I know, I know. I ran this yesterday. But as today’s exercise was a short walk around some rather uninspiring residential streets, I hope you’ll forgive me.
The Staunton Way is a circular walk which runs from Queen Elizabeth Park to Staunton Park and back again.
The Hill of Queen Elizabeth parkrun runs up the Staunton Way, and my plan was to follow up the parkrun with the 8 mile route to Staunton Park and to then add a mile or so by running a bit of the Havant parkrun course.
It started well. The Hill, which had felt like hard work during the parkrun, felt remarkably easy at my slightly more relaxed long run pace. At the top was a hopeful marshal, asking if I was running the South Downs Half Marathon. Flattered though I was, I had to say no, but it’s nice to think that I looked as though I could be a front runner*.
After The Hill, the path cut down along a dappled woodland path, before turning left across some fields. It was well, if not generously, waymarked, and I followed it without any problems through the churchyard, across the fields, and onto the road, cutting through sleepy villages as it went.
At mile six, I reached Rowlands Castle. I was feeling good and on course to reach Staunton Park in time to meet my mother for lunch in Havant. I kept my eyes peeled for signs, but was most of the way through the village before I saw my next one, turning left off the road and back through the woods.
I followed the signs, walking through the field of cows and their calves, and then got cold feet. The waymarking is only at junctions where you turn, and on the straight sections there is little to tell you that you’re still on track. My cold feet turned out to be well founded…
…when I reached Rowlands Castle at mile nine.
Ooops. I consulted the map (better late than never) and realised that I’d missed a sign on the southbound section of the way and overshot. The left turn off the road into the woodland turned out to be me swapping onto the northbound section, heading back towards Queen Elizabeth Park.
Twitching slightly about the time, I decided to cut off a meandering section of the route and head straight down the road to catch up with the path slightly further down. The last mile or so was more dappled woodland path, bringing me out at the lake in Staunton Park. At which point I headed to my car, gave my mother an updated ETA and headed into Havant for lunch.
A beautiful run, in glorious sunshine. It’s runs like this that make all the training worthwhile.
*I look nothing like a front runner. I suspect the marshal was just bored and killing time.