Best of times at Bestwood Village parkrun #248

You never regret a parkrun EVER!

I wasn’t really feeling the love this morning. It was cold, I was feeling rough, and had no particular parkrun plans or people to go with or meet up with. I’m feeling somewhat earthbound at present, walking is hard and honestly, did have a brief moment of wondering whether or not to just roll back under the duvet for once. And might have done, but for a parkrunning friend messaging me to say that parkrun is not compulsory and maybe take a Saturday off. What sacrilege was this! It was enough to shake me to my senses, if not to my very core. It may not be actually compulsory to do a parkrun on parkrunday, but surely only in the sense that the parkrun police wont take you into custody as such. However, it is mandatory in the way that brushing your teeth in the morning is. I wouldn’t dream of facing a day without doing so, and if ever I’ve had to omit this baseline of personal hygiene – due to combination of forgotten toothbrush and extreme near death illness say – I spend the day feeling uncomfortable and even soiled in some way. It’s no way to live. Of course I’d go to a parkrun! Having my bluff called worked. Barcode on, thermals on, parkrun buff on, way to go! Also, where to go?

I have a list of parkruns that are in relatively easy reach of Sheffield, and Bestwood Village has been on it for aaaaaaaaaaaages. I don’t even know why I’ve not been before. I think it’s because at a subconscious level, Bestwood Village makes me think of an out of town shopping centre or discount retail outlets. Souless, concrete, nowt to see or do. If I’d thought about it a bit more, it was on balance unlikely that any such venue would host a parkrun, since unless it was one that began with an X (obvs), the lure of a 50 lap course round a parking lot would wear thin. And that’s allowing for the fact that it would probably be super handy for loos and post parkrun coffee. Mind you, I guess there would always be some hardcore parkrunners up for it. What about those legends that did 5k garden parkruns and even marathon distances in hotel rooms during lockdown? Mind you, lockdown drove a lot of people quite a long way down the continuum to eccentricity – if not actual madness, probably not the best reference point for parkrunning mortals now lockdown is no more. Bestwood Village parkrun it would be, it was only an hour away, and as like Lady Macbeth (but without the bloodied hands) I seem incapable of sleep, I was wide awake in good time to get over there anyway.

I’d already printed off all the info, so for those of you who like the official blah de blah I can share with you that, according to the Bestwood Village parkrun website the course:

The event takes place at Bestwood Country Park, Park Rd, Bestwood village, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG6 8UE.

Course Description: One lap clockwise around the Park, starting from the Dynamo House, heading East. There are two (and a half!) “undulations” through woodland and open parkland. As well as the marshals and temporary event signs, the course has permanent direction and distance signs.

Facilities: There is limited free parking at the Country Park: look out for parkrun signs announcing extra parking along Park Road. There is a toilet in the Dynamo House by the Start/Finish area, accessible when café staff begin preparing for the café, and there are public toilets at 1.2k around the course. Drinks and cake are on sale in the Dynamo House café after the event.

Location of start: The event starts from the back of the Dynamo House.

Getting there by road: Bestwood Country Park is on the edge of Bestwood Village, 6 miles north of Nottingham city centre. The car park can be accessed off Park Road. Sat nav users follow NG6 8UE.

Post Run Coffee: Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in Dynamo House – please come and join us!

and the course looks like this:



Wait, so Bestwood Village is not some ghastly out of town retail outlet centre at all then? This looks really nice! How have I missed this one for so long? That’ll do. And one lap! Not done a one lapper in far too long. Quick check on their pages in case of last minute cancellations but nope, looking good, and even a my-sized gap on the rota for a second parkwalker, I might volunteer my services for that if I got there in time if they were happy to have me. Relaxed either way, but the blue vis is definitely the most flattering and it is a gateway to interacting with other parkrunners and volunteers when you get to a new venue if you don’t know anyone. Yep, that would work, this had the makings of a plan!

