Digested read: got lucky with a lift to Fountains Abbey parkrun. O.M.G reet nice out! Orsum. Fabbeylous actually. Really, it was! 🙂
this could take a while, maybe get yourself a tankard of mead or something – failing that gin would do, unless you are reading this over breakfast before going to work, maybe not then, maybe then coffee would be best. And if you are going for neat gin, maybe not a whole tankard, but you know what, each to their own. I won’t judge, whatever it takes to get you through the read ahead.
Rolls up sleeves. Here goes:
“Idleness is the enemy of the soul. For this reason the brethren should be occupied at certain times in manual labour and at other times in sacred reading.”
– From St Benedict’s Rule
As St Benedict quite literally set the rules for conduct at Fountains Abbey right at the outset, it seems only fair that anyone rocking up to the place on, oh I don’t know, let’s say a sunny Saturday morning 1,500 years later in 2019 for arguments sake, should at least pay a nod of respect to that legacy. This can be achieved by avoiding idleness through being actively involved in parkrun, and then spending hours poring over social media posts all about it afterwards, in the spirit of ‘sacred reading’. I reckon that has mind and body nicely covered. And people do get most evangelical about parkrun, and rightly so, me too to be fair. I am not alone in getting drunkenly emotional about it sometimes, how it brings people together. All sorts of people, in all sorts of ways. Check out this octogenarian meet up at Bushy parkrun this weekend for starters. Looks amazing, as does their celebratory cake. Hurrah!
I know. Amazing! Anyway, where was I, oh yes, Fountains Abbey, and filling you in on St Benedict, or ‘Big Ben’ as I shall think of him from now on.
Here he is below, writing his rules apparently, in Latin, which isn’t massively inclusive to be fair, but I daresay he was a product of his time. I’m sure nowadays he’d be more explicit about doing parkrun and then be pictured writing the run report afterwards (not in Latin), but here he is anyway.
I’m glad I don’t have to write this blog post standing up, and by quill pen, that would be a bit of a palaver to be honest, but I daresay he had more self-discipline and less access to the interweb and a blogging platform, so we are all but products of our time. Though times needn’t be what defines us as parkrunners. No indeedy, not at all, you see, it’s not about the times necessarily at parkrun, it’s about the taking part, a run not a race and all that. Head for a PB if you wish, or enjoy a social romp round at a more leisurely pace. Anyways, it’s extremely hard to concentrate on running round at Fountains Abbey because the setting is distractingly spectacular and if you are me, you therefore have to stop every 20 yards or so to take a blurry photo or interact with a marshal. These things take time. Documenting a parkrun location like this just can’t be hurried.
I mean just look at it – this isn’t my photo to be fair, it’s one from the NT website, but you get the gist, mine are more, erm,
blurred authentically atmospheric.
Oh, am I making no sense? That’s not a first for me. The thing is, apparently, accordingtoWikipediasoitmustbetrue, The Rule of Saint Benedict (Latin: Regula Benedicti) is a book of precepts written in 516 by Benedict of Nursia (c. AD 480–550) for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot. Fountains Abbey is a National Trust site – not only that, but Studley Royal park, which includes the ruins of Fountains Abbey was one of the first sites in the UK to be inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage Site listings in 1986. That’s really, really impressive. No wonder they have a stone to that effect, even if it does say 1987 on it, and I got confused when I first saw it thinking as foundation stones go, that didn’t seem all that old for an abbey… If I’d understood the stone correctly, that would mean the abbey was founded the same year that top film releases included Cry Freedom, The Fly and Dirty Dancing. Now even allowing for a lack of general maintenance of the site since then, it shouldn’t really have crumbled into quite such of a ruin in the intervening years. …. it was helpful therefore to establish indeed it hadn’t. It had just got confirmation of its World Heritage Site status which is jolly good, and entirely different. Chronology clarified. Phew.
