A single lap, trail course around a rural National Trust estate? Um, yes please!
Finding myself in Devon on a Saturday morning after an impromptu family visit, I couldn’t resist scouting out my tourism options. There were a few events in the running (literally!). Seaton is an out and back seafront run, Exeter riverside was a strong contender, but the lure of Killerton was just too strong to deny. It’s been on my radar for a while due to happy memories of playing in the grounds as a kid. As a parkrun though, the thought of a muddy, single lap trail course through the grounds of the house and local farmland was exciting. And completely different to almost any other I’d run. So, armed with a complete change of clothes and a towel, off I went.
For the first time this year, Killerton parkrun were back on their summer course. Which, I was told, was a great thing! Something about a big hill on the winter equivalent. In fact, I know that hill, as you have to walk up it to reach the start, which let me tell you, would NOT have made for a fun finish!
The good news, is that once you’ve made it to the start it is quite literally all downhill from there. You start by disappearing over the crest of the hill. In theory this should be fast, but it’s working farmland, and so in an effort not to break an ankle in a cow hoof hole, you have to reign it in somewhat. The views however, are beautiful and in between watching your step, make sure you look around and take it all in.
The route follows an anti-clockwise grassy path, which becomes more of a stony trail through the woodland. Just as you think the course is drying out slightly, you reach an ankle deep flooded section that lasts about 20m. There’s no way round, so you might as well embrace splashing through the middle, which does at least wash the mud off your shoes. After a final left hand turn, you head across a boggy field to the finish. Which feels like it’s never going to come. You can see the house in the distance, but it never seems to get any closer. I actually think they have temporarily altered the finish after this first week as it was the kind of mud you’d lose a shoe in if your laces were in any way loose. Cross country at it’s finest.
Let’s be honest though, mud washed off, doesn’t it? And for the views, the fun of splashing through the countryside and the freedom of just running, it’s totally worth it.
Killerton parkrun is rural. Even the nearest train station is over 4 miles away, so I drove to the start and happily paid my £2 to park in the carpark. There are only 270 spaces, so I imagine at peak in the summer that could be a little more tricky. National Trust members can also park for free with their membership card. You walk past the toilets on your way from the car park which is handy.
What I especially loved
- The course. If you love trail running, it’s the best. Technical at times, great views, a mixture of surfaces. It honestly has it all. Plus it’s a single lap so there’s no repetition.
- It’s downhill! I mean, it’s still not fast, but it’s downhill.
- The setting. Killerton House is everything you’d expect from a National Trust property. It has a pretty courtyard, great coffee shop, a second hand book shop, a plant sale….
- Possibly the friendliest parkrun I’ve ever run. The marshals were lovely (as always), but it had a real community feel that’s hard to explain unless you’re there.
- Dogs! So many dogs.
- You could easily make this a family event each week. There’s lots to amuse children with whilst others are running. Any you could happily spend a morning, or longer exploring afterwards too.
And what I didn’t
- My lack of trail shoe. How do I still not own any!
None! These are not the fast trails of Moors Valley.
Unless during the summer perhaps, when the course is significantly drier, the downhill element counters the trail component, but it’s still never going to be super speedy. I actually think every extra minute is a minute well spent. The quicker you bomb round, the less time you have to enjoy the views and just being out in the countryside.
Stats from 7th March 2020
Event number: 458
Number of runners: 227
This weeks fastest: M- 19.32 F- 19.54 (!!)
All Time Stats
Lasting memory of Killerton parkrun:
Just how much better fresh countryside air and a healthy dose of mud can make you feel!