I grew up in Croxteth, so when Sumanth told me that a parkrun was starting at Croxteth Hall, I wanted to go at the first available opportunity. As we were staying on Merseyside with my mother, Gill and I went on Saturday which was the 4th event on this course.
The Croxteth (Crocky to us natives) that I grew up in is mainly a 1950s council estate on the outskirts of Liverpool, that was bordered on 3 sides by the estate of the Molyneux family, the Earls of Sefton, who came over with William the Conqueror. The land was out of bounds to us plebs and many a football was lost over the fence and across the River Alt. The occasional sound of gunfire, probably from shooting pheasants, was enough to mean that I was scared of trespassing and we generally kept out.
Parts of the current Croxteth Hall date from 1575, though the main facade is early 18th century. However, to me, Crocky Hall was just the big house in the trees that I could see from the balcony of my Nana’s 9th floor flat! Then the last Lord Sefton died in 1972 and the Hall and land were left to Liverpool City Council. Now teenagers, and with no more fear of being shot, we began to explore the estate, but were soon discouraged by the amount of building work as much of the land was given over to private housing developments under the name of Croxteth Park. Indeed one whole street was famously purchased by a TV company and became the set for Brookside. The Hall was opened to visitors and the area aound it became Croxteth Country Park. It is here that Crocky parkrun (it will never be known as anything else!) takes place.
The run itself is on a mix of tarmac paths and trails. It is one lap, starting and finishing outside the Hall, though there is a section where you are coming back on the same path that you went out on. It is flat and, apart from one short muddy stretch, ideal for fast times.
It was a lovely morning and beginning to warm up nicely as we set-off. The first section loops around a small field, passes the ornamental pond and heads into the woods and the muddy patch. The lady running next to me, also a first timer, said “I should have worn trail shoes!” but we were soon back on firm ground. We were starting to spread out and I was a few yards behind a grey-haired man who looked a few years older than me. Knowing that the age category record was within my capability, I thought that I had better keep up with him just in case. The course continued to wind through a mix of woodland and fields, passed a Riding School and back towards the Hall. The course teases you by turning right just as you can see the Hall ahead for a final loop through the woods. By this point I had opened a gap on my grey haired friend, but he was made of stern stuff and with about 200m to go, I realised that he was right on my shoulder. This made me push on and I held him off at the end. We were both very happy to get under 20 minutes.
A couple of years ago, I was down south when Liverpool played Everton in tne FA Cup semi-final. I found a pub to watch the match and was eyed with suspicion by a young lady in an Everton shirt. When I told her that I came from Croxteth, she asked if it was “shitty Crocky or nice Crocky?”. I proudly replied that it was the former! Croxteth Hall parkrun is definitely “nice Crocky”. It is a lovely run and I highly recommend it if you are in the area (or just looking for some parkrun tourism).