In fact, the abbey was founded in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks from St Mary’s in York. They’d grown fed up of the extravagant and rowdy way that the monks lived in York and so they escaped seeking to live a devout and simple lifestyle elsewhere. This was how they came to Fountains. That’s what the NT website says anyway, so I’m guessing St Benedict didn’t deliver his rule book in person. Not if he wrote it in 516, surely?
Incidentally, I think it a pleasing coincidence that right now, Unesco’s World Heritage Committee has been meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan to decide which sites deserve special status and protection. How exciting. There will be new kids on the block, but just so you know, this means, Fountains Abbey ranks alongside these offerings, however, it exceeds them in respect of providing a parkrun, those other locations don’t …. yet. It may of course only be a matter of time, but for now, Fountains Abbey is preferable as a destination of choice for a Saturday morning. How fortuitous to me that is reachable from Sheffield if facilitated by an early start and a driver for the morning. Yay!
believe the hype!
It’s little wonder I’ve been wanting to do the parkrun here for ages, because whenever you see people’s photos of it it just looks stunning. However, now I’ve been, I can report than not only is indeed stunning – stunning to such a degree that even the stunning photos you see don’t do it justice – but also it has a fascinating and extensive history. You’ll have to google yourself but I will say this, according to historic uk . com Fountains Abbey:
lies along the valley of the River Skell about two miles west of Ripon. The Abbey, Britain’s largest monastic ruin, was founded in 1132 by thirteen Benedictine monks from St Mary’s Abbey in York seeking a simpler life, who later became Cistercian monks. The abbey was named Fountains Abbey because of the springs of water that existed in the area
and I have no reason to doubt any of this. Upshot is, it provides the perfect overlap of parkrun and culture, all capped off with a particularly excellent cafe. What’s not to like?
So back to basics, I’m ahead of myself..
My vague idea of ‘I’d really love to go to Fountains Abbey parkrun one day‘ became a more concrete plan after last week’s Round Sheffield Run. In the post run chit chat, I bumped into some fellow Sheffield Hallam parkrunners, who are also very committed parkrun tourists who’ve ticked off a pretty phenomenal number of destinations, but crucially not as yet Fountains. Let’s go together! Hurrah. It shall be so, how exciting! Particularly for me as I’d got it into my head that Fountains Abbey is a million miles away from Sheffield, and you’d basically need to head off the Sunday before to get there in time for it the following Saturday – incidentally, that might in fact be true if you are reliant on public transport, as it doesn’t look as if there ish even a bus every day. In fact, my fellow parkrunners were more optimistic thinking it was ‘about an hour’. Turns out we were both wrong, as it’s more like 90 mins if the roads are clear, and you aren’t as cautious as me about putting your foot down on the motorway, but you have to factor in YOU MUST NOT BE LATE. There is a bit of a hike down to the start of this parkrun, and to avoid abusing the hospitality of the National Trust, if you ain’t within the boundary walls by 8.45, you ain’t getting in. This may sound harsh, but having been to the event I can see why. Also, they had a serious medical incident a while back, where paramedics were needed, and it brought home to everyone the importance of the run briefing and everyone being clued up on what to do. Also, no late arrivals starting behind the tail walker. Fountains Abbey parkrun have quite a good Facebook post explaining some of their course specific logistics as a pinned post. I think it’s helpful. Worth a gander.
Anyway, upshot was, date fixed, this was really happening BRING IT ON!
As with many parkrun adventures, this one began with an early morning start, and a trot down to my local corner supermarket, which is very fine spot indeed from which to embark on any new expedition or happening. So it was, here I was 6.35 a.m. bright eyed and bushy tailed, all expectant and excited and on the look out for my conveyance for the morning. Love Pops! No wonder my eyes were popping out with excitement of it all!
It was drizzling a bit, but to be honest, I was quite relived about that, I’ve been struggling in the heat.
After a bit, good news, that’s it, that’s my conveyance coming up the road, with two cheery parkrunners within. Soooooooooooooooooo exciting! Even if in my excitement, I struggled to locate the door handle for the car. Not my fault, it was all aerodynamically set in on the body work so disguised. To gain access took a fair bit of initiative and problem solving skills on a par with completing a Rubik’s cube, which to be fair I’ve never actually achieved so let’s be a bit more realistic…. almost on a par with completing a Rubik’s cube.