I quite perked up, off and out, and on my way. It was a straightforward drive to Nottingham, taking me near Sherwood Pines parkrun and probably Beeston parkrun, which are two others I have very fond memories off. Oh, and hang on, am I breezing past Hucknall junior parkrun territory too? That has a great reputation as a friendly and fun parkrun. This boded well.

I made good time, cheered on my way by passing through Papplewick, which is indubitably the most excellent name for a village, and to find it is a real place, and not a made up one for hobbitland is a real boon. I also passed a rather upmarket events venue that specialises in catering for Geese, which, not gonna lie, I found commendable, but confusing. I guess with avian flu all around, those feathered friends that are able to afford it, need to take care of their health as best they can! To be fair, Papplewick does sound like the sort of place that might have such niche venues #goodtoknow



The drive really did take me through some gorgeous little villages with stone houses, traditional looking pubs and a fine selection of ancient looking crosses. I was obviously focussed on getting to parkrun, but it did make me think this is a part of the world that would be fun to explore, and that is rich with history. There was many a Sherwood reference along the way, and plenty of green spaces and woodland too, yep, this is indeed a lovely part of the world. parkrun touristing is much more fun as the days get longer and warmer – though next week could be a challenge – and it was good to be venturing a bit out and about without constant fear of imminent death due to icy patches, ill-lit roads and unknown territory. Touristing is best as a spring and summer hobby it is true.

The parkrun was super easy to find, but what made it extra fun, was the sight of two exuberant marshals, handily positioned to direct parkrunners to their overflow parking. This is maybe a 15 minute or so walk from the official start, and is locked at around 10.30 I think, but stops parkrunners clogging up the official carpark so preventing other users from visiting the country park. Fair enough. Having said that, the cheery high vis heroes advised me there was some parking a bit nearer, so I took advantage of that. Although I’m much more mobile than I was, a 5k is about my limit and if I’d had to walk there and back as well I’m not sure I’d have managed, certainly not within the time frames allowed. However, it isn’t that far, and would be the more public spirited option if coming in. Plus, you get to see the amazing foam fingered duo, who wouldn’t want to follow that directional pointing, it was ACE!



Greatly cheered by this welcome, I chugged on up to the main carpark. There was space, but it isn’t huge, I can see why they encourage parking a bit further away. Before arriving I wasn’t sure what the Dynamo Building was, but when you arrive you can’t mistake the old colliery machinery workings. They look rather fine, standing out against the blue sky. There were already some ‘caution runner’ and directional arrow signs out, and I could see the volunteers gathering too. All good. And it was only just 8.30 so lots of time. Oh, and pussy willow, right near where I’d parked the car, very seasonally appropriate. Usual apologies for my camera offerings, I know it’s time to replace, I really am on the cusp of getting a smart phone now, with a decent camera, but currently paralysed by indecision and horror at the cost. It’s a dilemma, the horns on which I sit uncomfortably. I am increasingly shamed by my pics, though I guess they are enough to give you the general idea, and frankly, for this parkrun in particular, you really should make the effort to come and see it for yourself.



So I hovered awkwardly for a bit, and then, seeing as the volunteers appeared friendly, went to say hello and see if a parkwalker might still be welcomed. They did have one already, but seemed to take a more the merrier view of things, and were happy for me to add my name to the rota which was appreciated. There were lots of fun things about the parkrun set up which I’d not seen before, so much to explore. First though, I explored the loo situation. Now, strictly speaking there aren’t really loos at the start, though there are some a mile or so round the route. However, the café was just opening, and as I was now resplendent in my high vis it was ok to nip in and avail myself of the facilities. It is just the one loo though, so not really geared up for hoards of parkrunners. What’s more, as a hangover from covid ventilation perhaps, hilariously and somewhat alarmingly, the loo door was held open with string, however, you are allowed to remove this before entering so you can powder your nose without the entire café staff looking on. Leaving the café was somewhat challenging though, as they have an automatic door, but one where you have to push a button to activate it, and when you are standing in front of the door, the button is behind you on a pillar that you can’t see. It took me longer than it ought to have done to find it. More mortifying still, I thought at first it was motion activated, so stepped back and tried to walk through it again, not a good look. Honestly, I sometimes wonder how it is I am able to live independently giving that passing through a door seemed to defeat me. Still, it’s not like anyone will ever know is it. Apart from you Dear Reader, and I’m sure you won’t tell will you?

