Parkrun Tourist

I took up running in 2017 following an injury that meant I had could no longer play football. My way-in was the Couch to 5k, which made me a runner for the first time in my life. This opened the door to a whole sub-section of society that I previously had no idea about – Parkrun.

Parkrun is a weekly, community 5k run held all over the place. My home Parkrun is Havant and it’s probably the best one you’ll ever do. Yes, I’m biased. I ran my first Parkrun in 2017 and discovered this community of hundreds of people who start their weekend by running together. Then I discovered that this is replicated all over the country and, in fact, all over the world. And, it’s glorious.

Over the next few years I attended Parkruns at different times in fits and starts. I mostly went to my home Parkrun and occasionally other local ones. More recently I’ve taken to checking out Parkruns in different locations if I happen to visiting that area. This is probably when I officially became a Parkrun Tourist.

It’s the best way to discover different parts of an area you are visiting. You’ll probably end up in a beautiful location, you’ll probably meet some lovely people and you’ll be doing something positive for your physical and mental health.

I’ve taken to filming short reviews and posting them on TikTok to keep a log of all the ones of done. Most recent ones at the top.

Plymvalley – 23.12.23

This is the nearest parkrun to where I grew up, in Plympton, Devon. So eventhough it’s not my official ‘home parkrun’, it’s the one I love to do when I go home-home and it’s an absolute cracker.

You can park near the start, but for the full Plymvalley experience, head to Coypool Park and Ride in Plympton and enjoy a 2km warm-up, up the Plymvalley Trail to Plymbridge Woods. It’s also free to par there, so it’s really a no-brainer.

As the name would suggest, the course is set in the valley of the River Plym. It’s two laps through the woods. We set off along the lower path by the river until we got to the bottom of the steepest hill I’ve come across in all my Parkingrunning experience. The hill has a mixture of mud and slat underfoot and twist around a beast of a ascent. There would be no shame in walking up this one, and many did. Not me obviously, I was going pretty slowly, but technically still running, just about, I think. Once at the the top, on the first lap, we take a left along a tarmac path for a kilometer, or so, descending down another really steep hill.

For the second lap, we did the whole thing again, including the beast of a hill. Except this time, you take a right at the top and do an out and back leg over a massive viaduct which gives an opportunity for some really impressive views. Then is back along the tarmac path, down the hill and across the finish line.

During the warm-up and along the top path, there can be quite a few cyclists about because it’s a perfect cycle path. Most of them share the space respectfully, some are rude idiots. Such is life, I guess.

I’m not just being biased as a local, this really is one of the best parkruns you can do. So, if you find yourself in South Devon on a Saturday morning, head to the Plymvalley Parkrun, you will not regret it.

Three words: Beautiful, wooded, trail

Netley Abbey – 25.11.23

First point of order for anyone attending this one is to bear in mind that it’s not actually at Netley Abbey. It’s in Netley, at the Royal Victoria Country Park.

I really liked this Parkrun, it’s kind of got it all. It’s a proper park, but also has a nice coastal bit. The course goes through some woods, but it’s al firm underfoot as it’s tarmac and compacted gravel. There is plenty of parking and toilets and a nice cafe. There is loads for the family to do there as well, so if you were visiting at a warmer time of year, you could easily and happily spend the day there.

My last few Parkruns have been quite tight at the start and have had many narrow point along the course, but Netley Abbey didn’t feel too bunched up, at all.

I’m not usually a fan of doing 3 laps of the same park, but I didn’t mind it here at all. Each lap takes you around the edge of a field, up a hill to a loop of the woods, back down the hill and along the coastal path for a bit. The variety of vista stops it from being dull and repetitious. The 145ft elevation gain means that it’s also a decent challenge. As it’s November, we ran the winter course, so I’m not sure how different it would be during the warmer months.

One curious thing was that, of the 18 different Parkrun events I’ve attended, this was the first one that didn’t have a finishing funnel, and I didn’t mind it.

Three words: Lovely, Friendly, Hilly

Lee-on-the-Solent – 11.11.23

Being a coastal Parkrun always means two things: it’s flat and you are exposed to the full force of whatever the weather is up to that day. Luckily for me it was a beautiful morning when I visited. The sea was calm, with clear views across to the Isle of Wight and up to Southampton. The sun was bright, but it was a very chilly start so I had to don the gloves and snood.