I was fully committed to getting to Fountains though, so it would take more than a hidden door handle to stop me getting in that car! I was in, and we were on our way!
It was indeed an ok drive to get there, especially as I didn’t have the angst of actually driving. The roads were clear, satnav took us to our destination, waving at Temple Newsam parkrun vaguely over the horizon as we passed it (sort of) en route.
And we arrived, at the deserted car park, around 8.15 I think. The only problem was, because we were indeed pretty early – which is still waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay preferable to being even an eeny teeny bit late – there was no other sign of parkrun life. Also, the car parking area is sort of tastefully landscaped, which meant it was unexpectedly confusing about where you should park, it had lots of side parks, and the signage was tasteful and discrete so it took a little while to decide where to pull up and fathom what direction to head in. The car park looks like this by the way, in winter – picture is from the handy Fountains Abbey parkrun pictorial guide. In fact, I might nick some of their other pics, as they fill in the gaps in my own record very nicely. 🙂
After a couple of strategic circuits, trying to find other life forms and the best place to park, we pulled up near to someone else who was heaving on trainers, and then followed signs to the visitors’ centre. It wasn’t very far, nor was it too much of a navigational challenge on account of the fact the visitors centre is ENORMOUS!
It was all VERY exciting. Such amazing facilities, a huge cafe, loos, indoor and outdoor seating areas, fab views, a gift shop and…. most importantly of all loos. I say loos, but honestly, what loos were these? Pretty much a destination in their own right I’d say. Never seen anything like it, and I’ve seen the loos at Osterley parkrun, which have their own topiary lining the path on the way in:
Now my regular reader will know that I do like to be able to avail myself of a precautionary pee pre parkrun, never more so than when undertaking parkrun tourism, when you arrive full-bladdered after a long journey. Well, what can I say about the Fountains Abbey loos? Not only were they present – always a boon – but they were hi-tech to such a degree that the sinks had instructions on them so the user would know how to operate them. I know! I’m not even exaggerating for comedic effect. These were space age, sleek, immaculately clean and ‘touch free’ steel and white porcelain designs. I mean just look on in wonder:
And it wasn’t just me who was amazed and impressed in equal measure. Emerging from our respective ablutions, newly arrived runners remarked to one another with wonderment about what they had just seen. Who knew that posh toiletry fittings could be such an ice breaker, way more user friendly than the Monty Python’s Big Red Book chocolate box selections which it is true would break the ice at parties, but was not to everyone’s taste. Take for example ‘Spring Surprise’, chocolate wrapped around two stainless steel bolts that “spring out and plunge straight through both [of the victim’s] cheeks”. Would certainly get people talking, but also create an awkward health and safety issue which would have to be resolved before parkrun got under way.
As if the delights of the toilets wasn’t enough, there were more big reveals still to come. Specifically, after the devastating discovery that there was a disappointing lack of perennials available for purchase at last weekend’s otherwise excellent Round Sheffield Run, I am pleased to report dear reader, that here the Fountains Abbey parkrun venue offered up an excellent selection of plants – not only for borders, but for complete garden redesign. Hurrah. Told you it would be a good move to have this offer at the RSR next year. I mean just look, and this was just our fly-by observations en route to the start!
This kept us entertained for a bit, just browsing… for now but anyone from Sheffield could tell you that those Monday Mobsters know their onions. She’ll be back if there’s a bargain to be bagged!
and then we saw a sign pointing towards the start area, and espied a teasing glimpse of the horizon in the distance, through a gentle swishing screen of tall grasses. O.M.G it was just so picturesque, if you haven’t been there yet, you’ll have no idea. Just go!
