Day 91 mile 91: A Chalkland Run in Tring Park. Today finds me unfolding out of the car on the way to visit my parents, 4 hours south-west, just outside London beside the beautiful Tring Park. The park was formerly the garden of Tring Park Mansion, built in 1682 by Christopher Wren but altered externally in the nineteenth century. In the early eighteenth century Charles Bridgeman was employed to lay out the grounds, with a summerhouse and other buildings designed by James Gibbs. The park is Grade II listed by English Heritage in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England.
There are two areas of the SSSI are grassland on chalk scarp which have a diverse flora including rare species. Much of the parkland is managed by the cows which occasionally interrupt the parkrun, but ungrazed scrub on sloping areas provides habitat for invertebrates and breeding birds.
In the wooded Chiltern escarpment are former carriage rides. One of these, King Charles Ride or the King’s Ride, forms part of the Ridgeway National Trail. In the northeast corner are two Grade II listed monuments: an obelisk known locally as Nell Gwynne’s monument, and the summerhouse with a grand four-column temple-style portico.
The Tring Parkrun course is run entirely on grass and dirt trails. The first kilometre is a steep uphill climb across chalk fields into beech trees zigzagging to the top of the escarpment, followed by a kilometre along the ridge through the woods and a kilometre descent past the portico and Ms. Gwynne’s erection. The final two kilometres roll through the undulating park grassland past the cows and finish back in the wide wooded avenue that formed the start.
Its an amazing place, with an astounding diversity between the open grasslands and the woods; where the open sounds, light and heat from the ground close down as you enter the woods, and sounds muffle as the birdsong comes in close with the air between the Vandyke brown of the treeline. Upon turning down hill and finally exiting the forest one hurtles onto the fields where the rolling hillocks provide a deceptive test of tired legs and determination.
There is a very tangible combination of natural and national history, with a wonderful blended variety of off-road terrain compressed in such a way to make a 5k run feel like a real adventure.
I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.
Distance: 5098.5 meters recorded
(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
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P.S. Just found this on Facebook (5/4/17) Thanks to Gary who does photos for Tring Parkrun for capturing this moment of err… effort while going for the finish (determined not to be overtaken)!