We love getting out to the forest.
If you look through our archive you’ll find a few posts about Delamere Forest. Our little ones love the Gruffalo and Stick Man trails, and building dens. Adam loves Parkrun and ‘just being’ in the middle of all the nature. I’m fond of just wandering around, splashing through puddles and breathing in some of that lovely foliage-y goodness.
Recently I was asked by the the Forestry Commission to check out their new running trails. The campaign is called ‘Escape the Streets’, which incorporates 1, 2 and 3k ‘Run Forest Run’ trails for beginners, and 5 and 10k ‘Wild Running’ courses for more seasoned joggers.
As well as the waymarked trails, they’ve put together a six week inspirational email programme and a motivational Spotify playlist.
Now let’s get one thing straight. I’m not ‘a jogger’. I do not have the physique of a gazelle or the pertness of Maria Sharapova. But I did successfully complete the NHS’s ‘Couch to 5k’ jogging podcast, and then successfully ran my first 5k at Parkrun
. That kind of felt like job done. Then it was winter, and then Christmas, and jogging basically went out of the window.
Until our six-year-old, The Bookworm wanted to do a 5k charity run in May. She put in a sterling effort. We completed it together in 38 minutes.
So I was a little nervous when I was approached by them. I explained that I wasn’t a pro. Not even an amateur. More of a ‘wish I was-er’. Turns out that’s what they were looking for.
Unfortunately this weekend I felt horrible, in the early stages of a lovely summer holiday cold. I picked the 3k trail and took it at a leisurely pace. We got to the forest nice and early. (Adam was running the 5k Parkrun that morning. Annoyingly I think his 5k time was quicker than my 3k.)
Actually 3k is not a distance to be sniffed at, though I’d like to think that I could jog it a bit faster.
But thankfully these trails aren’t all about worrying about your pace too much, or being a superstar, PB-smashing runner. The aim is getting ‘off the streets’ and into nature, enjoying the beauty of the forest and gaining a little fitness at the same time, getting as sweaty as you like in the process.
The route had lots of interest: a few inclines, some muddy puddles and secluded canopies. The 3k took me through a section of the forest I hadn’t seen before. I loved being the only one around that early in the morning. The signs (designated a different bright colour depending on which track you’re following) guide you with motivational phrases and a distance tracker.
I would much prefer to run the trails to my usual pavement, road, housing estate routes. And the smaller trails are ace for people with small children and those who are exploring jogging/power walking for the first time.
Of course there are miles and miles of forest to explore but the trails are great for some much-needed direction, motivation and a reliable distance route. The incremental structure of the trails (from 1km to 10km) allows you to start with a comfortable distance and work up when you want.
There were a few temporary arrows alongside the permanent signs. But somehow I think I took a wrong turn around the 2.5k point and unfortunately didn’t find the ‘Congrats! You’ve done it!’ marker. But I definitely made up the distance trying to find the rest of the family. (They were having a picnic.)
Next time I’m definitely going to encourage The Bookworm to come and jog the 2 or 3k with me. This will give her such a confidence boost to complete a real running course. And I will attempt the 5k ‘Wild Running’ course. Eventually. (Promise.)
Full disclosure: the lovely folk at Forestry Commission hooked us up with free parking and a subscription to the Bounts app, which rewards your physical activity into treats like high street vouchers.
As well as Delamere, you can check out trails at Dalby, High Lodge, Sherwood and Bedgebury.