Now there was a dilemma. We were still a good half hour early, but it takes 15 mins to get to start (ish) but I was thinking I might need a second pee before taking to the trail. Well, the early start necessitated extra caffeine, and I hadn’t fully thought through the consequences of that. But as we hadn’t been before didn’t want to cut it too fine trying to locate the start. What to do? Well dear reader, I can report that as if by magic a cheery hi-vis hero appeared to save the day. Not only did he give instructions to the start – which were quite complicated to be fair, but actually just follow the signs/ everyone else, but also he informed us there were more loos at the start! This is the parkrun that just keeps on giving. Stress alleviated, we could march on with confidence and without tena ladies. Hurrah! What a nice man. You can just make out the abbey in the middle, but it sort of blends into the tree line. Think of my photos as being about giving the gist of the occasion, a teaser to make you go find out for yourself, that way you will have managed your expectations and I can cease being embarrassed about my ineptitude with a camera and concentrate on being embarrassed about my ineptitude as a runner which frankly is quite time consuming enough!
Thank you nice marshal. He even took a team photo for us. I think this is the only one that captures us all together, looking individually and collectively gorgeous I’m sure you’ll agree.
so next mission, was to walk down to the start. Even this was lovely. It was like a little treasure trail of discoveries. Fantastic views, educational displays, interactions with other massing parkrunners, lots of wool – the only disappointment is that parkrunners were explicitly warned off the adventure playground prior to 10 a.m. which was a shame, as it looked extremely enticing! Enjoy the smorgasbord of photos documenting our walk below:
It isn’t massively far, but you do need a good 15 minutes because if you are newcomer you will definitely be distracted by the sights and delights on the way down. You have to inspect the wicker monk for example, and spot the real hen alongside the model ones. These things take time.
When you arrive though, wow. I thought nothing was going to top the loos, but I was wrong. It’s gorgeous, and we’d only seen a glimpse of what was to unfold.
Once you reach the path at the abbey, you can spot the assembling volunteers, and a steady stream of runners coming to the start area. I went for a mini explore, and can confirm there are indeed more toilets in this area, but also ruins, and views and places to go and people to see and also a random ladder on a path – in situ for the RD briefing, but I still couldn’t see that, but minor point. Amongst the parkrunners was one adorned with a bespoke sash to mark the occasion of a both a birthday and a fiftieth run. Nice planning there, well done. I asked about a bag drop, and basically there is a handy ruin where you can stash things. Excellent.
After a bit of milling and chilling, there was a call to move towards the start, and 400+ of us duly did. The paths are pretty good, but they do ask you to line up in approximate finish times and have signs to help with that. Dogs and buggies – along with accompanying responsible adults – are at the back. There were a fair few tourists, and you could feel the frisson of excitement as we skipped to the starting pens! I was a bit confused by the sweatshop running club, I thought sweatshop went into administration, so not sure if that is a hangover from one of their running shops, or something else entirely…
Astonishingly, people were pretty silent for the run briefing, huge relief. It does my head in when people talk through that. Volunteers were thanked, milestones celebrated and the course was explained. Usual things. Thanks for some donated tops worn by the volunteers, but I didn’t catch quite what they were, maybe I’ll work it out retrospectively from the pics.
Oh you want to know the course, fair do-s. The Fountains Abbey parkrun website blah de blah describes the course thus:
Sheltered in a secluded valley only around 3 miles south west of Ripon lies Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden; a World Heritage site and one of the most historic and beautiful places in Europe. Starting from Huby’s Tower at the Abbey, this is a 2 lap gently undulating, clockwise course run entirely on National Trust land on firm footpaths, designed to ensure no runner will be lapped. The route is marked with high vis signs. All runners should wear road shoes in all weathers; there are no muddy sections.
The first shorter lap heads past the East Lawn, around the Rustic Bridge & Half Moon pond, following the River Skell back past the Abbey, the West Lawn and Abbey tea rooms.
The second lap passes the Abbey heading left of the Rustic Bridge around the stunning Studley Royal Water Garden crossing the narrow wooden footbridge in front of the Lake and following a stunning course back towards the finish line at Robin Hood’s Well, in sight of the Abbey.
