How often can you say you’ve done a run/race around a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Well, starting today, every Saturday morning in fact. Located in a river valley just a few miles from Ripon, Fountains Abbey was my second inaugural parkrun on National Trust property in as many weeks. I don’t know what the record attendance is for inaugurals but this must be up there with a turnout of 375 – mostly people from all over Yorkshire but I did spot a few North East parkrun regulars.
The slightly undulating two lap course is run entirely on narrow tarmac paths around the beautiful Studley Royal Park, starting and finishing at the ruins of the Abbey. Each lap is slightly different to make it more interesting; you go through woods, a stunning garden with a tiny wooden footbridge over a pond and along the banks of the river Skell. It’s designed so the faster runners never lap the ones at the back. If they get a 300 plus turnout every week, it isn’t one for a fast time unless you start at the front and can keep your eyes off the jaw dropping scenery. I did get held up for a bit but still managed to finish under twenty minutes. There’s a great café serving breakfast and cakes at the visitor’s centre just a short walk from the start.
Even if you’re not a diehard parkrun tourist, I would definitely urge you to give this one a go. It really is worth getting up at silly o’ clock to get to. With over 200 parkruns in the country, I’m sure there are quite a few that can vie for the title of most beautiful or picturesque but this one surely has to be in the top five.