Right, exciting things I’d not seen before, or things that I was excited to see again so beautifully executed. Well, there was a real attention to detail here. The welcoming flag was where you couldn’t fail to see it as you turned into the park, so that was a win for starters. They have the new diddy pop up sign (which I do find hard to take seriously to be honest, I know size isn’t everything, but it just looks so shrunken compared to it’s huge, aerodynamic, monstrously difficult to collapse or carry predecessor. I think the new bijous version is probably an improvement, it’s certainly more manageable, but change can be hard can it not. That’s probably why I caught sight of the old sign peering out from behind some bins. It haunts the parkrun route still. The diddy pop up sign was positioned where the first timers’ welcome and start were located. It also had the backdrop of the colliery workings which was a nice touch. Then there was the Personal Best Bell, with which Red Ted was especially taken. A displayed map of the course along with its elevation and undulations – it is Yorkshire flat. There were details of how to volunteer and perhaps finest and most innovative or all a board where finish tokens could be hung up, saving the token sorter a lot of grief. There was also a handy table surrounded by friendly volunteers. There also seemed to be a ‘guess how many tokens in a jar’ competition going on, and an opportunity to buy fresh eggs, laid this very morning. All very community spirited I felt. Splendid in fact.



I was super impressed by how friendly and chatty everyone seemed to be. It is nerve wracking rocking up at a new parkrun sometimes, but I was made very welcome. These Nottinghamshire folk seem to be a pathologically friendly lot, I recall being love-bombed at Beeston parkrun too, must be something in the woods that brings out the best in people. You’d be very lucky to have this as your home event. You need never be lonely at a parkrun again!

People started to gather the way parkrunners do. There were a fair few first timers at this parkrun and some barkrunners rocking up for their first ever ever parkrun which was jolly exciting. I LOVE it when people discover parkrun for the very first time. A whole new world for them to explore, their lives will be better for it, body, mind and soul!

After a little while, the RD summoned newbies over for the first timers’ welcome. He had a PA system, the good thing about this is that it was really easy to hear him. The bad thing was some people just talked louder to each other during it. I do despair at people talking through parkrun briefings. It just seems really rude, and like the failure to return library books, the most terrible of wrongs. parkrun asks so little from its participants in return for the free, weekly timed event, just to turn up, respect other participants and parkrun users, listen to the briefings and have a barcode if you want a time. I tried not to be too irritated, but it was a stretch.

The briefing was excellent, good humoured, welcoming and full of helpful information. There was rather a lot of talk about hills, almost all of which went upwards apparently, very little on the downhill side of undulations as far as I could make out. The course was described in some details, just one lap, regular marshals with their won spots, and a part with a red cone in an area parkrunners are especially prone to falling over for some reason. I never saw the cone, too busy chatting, maybe that’s what happens and why people end up face planting, I just got away with it today through beginner’s luck? We were reminded you could buy eggs today if you wished, but it was helpfully pointed out it might be best to do this at the end of the run rather than the start. Egg and spoon events not having entirely caught on in the parkrun world as yet for some reason. We were advised to look out for Teresa and Daisy at their own marshal spot, though Daisy wouldn’t be there today, or possibly Teresa, for reasons I can’t quite recall. There was a reminder that the overflow carpark would be locked 10.30ish so if you wanted to go for post parkrun coffee best to retrieve and repark your car. Lots of helpful detail. Be mindful of horses on the course, although for the most part they know about the parkrun and avoid the tracks at those times. Some rather cute cobs clopped by during the briefing to illustrate the point. They had riders with them, they hadn’t come on their own. Then the RD asked if there were any birthdays, or milestones or challenges or anything else. There was a birthday! Hurrah. Someone was twenty one today. Twice! It all felt genuinely welcoming, inclusive, relaxed and good natured, just as a parkrun should be.