I’d read that some of the course was along the shingle beach, which was a bit of a worry, but in reality, it was fine. The vast majority of the course is on the tarmac path next to the beach and the shingle is very compacted, making it pleasant to run on. It’s a straight forward out-and-back-and-then-out-and-back-the-other-way type of course. It’s a little tight at the start and the first change of direction cone, but I’ve done a lot worse (not least, last week).

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I think the weather probably had a large part to play in that though.

Weirdly, I’ve always called this town Lee-on-Solent and only noticed the ‘the’ when I Googled the Parkrun. I’m clearly not the only one though as the race director said it during the briefing. Nothing to doing with running, but an odd quirk of the place name.

Three words: flat, friendly, fast

Whiteley – 4.11.23

It had been raining a lot for a while and as I made my way to Whiteley it continued to pour down. I arrived in good time and sat in the car for a bit while the heavens continued to empty. But then, it just sort of stopped, very conveniently for most of the time I was actually running. There was, however, quite a bit of standing water on the ground, particularly for one stretch of the course.

The course is all tarmac, so pretty good underfoot, but as it was autumn in the UK, there were some plenty of leaves, conkers, acorns and the one ruddy great puddle to contend with. It’s one small lap and three larger laps of the park with a little out and back bit as well. It’s quite tight in places, especially the start, so we did get bunched up a bit. It was weirdly hilly as well. Nothing major, but because it was three laps I managed to clock up an elevation gain of 86 feet.

Three words: damp, deceptive and delightful

Southsea – 2.9.23

If you’ve ever attempted the Great South Run, you be familiar with this course because Southsea seafront hosts the start and finish of the GSR. It’s very much an out and back route. We headed 2.5k east along the esplanade, ran around a cone and then 2.5k back where we came from, so KEEP LEFT.

It was a lovely day when I did it, but because it’s along the seafront it’s very exposed. This means you’ll get the full brunt of any wind, rain or even blazing sunshine that is about on any given day.

Three words: flat, fast and seaside


#Parkrun #ParkrunUK #ThankyouMarshal #ParkrunTourist #running #run #runner #runners #runhappy #runtok #Southsea #Portsmouth #Pompey

♬ The Sea – Morcheeba

Portsmouth Lakeside – 12.8.23

It’s in Portsmouth by a lake. The course is flat, the lake is quite nice and the parking is free, so it’s a pretty convenient Parkrun. Underfoot it’s all tarmac and gravel with a few puddles depending on the time of year. Road shoes will do.

The lake is home to quite a few geese and apparently they like to go to the toilet on the grass around the start and finish area. Like, it’s covered in goose poo. Be careful where you land when you collapse at the finish line.

Three words: flat, convenient and poo-ey.

Bognor Regis – 22.7.23

4 laps of the same park isn’t the most exciting course out there, but it’s a nice enough place. It’s in Hotham Park and there is plenty to keep the kids entertained if you want to spend a couple of hours there after the Parkrun. The cafe looks pretty nice too.

Three words: Flat, repetitive and family-friendly

Fareham – 15.7.23

The Fareham run takes place on a path between a golf course and a body of water Google tells me is called Salterns Lake on the Cams Mill estate. It smelt a bit funky on the day I was there but I’m not sure if it’s always like that.

Given the location its a pleasant run with nice scenery but it is a bit narrow for the most part because it’s an out and back course along the footpath.

The marshalling was great and that made it really easy to find. I got into the carpark before it got too busy, but I think there are other options near by if it fills up. There was also a sign language interpreter during the briefing for those with hearing impairments.

Three words: Narrow, nice and smelly

Ashton Court – 10.6.23

Weymouth – 11.3.23

Guildford – 29.10.22

Central, Plymouth – 27.8.22

Great Salterns – 20.8.22

Chichester – 6.8.22

Queen Elizabeth Country Park – 20.1.22

Havant – 30.10.21

COVID Lockdown Garden Parkrun – 25.9.21


Throw back to 2021 when I had to stay at home woth Covid, so I did a Parkrun in my garden. #Parkrun #ParkrunUK #ThankyouMarshal #ParkrunTourist #running #run #runner #runners #runhappy

♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim

If you’re more of a YouTube sort of person, check out my Parkrun Tourist adventures here.