The start and finish is a 10 minute walk from the Fountains Abbey visitor car park, cafe and toilet facilities.
and it looks like this:
Which personally, I think looks a bit like a child’s scooter, but that is probably just me. Not necessarily a pink one, but definitely that silhouette…
So that’s the theory, all well and good, but what about in practice eh?
Well, when the call for ‘off’ went out, there was the familiar ripple of movements as runners started rolling forwards. I was positioned pretty much at the back, so it took a little while to get going, but what really delayed me was having to dive to the side every few seconds to capture yet another shot of yet another view, that and to thank all the marshals, which I do endeavour to do wherever possible. I found the marshals really friendly and encouraging, by which I mean most were game for posing for a shot in between clapping enthusiastically and expert directional pointing. They were pros for sure.
The first part of the route takes you directly alongside the ruins
The path seemed to me to be pretty wide, and runners courteous. The team do warn of congestion at certain points on the course namely the rustic bridge corner for lap one and the narrow – single track only – wooden bridge that you encounter on lap two. Where I was, it was fine, I suppose faster runners might have to be more aware of one another where the corner is sharp and the paths suddenly narrow, but it’s a run not a race after all, so I like to think common sense would prevail.
After the abbey, the route opens up and it’s lovely grassland, with an artificial waterway separating you from the speedier runners heading back on the loop the other way. I did try for some arty distance shots, but my camera isn’t really up to it, but maybe if you squint, you’ll get the idea, and remember people, it’s the thought that counts.
Lovely marshals, some in pairs, they looked like they were having a lot of fun. The nice thing about a two lap course, is that you get to meet them all again. Yay!
Couple of things you should look out for in the photo montage below. Firstly, note the exquisitely even spone casing, sorry cone spacing skills of one marshal. Nice work. Don’t be fooled by the jauntily jolly smiley marshal shooing you round the lake, he pulls a bit of a trick on lap two. Nearly caught me out, but I’ve spotted marshals teleporting round courses before, didn’t fool me. Also note the fabulous reflection shots that show so much promise and deliver so much disappointment. Reference earlier comment about it being the thought that counts. Also, note how the sun has come out, just to sparkle more vividly on the water and pick out the stone ruins and green trees in all their detailed loveliness. Told you it was a nice one.
I was dropping further and further back down the field on account of my stop start approach. I might have been able to pass it off as interval training to the untrained eye, but most eyes were trained and not to be fooled. My favourite marshals today though – I know you shouldn’t really have them, but well, I couldn’t help it – pointed out that as course photographer I had a busy and important role to fulfil so it was inevitable my times would be compromised. I mean, really, I was martyring myself by so sacrificing my run! Well, she may not of actually said that in so many words, but I’m pretty sure that was the gist of it.
As I looped round the back, I found myself leapfrogging the same few runners. Specifically, this awesome twosome. As they passed marshals, and indeed a few other runners, people were asking ‘where’s the carrot?’ Hmm, puzzling. Less puzzling once I’d used my Sherlockesque detective skills and found an earlier photo on the Fountains Abbey Facebook page. I can’t entirely account for the choice or reason for this particular companion vegetable being carried en route, but I think a bit of mystery makes the world a better and more interesting place. Great running though, and great company too! Well it was for me anyway, I daresay you may have preferred a cuddly root vegetable, but glad you made the best of the situation in which you found yourselves!
As I was coming towards the end of the first lap, I could now see the runners looping round on the opposite side of the waterway again. It was again a lovely sight, but oh so hard to capture on film.
I have a renewed respect for those wildlife photographers who get stunning action shots of wildebeest on migration taken from a fair distance away. Honestly, it’s way harder than you might imagine. Mind you, if you were a ‘proper’ photographer, and got yourself down to this course you’d have an absolute field day, so much to see and so many brilliant spots to position yourself in. Never mind feeling spoilt by an ambassador breaking open the Ferrero Rocher for a photographer, here you would rewrite the rule book about what it means to feel truly indulged! Well probably, I’m not a photographer, I wouldn’t know, maybe you’d rather a challenge. In which case, many congratulations for securing the gig for The M1 Appreciation Course.