As well as signing in the volunteers, and doing the first timers’ welcome the Run Director then did the official briefing after a short interval. This was to the point, a quick round of applause for volunteers, shout outs for birthdays and egg sales, and then we were orf! It was quite a wide start with parkrunners approaching from a variety of different angles, but it was all pretty good natured, and people found their most appropriate places within the pack. Oh one extra thing, I noticed at the start there is a route marker for a permanent 5k route which is also the parkrun course. That’s pretty cool. It makes it a most excellent place to do a freedom parkrun. This seems a welcoming, almost bespoke parkrun venue, a lot of attention to detail, all good.



I took some pictures of departing parkrunners then slotted in towards the back. I found myself in something of a no-man’s land with the tailwalkers and accompanying barkwalkers a bit behind me, and then quite a gap to the next walker ahead. After a bit I settled in to my pace, I paused to thank the marshals en route and to try to capture them in action with clapping, directional pointing and supportive cheering all nailed to perfection, each new volunteer even lovelier than the one before – nigh on impossible as that is to believe!



After the first kilometre or so, another parkrunner, who’d arrived a bit late, caught me up. She paused, thinking I would want her out of my photo and that led to us striking up a conversation, and then there was a particularly fine upward flat section, when she habitually walked bits of it anyway, so we ended up getting in stride together and having a most companionable twalk – walk and talk. It was really nice. We talked about parkrun, obviously, and her experiences as a relatively new convert, she’d only discovered parkrun earlier this year. It was lovely to be reminded of how transformative parkrun can be, and also we talked about the different volunteering roles quite a bit. I felt a bit of a fraud as parkwalker in some ways today as there wasn’t anyone who really needed my support as such, but talking to my walking buddy, it was good to find myself saying that part of the importance of the role is to my walking at parkrun visible. We were talking about cycle paths at one point, and how empty cycle paths don’t seem all that inviting. If you see many cyclists using a busy route then you are much more inclined to join in, the parkwalker role is a bit like that too. Yes, it can be solidarity or company for walkers who want that, but it’s also important just to be there, walking the route, to encourage other walkers to come join in and do the same.

The route is lovely. Even though this might not be the absolutely bonniest time of year, you get lovely open views on the edge of the wood, there is the calm and beauty of mature trees, and a good variety of planting to add interest too. It was nice to see other users of the space too, dog walkers, horse riders, all sorts. I like it when open space is appreciated in this way, everyone we met was very friendly. I had a little look up about the park when I got home, hang on, let me tell you what I’ve found out about Bestwood Country Park.


Bestwood Country Park is jointly owned by Gedling Borough Council and Nottinghamshire County Council and sits between Arnold and Bestwood village. The park has 650 acres of varied landscape, wildlife and industrial heritage. The park has become popular with walkers, cyclists and bird watchers as well as those coming to see Bestwood Winding Engine House

and according to wikipedieasoitmustbetrue Bestwood Country Park

Bestwood Country Park is a country park near Bestwood Village, Nottinghamshire, England.[1] Bestwood was a hunting estate owned by the Crown from the medieval period until the 17th century, when King Charles II gave it to his mistress, Nell Gwyn, and their son. In the Victorian era, Bestwood was the location of a coal mine which closed in 1967. It was established as a country park in 1973.


