Muncaster Castle joins parkrun community – cumbriacrack.com
Located in the Western Lake District overlooking the Esk Valley, Muncaster Castle has been home to the Pennington family for nearly 800 years.
The castle is a magnificent Grade I listed building set in around 70 acres of woodland, and with parts of the building dating back to the Middle Ages, it is no surprise to discover that it is haunted.
On Saturday morning, the castle opened its doors to the parkrun community for the first time.
Most parkruns choose to keep the start date a closely guarded secret, but Muncaster chose to reveal the start date in advance. This was done to get the information to as many people as possible in a sparsely populated area.
The castle is well signposted with parking conveniently located just opposite the main entrance. The nearest train station is Ravenglass which is a 1 mile (mostly uphill) walk from the start line, at which point think about your warm-up!
There is talk of the possibility of running a shuttle bus to and from the train station, but this depends on whether there is enough demand for this service. If you are lucky enough to live locally, please consider walking, cycling or using public transport to get to the castle, car sharing is another option.
At 8.45am, Run Director Dave Allery gave our first ever run briefing to all 131 of us as we excitedly walked down the start line waiting to discover the wonders of this new parkrun. For 35 participants, this was their first parkrun, and what an amazing environment to be baptized into the parkrun family.
The route starts and ends just inside the castle gate. After 3-2-1, we set off to swoop down the trail between towering fir trees and past the sprawling rhododendrons and azaleas for which the castle is famous.
Then turn right off the drive to take you onto an undulating gravel track with woodland on either side before the castle comes into view on your left. As you walk around the castle, the Esk Valley reveals itself with Scafell dominating the skyline (a sight so stunning that I’ve passed more than one runner stopping to take a photo).
Next, go past the Hawk and Owl Center and back up the drive to complete the first lap of the three. Underfoot is a mix of terrain, switching from tarmac to gravel track and back again. Dogs are allowed on a short walk, and the course is suitable for strollers.
The parkrun is open to all ages and abilities, and although it is not a race, John Hennigan and Karen Smith were the first gentlemen and women to cross the finish line, setting first course records of 16.32 and 20.16 respectively, with an age classification record of 84.82 per cent. He was hired by Andy McCoy.
It was nice to see this new parkrun being well supported by runners and walkers from the surrounding parks and running clubs.
Eileen Jones, who has written two books about parkruns (and is rather excited after having completed an astonishing 354 parkruns) donated one of her titles to be given away as a spot prize at the end.
I’m sure you’ll join me in expressing my sincere thanks to the core team and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make this new project happen: Anne Whalen, Ava Grossman, Ciara Hayden, Daniel Wilson, Dave Allery, Dave Findlay, David Kenwright, Deborah Findlay, Euan Frost Pennington , Joan Beardsley, Lorraine Kenwright, Stuart John Wallace, Tim Miles, Tracey Smalley and Zoe Allery
Special thanks to our course photographers today Carlos Reyna and Mike Andrew.
Muncaster Castle parkrun is organized entirely by volunteers, if you would like to become part of this exceptionally friendly and welcoming team please email (email protected).
There were seven unknown finishers. Please register at parkrun.org.uk and print your unique barcode, you will need to bring this with you to each event.
There is a discounted group rate for access to the grounds for all park patrons, available immediately after the park run each Saturday morning. Please ask at the Gateway Café located at the beginning.
This is the only parkrun in Cumbria to be held on the castle grounds, bringing the total number of parkruns in the county to 16. Today was my 124th parkrun and my first time taking part in the inaugural race. What a privilege to be part of a small piece of parkrun history.
Many thanks to everyone who has been instrumental in bringing this park to life and of course thanks to the park hosts, the Frost-Pennington family for opening up their private land so that park goers from near and far can enjoy everything Muncaster Castle Parkrun has to offer.