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Castle Park parkrun

I had intended for this week's parkrunning to be at Great Dunnmow, but an ill-fated wrong turn onto the M11 and the resulting 30 minute diversion would have meant missing the start (assuming I could even park), and so I diverted at the last minute to Castle Park parkrun in Bishops Stortford, arriving at the start line at 08:57 - the closest I have ever been to missing the start!

The area

Bishop's Stortford, or just Stortford to locals, is located on the same A120 as Great Dunmomw, Great Notley, Markshall Estate, Colchester Castle and Highwoods parkruns, which roughly traces the route of the Roman road; Stanes Road from St Albans. The town is currently rated the best place to live in the UK.

Castle Park is the site of Waytemore Castle, which was a motte and bailey castle built during the reign of William the Conqueror (though there is speculation the site is much older), though it is now ruined. The park also shares a number of similarities with Clare Castle parkrun, where a railway was built next to the ruined castle.

Waytemore Castle mound at Castle Park

The course

The course is lollipop shaped, starting on the grass near the motte, before following the adjacent railway line north to the boundary of the park, and around a number of football pitches, before following the River Stort back towards the start. Before returning to the start/finish area, runners follow a second lap of the fields. The route is mostly on grass and gravel, with some short sections on tarmac paths, and so trail shoes are recommended in wetter weather.

Toilets are available in the nearby shopping centre, while paid parking is available at Link Road Car Park, close to the start. The park is located in the town centre, and so a range of eateries are close by for refreshments.

The run

Having arrived with no time to spare, I didn't have the usual time to familiarise myself with the area, and so today's run was largely a matter of following people ahead of me until I reached the finish - I hadn't even had chance to look at the course prior to the event!

Had I more time, I would definitely have preferred to swap into trail shoes given the muddy conditions, although I did think to bring a waterproof jacket with me, which proved useful as I wandered around the fields and nature reserve, enjoying the sights!

Nature reserve area in Castle Park

Thanks to all of the volunteers for a great event! While I hadn't planned to visit this week, it was definitely a very pleasant event!

After the run

As today's parkrun took place in Castle Park, I begun my explorations with the castle itself. The ruins lie atop the motte, which is still in tact, and very clearly visible from the park.

Bridge to the start/finish area from the motte

Only earthworks and foundations of the castle remain, though the foundations of the rectangular tower are still very evident.

Foundations of rectangular tower

The skyline of Stortford is dominated by the All Saints' Church, which is located at the top of one of the hills which form the town.

16th century timber framed building in foreground (Coopers), and All Saints' Church in the background

The church building itself is somewhat modern, having replaced an older church on the same site in the 1930s.

All Saints' Church

The town centre includes many listed buildings from different eras, making for interesting explorations!

Listed buildings in Bishops Stortford

Links: Results | Strava

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