In the Middle Ages, Bestwood Country Park was a hunting estate in Sherwood Forest owned by the Crown, and used by the landed gentry and monarchs visiting Nottingham. In the 17th century, King Charles II was known to visit the park with his mistress, Nell Gwyn. He set the boundaries to the park and granted it to Gwyn and their illegitimate son Charles Beauclerk, the 1st Duke of St Albans. Thereafter, land was sold in parcels and in the early 19th century there were thirteen farms in the park. In the Victorian era, owner William Beauclerk made a significant impact on the park when he established the Bestwood Coal and Iron Company to mine coal at Bestwood colliery. The mine became the world’s first to produce one million tonnes of coal in a single year. He also demolished the original medieval hunting lodge and had designer Samuel Sanders Teulon build a new lodge. The mine was closed in 1967, and the country park was established in 1973.

Nell Gwyn: King Charles II gave Bestwood Park to his mistress Nell Gwyn and their son. While staying at the hunting lodge, the King and his guests would tease Gwyn for sleeping late and for not taking part in the hunting. The King was reported to have offered to give Gwyn “all the land she could ride around before breakfast.” The next day, he found her already sitting for breakfast. She had reportedly “ridden out early, dropping handkerchiefs along her route, and the encircled area became Bestwood Park”.

Winding engine house: The winding engine house of Bestwood Colliery in the Nottinghamshire coalfield with its vertical steam engine of 1873 has been preserved to commemorate Bestwood’s industrial heritage. The engine would lower miners into the mine shaft and winch coal back up. It stands at the entrance to the park and is now a listed building. The winding engine was restored with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the council.


That’s a pretty cool history is it not. And so it’s the winding engine you can see at the start. Hurrah. Good to know these things.

So we walked round, appreciating the outdoor space and sharing parkrun stories. My only regret, is somehow missing the iconic Red Cone, which is so important it gets an actual mention and photo on the Bestwood Village parkrun Facebook page as well as honourable mention in the run briefing. Surely a selfie would have been in order here. Keep your eyes peeled fellow parkrunner, if you find yourself here! Twisting on the dislodged gravel would have been no joke though, but to be honest I found as a walker the paths to be pretty stable, and on a dry day like today not an issue. Even so, stay safe out there!



I took photos at intervals, but they don’t really do the course justice. I loved that it was one lap, that it undulated. Properly undulated, some people exaggerate or are deluded by the extent of their elevation, but this was proper hillage and up and down. Hurrah. I loved that there were both contemplative woodland paths and more open sections. As walkers, we seemingly had the whole place to ourselves for quite a time, as the faster parkrunners were ahead out of sight, and those comprising the party at the back with the tailwalkers were some distance behind, also out of sight as the paths curved away.



There are some sections on the way were it seems like there are multiple paths, the main path is usually evident, but if you did go down one of the many alternative routes you’d end up in the right place. A sort of ‘all paths lead to the parkrun route’ scenario. Wouldn’t it be lovely if that were always the case? I mean, one day it probably will be, there are after all according to the parkrun website there are currently 1,165 parkrun events around the country taking place every weekend, with more locations being added all of the time. That’s 5k and the 2k junior events, but just in the uk. If you count all of them Worldwide there are EVEN MORE – 1891 different events currently according to the running challenges numbers. And that doesn’t even include those parkruns that have been and gone like Terrific Tring parkrun say. So many parkruns, so little time. I envy younger people who have already discovered parkrun, they will have many decades extra to go exploring in the parkrun world. Yay for them though, the world is a better place for the mixing of parkrunners across the world. There are so many places I’d never have visited and people I’d never have met were it not for parkrun and junior parkrun. I honestly can’t imagine my world without it. I’d still have my tadpoles I suppose, and they also bring me joy, but I’d like to hang on to parkrun in my life too if that’s possible. Even when parkrun didn’t happen during lockdown, and when I was poorly, it was parkrun friends who kept me connected. It’s quite something.

Oh, and there were more kilometre markers for the 5k route. You should so go and do this.

We were so engrossed in chatting, the finish funnel seemed to come into sight really quickly. A full complement of volunteers on guard to guide and welcome us in. I paused to take a photo. Maybe if I hadn’t I’d have got my final parkrun bingo number from the Running Challenges Chrome extension. 4 seconds out. Oh well, I’m almost wanting to be the slowest person ever to achieve the challenge now. I think it might be three years since I got my penultimate number! Also, worth it, to record this vision of loveliness that welcomed us home!



