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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.

Iron bridge and pond at Markshall Estate

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 and grass, and undulates throughout.

Toilets and refreshments are available at the visitor centre next to the car park.

The run

Today's run was intended to be just like any other run, but after a couple of stuffy weeks, followed by the weather cooling slightly to only mid-20s, today was great conditions for a quick effort, and so that's what I did! After the first timers welcome near the Information Centre, runners walk to the start line, approximate 8 minutes away.

Although the course undulates throughout, it felt like there was only one main climb - the same climb we walked up to the start, and one minor lump to be aware of as you cross the iron bridge, which can feel quite steap when running at pace!

While the course is net down-hill, that is also compounded by the fact the kilometer immediately before the finish is all down-hill, making for a great opportunity for a sprint finish!

Thank you to all of the awesome volunteers for helping with today's event; I wouldn't necessarily have considered this to be a PB course, but your cheering definitely helped!

After the run

After the event, I continued to enjoy the trees, exploring the various trails in the area.

Woodland trail surrounding Markshall Estate Arboretum

As part of the restoration work that has happened since the estate transferred to the stewardship of its current charity owners, a number of historic landmarks and artifacts have been marked with information boards. The oak which marked the former servants gate is one such landmark, and the remains of the gate can still be seen embedded in the tree.

Oak tree marking the site of the former servants gate

The coach house is one of the few remaining original buildings after the main hall was demolished, and is used both as the estate management office, but also to host weddings.

Coash House at Markshall Estate

To the east of the coach house, and beyond the parkrun course, is an avenue of trees which traces the likely original main entrance path to the estate.

Avenue of trees leading to Markshall Estate

The arboretum borders Earls Colne airfield, which is an active grass airstrip, having previously served as an RAF airbase. While I didn't visit, it was clear that the airfield was in active use given the number of aircraft in the area!

Links: Run report | Results | Strava

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