By Luke Woodend
Having spent my formative years in Keswick I was pleased to learn earlier this year that the town would be getting its very own parkrun. Now a weekend visit back home to see the folks can incorporate a swift Saturday morning timed 5k without the hassle of a lengthy detour via Carlisle or Workington.
With a committed core of local running types (thanks in no small part to some challenging annuals such as the Half Marathon and Derwentwater 10) I always thought a parkrun would be well received in Keswick. With an average turnout around the 100 mark that seems to ring true although I get the impression that about half of those are parkrun tourists, with accents and running vests suggesting a good number from the Northeast.
With the town’s municipal spaces awash with dog walkers and tourists by 9am on a Saturday the organisers have wisely forsaken the likes of Fitz Park as a venue. Instead, this is a parkrun that utilises a redundant railway line. The startline is at the former station, now preserved as a lounge for the Keswick Country House Hotel. This is a short walk from the town centre and there are public toilets and Pay & Display parking on site.
The course itself sets out on the railway line footpath in the direction of Threlkeld. Although a loose surface, this is a fairly level route by Lakeland standards. A brief climb towards the A66 bypass bridge at the 1k mark, and subsequent bouncy boardwalk descent constitutes the only significant elevation change. That said, as this is an out and back course what goes down of course comes back up and the boardwalk seems less enjoyable on the return leg!
The footpath is narrow in places compared to some of the waggonway type routes in the Northeast. However, with runners reminded to keep left and a more modest turnout than the likes of Newcastle parkrun this doesn’t really cause a problem.
Due to the terrain this isn’t a route for a PB but for me gunning for out and out pace misses the point of a parkrun. This event ticks all the boxes for accessibility, challenge and friendliness. For post race refreshments there are surely few locations that could match Keswick. The recently opened Museum café nearby even does a parkrunners special bacon butty and coffee deal on production of your barcode. Alternatively I can highly recommend the breakfast menu at The Filling Station Café on Crosthwaite Road. I’ll not go into my pub recommendations; that could take some time….