relatively easy run before running the London 10k on Monday.

The area

Rendlesham Forest is located on the east coast, east of Ipswich. The forest as it is today is what remains after a large swathe of the forest was cleared to allow for the construction of an airfield (RAF Woodbridge) in 1943.

The forest is where the "Rendlesham Forest Incident" took place (the UK's version of the Roswell UFO incident), where Unidentified Flying Objects were reported to have been spotted in 1980.

Trees looking vivid in the morning sun

The course

The event takes place within the forest itself, and starts close to the main visitor car park. The route follows two overlapping laps around the forest's trails - the first lap taking runners south of the start area, before a longer loop taking runners on a longer loop to the north of the start. The route is all on trail, dirt, or sometimes sand paths, and there are plenty of roots along the course, and undulates subtly throughout, so this is definitely not a PB course!

A typical path through the forest

A number of car parks are available near the start, including several free car parks approximately a mile from the start, while several paid car parks are available closer to the start, including the main visitor centre. Toilets are available near the start at the main visitor centre car park.

The run

It was a very humid start to the day, with mist hanging in the air for most of my journey to the forest, but by 9am, the sun was shining brightly. As I was running the London 10k on Monday, my plan for the day was for a relatively easy run, and to enjoy the scenery - Rendlesham Forest wasn't going to let me down on that front!

Starting on one of the main fire roads through the forest, you quickly veer off onto forest paths, and I found myself quickly losing my sense of direction. I was playing "follow the leader" for a good portion of the run - hoping they didn't get lost, and being reassured by each marker arrow on the few un-marshalled corners.

One thing I hadn't anticipated was just how soft the ground was in places. With the surface feeling like sand in several sections, I was constantly scouting for the more densely packed surfaces, at the same time as avoiding roots, and keeping the next runner in sights - plenty to keep the mind busy!

Ian running

Thank you to all of the volunteers who helped make this run so enjoyable!

After the run

Following the run, I took the opportunity to explore the forest more closely. Owing to the interest in the forest's relationship with the extraterrestrial, Forstry England, the owners of the forest, have created a walking trail called the UFO trail, and I decided I couldn't miss the opportunity to explore. Starting at the main visitor centre car park, the trail first leads through the woods towards RAF Woodbridge (where the reports of UFOs were first reported from), although the airfield itself is off limits, being an active military base and all!

RAF Woodbridge airfield

The next major milestone is an opening from where you can see the Orfordness Lighthouse on clear nights, which is the likely source of the lights attributed to the UFO sightings, although it was too light to see the lighthouse at the time of my visit!

Opening from which Orfordness Lighthouse can be seen

Slightly off the main trail lies the next milestone - a UFO!

UFO sculpture

The sculture marks the location of the actual sighting before theories about the Orfordness Lighthouse emerged.

Ian with the UFO sculpture

After reaching the end of the trail, I also wandered around the nearby woods and discovered that the Tangham Wood area houses a number of wooden sculptures which were interesting to hunt down!

Sculpture of a rabbit

Links: Results | Strava

References: The Rendlesham Forest Incident | Wikipedia

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