Also as you reach the end of the first lap, well if you are towards the rear of the field anyway, you get to see the marshals repositioning themselves for the finish tunnel and token scanning roles. This is an event that has a lot of marshals, but they all seemed to be having a good time together, I get the impression if it was your local event you could join the volunteer team and get a warm welcome and feel part of it all quite quickly. Oh, and hello, here is our friendly marshal from the gateway at the top earlier, also teleported down. Hurrah. I particularly enjoyed the guard of honour applauding in unison as I passed, but fine use of bright yellow flexi tubs being brought into operation. As to for what purpose, all would be revealed later.
So you loopity loop round and back to where you started from, and round you go again – now I could STILL see the faster runners, this time queuing up in the finish tunnel. I reckon that cheery looking marshal was actually quite feisty, her smiling demeanour a cover for how she might turn were you to break ranks and sprint in a straight line to the finish, splashing through the gently trickling water feature as you did so. She’d outrun you for sure. Not to be under-estimated these marshals.
You need to note that that the second loop is different, you go beyond the rustic bridge, finding the marshal has cunningly repositioned himself, almost brazen about it he was:
So onward you go, no rushing across the rustic bridge this time, and lo! You start to espy all these amazing – if slightly risque statues in amongst the water gardens.
It was like being in a novel or on a film set or something. Actually, you probably are in a film set, I can’t imagine this hasn’t been the backdrop for plenty of costume dramas in its time, it’s begging for it. What exactly are that naked couple doing, trying to recreate the scene in Dirty Dancing where they were practising in the water perhaps, but caught before they’d actually perfected the lift? Yep, that does seem the most likely explanation to be fair. I mean look closely –
I have a point do I not? Rhetorical question, I totally do! I rest my case.
Did you know there is actually a Dirty Dancing Festival where they recreate the lifts amongst other
pointless activities. I never really got that film to be honest, I was more a Fly person. Not actually a fly person as in part fly part person, but as in liking that film The Fly better. It was partly a Jeff Goldblum thing if I’m completely honest. This is a famous fly person though, George Brossard sticking up for insects everywhere.
so you romp on round, knowing, that at any minute you’ll finally get to run on to the MUCH EXCITEMENT little wooden bridge, that definitely has trolls underneath it. It must do, otherwise why would they marshal it so thoroughly and get you to keep in single file. It’s because that minimises the number of people on the bridge at all times, so if the trolls should strike, you limit the numbers affected. A bit of collateral damage perhaps, a few parkrunners lost en route, but a risk well worth taking for such a fun and iconic pathway. It couldn’t have been lovelier, bright sunshine reflecting on the water, low flying swans gliding over head. Marvellous.
I wanted to get some arty shots of some other runners behind me crossing the bridge – obviously, I had mixed feelings about what I’d do if a troll came out to grab them whilst I was shooting – exactly the complex sea of emotions a wildlife photographer has to navigate when his migrating wildebeest negotiate a river crossing and some will get snatched by crocodiles, awful shame obvs, but great photo. No trolls emerged this time though. Took a while for the runners to cross. I spoke to them later. They weren’t hesitating because of troll watch, but because they’d seen me lining up my shot and didn’t want to spoil my landscape picture. Very thoughtful!
Not too far to the finish now, but you have to drag yourself away from an astonishing statue of Neptune, I presume. And check out the adornments on the folly – if it is a folly, it might be a building with a purpose, I have no idea.
those marshals can’t be expected to wave and high-five themselves now can they? Hang on, haven’t I seen that teleporting marshal somewhere before?
and that most excellent view is calling you round, whilst behind you are photogenic runners giving their all. Incidentally, I have the photos in higher resolution if anyone wants them, get in touch. Or if you don’t want them in this post let me know and I can remove them. We will still have our memories.
and then ‘suddenly’ there they all at the finish, to cheer you in!
