It’s 7.00am on Saturday 28th August, and we are London-bound for our next parkrun excursion. Fresh from our Liverpool adventure the previous week, and no date yet set for Tring restarting, we decided to head east (from leafy Buckinghamshire) to a rural spot in leafy London-shire, just inside the M25 orbital. No, that isn’t an oxymoron. There are still plenty of leafy open spaces remaining in the big smoke: Bushey Park to name but one famous example. As rural-suburban (or is that suburban-rural?) locations go, none is so surprising than that of Osterley Park, nestling as it does between the M4 and the A4, boasting a lake, pond, trees and fields as far as the eye can see.
The main roads in the vicinity are just like any other in built-up London suburbia that I remember well when growing up in Northwest London. We turned off the A4 (at this point a suburban dual carriageway) into an un-prepossessing residential side road. We followed that road to where it ended with a T-junction. Straight ahead were the open gates to Osterley Park. Our first glimpse through the Narnia-like portal into another world of rural idyll and charm.
Photo Courtesy of Google Street View (my phone was in Sat Nav mode at the time)
And what a great setting for a parkrun. A veritable oasis of natural beauty inside our capital metropolis.
But a further surprise was yet to come in the guise of a grand manor house building showing off a Palladian Arch, no less!
My ideal preference is a single lap course, although this double-lapper has a lot to offer. Firstly, it’s nice and flat and on a mixture of surfaces, mostly either tarmac or impacted gravel, so it has PB potential. Secondly you get to explore a variety of environs. To begin with the course heads north towards the motorway (!), then sharp right to follow along a wooded section adjacent to the hard shoulder of the M4 Westbound! Not exactly rural idyll, I know, but a novelty, perhaps in a similar genre to Severn Bridge parkrun* (*another one for the bucket list). After about 1.25km in, the course turns right (Thank You Marshall!) away from the motorway perimeter and back into the heartland of the park (road noise rapidly diminishing). From there the run takes you alongside a lake, open fields on the other side (with the only man-made structure in sight being a church steeple in the middle distance). From there, sharp right (again – Thank you Marshall!) through a wooded bit between the car park and an ornamental pond. Out by the pond, with the manor house in sight it’s just another 200m or so till you get to the start line again and “rinse and repeat” for lap no 2 (remembering to say “Thank you Marshall” at every corner this time!)
I have to say, at this point, a big shout out to the-time keepers on the day! As we started the second lap in front of the house, the timekeepers were shouting out our (roughly) mid-course times so far. Nice touch! Just like for the elite runners! Actually, I like to think that we park-walk-runners are all elite, each in our own way. “Your parkrun – your way”. Kudos all round – especially to this couple below.
At the end of lap 2: The final approach before coming in to land across the finish line. Well we are near London Heathrow. Oh, didn’t I mention the impossibly low-flying jet-liners overhead. Hardly noticed them! (Breaks into song: “Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner….”)
So that’s it. Another tourist parkrun Lon-done and dusted; and (humble brag arbitrary alert!) my 25th tourist parkrun. It’s Cathy’s 29th by the way. Thank you for asking.
Bye now. Must rush. Another tourist parkrun blog to write.
Where to next? Well – cue music: “If you take the low road then I”ll…..” (Happy-Ness awaits) 😉