The problem with trying to complete all the parkruns in a region is that you just think you’re getting somewhere then more of the buggers spring up. The GinRunners headed up to beautiful Aberdeenshire to check out one of the latest additions to the Scottish roster, Crathes Castle parkrun.
Now, we’re not Regionnaires , we’ve still got a way to go before we reach that status. The interesting thing was that it came at the end of a week where there had been NO regionnaires in Scotland. Two events had started the week before and you can’t be in two places at once there was no way anyone could claim to have done them all.
We arrived bright and early at the estate and paid our£3 parking (proceeds to the National Trust for Scotland, who are letting us play in their garden). When we arrived the place was deserted, but we found a couple of Hi-Vis heroes setting up so we knew we were in the right place.
Of course the first question was, as always, where are the toilets. Well you have to get your priorities right !!
As 9:30 approached the car park filled up and the usual mixture of locals, tourists, visitors milled around the start area. During the pre-race briefing it was great to see how many new parkrunners were in attendance. This just proves the old adage “build it and they will come”.
As start lines go Crathes Castle takes some beating. The imposing 16th century keep is very impressive and yet another interesting place we’d never have visited if we weren’t out exploring Scotland’s parkruns.
The “proper” parkrun course is basically a figure of 8 which takes you down a long tarmac downhill to the estate gatehouse before a right turn should take you on a long climb up through the forest. Unfortunately (?) we missed the pleasure of the long climb as forestry stuff was happening and the machines had churned the path up. This meant that the nice long downhill bit became an out and back. Let’s just say coming back wasn’t nearly as much “wheeeee” fun as going out.
You are pretty much at half way by the time you get back up the hill though.
The enchanted forest
The course then goes all enchanted as you turn right down through one of those gorgeous little twisty-through-the-trees bits that are always so nice to run. The first part of this is down, then flat, before you get to the lovely uphill finish. After gently climbing through the woods you come out of the woods and take a last right turn back onto the tarmac. Now there’s no other way to say this, the finish is quite noticeably “up” but you do have the pretty castle to take your mind off the whinging coming from your legs.
Being an NTS estate there were a lot of other users about, but everyone got in splendidly. I did think I was going to take a new friend home when a lady’s wee Westie dug decided to join us on the run though. I’m not sure Grendel the Labradoodle wants a new sibling.
If you’re the sort of parkrunner who grades their events by the cafe then Crathes Castle will definitely be pretty high on your list. We’re not sure how busy the cafe usually is at 10am on a Saturday, but the staff didn’t seem to mind the sudden rush and as word spreads about this place numbers will surely grow.
Crathes Castle is one of the most varied and enjoyable parkruns we’ve done. If (and it should be when !!) you go don’t dash straight off afterwards either. The gardens are well worth a nosey around and I bet the Castle itself is worth a visit too.
A wee blog on Crathes Castle parkrun.
Not sure when the cafe officially opens, but the friendly girl working there opened the toilets for us at 9am. Not sure she’s used to a queue to get in at that time.