It’s a great welcome through the finish funnel, but slightly odd in that because it’s a narrow spot, they encourage other runners to move on through and place the barscanners a hundred metres or so ahead. Then you are on track to get back to the cafe, and parkrunners are, for the most part, to just keep on going once they can smell the coffee. This means it’s a warm welcome from the core team, but not a place where you’d be encouraged to wait to cheer in your friends as I suppose it has the potential to get crowded.
No matter, have token, will scan:
and then a lovely scenic wander back round to the start, where, if like me you have running buddies with you, there can be a grand reunion, before plodding back up the hill and to the cafe. One of our group, see if you can guess who
he it was, strode on a considerable distance ahead. It’s just his their thing apparently. Good to know. Maybe it’s like the royal family, you know, apparently they never risking travelling on the same plane together, you know, just in case. Best not to be in the vicinity of your other half when on manoeuvres, you know, just in case! 🙂
I thought so.
Mind you, it’s been said before, I can be all too easily entertained. There are worse qualities to own in life surely.
I’d taken so long to get round, my buddies were having a lie down and a power nap by the time I got back to them, but they were roused on my return. Our walk up the hill was interrupted by having to pose with wicker sculptures, you’ll do the same when your time comes. It’s actually compulsory I think, for first timers anyway.
There is also a picture of me, having a cuddle with a pig, because they are my favourite animal. Well warthogs more specifically, but I’ll settle for a pig. However, I have exercised editorial control over that snap for now. Did you know that if you scratch a warthog on its chest, it makes the hairs on its back stand on end. A tame one that is, I’m not sure a wild one would be quite so impressed. Love a warthog. Sigh. Happy days. Here is an actual warthog giving a proper cuddle, way better than a wicker pig.
Still no point in being nostalgic for pig encounters, time to focus on the cafe. En route we passed a wedding party with huge hats and morning suits coming down the other way. I suddenly felt very under dressed! Apparently last week, a bride and entourage did parkrun pre their wedding at Fountains. Hang on, let me see if I can find a pic.
There you go – taken from Fountains Abbey parkrun Facebook page photos. I’m sure they won’t mind. Looks like they both picked nice days for a white wedding.
Into the cafe. Now, I thought the loos were good, but the cafe was grand too. Spacious, not too noisy, and with ‘usual’ National Trust fare. I was a bit discombobulated by finding not one but two queues, one very much longer than the other, but the short queue didn’t seem to have any cheese scones left, which every National Trust cafe user must appreciate is the food of choice. Amusingly for me – but we’ve already established that doesn’t take much – the couple behind me in the queue were having exactly the same dilemma. We all went to the long queue, but then joked – with slight tension – about what we’d do if we all got to the front and found only one left. OH NO!
Fortunately dear reader, that eventuality did not come to pass, so all’s well that ends well. There follow mandatory cafe shots:
We debated about where the cafe sat in our top ten of post parkrun eateries, and it’s definitely a contender for first place. Spacious, clean, surprisingly not too expensive, and, not noisy either. Also huge outdoor space for post parkrun lingering and putting the world to rights in the summer. For general ambience, one of the best, for me, I’d have liked to have seen some more imaginative veggie breakfast options. Pom in Sheffield a veggie/vegan cafe is the best for actual food, though not for comfort. This place was excellent though
Only when we left, saying farewell to the token sorters, did we realise we’d missed out on the nibble and scribble option. Never mind, next time eh, next time? Hang on a parkrun minute – I’m sure I’ve seen that token sorter somewhere before…
We didn’t miss out on the shop stop though. Browsing blooms and books with enthusiasm. Wish I’d bought some basil now, bargain at £1 a pot.
and then, that was it, time to go. Bye bye Fountains Abbey parkrun, it’s been a blast, thanks for the warm welcome and the wondrous memories, watch out though, we’ll be back! parkrun Wonder of the North indeed.
For all my parkrun related posts click here. Or don’t. It’s up to you.
Mind and body though, need to keep your sacred reading up alongside your parkrunning remember though, just sayin.