Just for us! Well, us and the other 120 odd participants. Not that I’m not odd too, but you know what I mean.

All timed in and scanned, we dutifully hung up our tokens on the token board. I still think that’s genius…



then to the cafe for post parkrun parkfaffery.

OMG. The cafe is amazing! It was bright and clean and run by friendly volunteers. The cake selection was fabulous, but the prices were insanely good value. The cakes are all home baked, delicious and generously sized and 75p each. You read that right seventy five pennies! Coffee or tea was but 50p for a decent filter coffee and a choose your own milk or soya milk. The cakes included vegan and probably gluten free options. It was such a bargain. Oh and behind the counter with it’s many cakes and treats, was a huge wall with old photos of the original colliery workers and houses. The terrace of miners accommodation is still standing and just round the corner from where we were standing. You can still see it, in fact I did, out of my car window as I glanced down the side streets I passed on the way out.



We found a table from which we had a good vantage point of the automatic doors that require the use of some initiative to operate. I was heartened to see it wasn’t only me who had been defeated by this challenge. At intervals someone would stand bemused at the unmoving glass, and helpful regulars would call out advice on how to exit. It was like a little enrichment activity, and in some ways it was a rather cunning ploy to identify new people to the cafe who could then be welcomed and chatted to – except they were trying to leave so to pounce on them at that point might have tipped over from love bombing into actual kidnapping, so maybe not, but you get the idea. Sort of a variant on wearing a high vis, blue or any other colour, is a signal to parkrunners new and regular alike that you are open to being approached and a friendly face to help if help is needed.

After a bit, we were joined by another of the volunteers, so that was great too, we shared parkrun stories and aspirations, and I also pumped my new besties for advice about what smartphone to go for. I’ve narrowed it down to a Samsung or a Google Pixel, previous issue for both, but still confused. It seems people who know about these things or are youthful (under 30 is youthful from my perspective) whereas people closer in age to me tend to be Samsung. Oh dear. I’ll have to set foot in a mobile phone shop and be bamboozled even further. I hate surrendering myself to such places though, usually ends up with deeper confusion. Still, my walking buddy has made a promise to volunteer at parkrun so I should make the promise to get my smart phone if not this week this month. It was going to be this week, but now we have snow forecast which makes getting out tricky (I live on a really steep hill) and also I’m thinking of getting a refurbished phone and now the new S23 has come out, maybe there will be a little flurry of bargain listings. Also, my head hurts every time I think of going into a phone shop. Then again, just think of the parkrun photos I’ll be able to take. I too may become a legend at Selfie taking – imagine that! And I’ll be able to do barcode scanning on the virtual volunteer parkrun app. I used to love doing that volunteer role. A whole new world of parkrun related adventures will be mine for the taking.


Thank you lovely Bestwood Village parkrun volunteer team for making me so welcome, and to my chat buddies I met on the way round at the end, it really made for a memorable and joyful morning. You are the best.

I hope to come back one day, perhaps in a different season, I need to see the trees in leaf, the red cone and check out some of the other cafe options too. So much to do, so little time. Yay for spreading the parkun joy,.

That’s all for now, but as ever, you can read all my parkrun related posts here.  Or not.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.  Reading is not compulsory. Thanks for sticking with me though, happy parkrunning adventures ’til we meet again. Hope you find your happy place and may all your paths keep leading you back to a parkrun route – though not in a ‘nightmarish, Escher painting, no escape, endlessly finding yourself back where you started’ sort of way, but in a joyful, ‘make the world a better place’ way, just to be clear.



Categories: 5km, parkrun, walking at parkrun | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Best of times at Bestwood Village parkrun #248

  1. WOOD this be your BEST parkrun yet? Thank you for the Tring parkrun shout out, btw. Looking forward to your joining the smart phone owners’ club.


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