Over 390 miles in a month: Pam and Claire run a marathon in every National Park

Claire and Pam are both Geophysicists with a passion for sharing the wonders of the physical world with others. They decided to put teaching aside for a month to run a marathon in every National Park in England, Wales and Scotland in September – and this is a snippet of what they reported back. To read more about their adventure visit parkdiscoverers.com

 

 

New Forest Trot

As indicated by the name, this was one of the most wooded routes that we would be taking through the National Parks and we luxuriated in the tranquillity of the forest tracks. Oaks, beech and birches all intertwined to provide a calming canopy to run through. The National Parks are so important to the protection of habitats for a vast number of species of plants and animals native to the UK and the New Forest National Park is no exception. In fact, the visibility of so many animals and birds is part of the special quality of this park. We even had the pleasure of one green woodpecker pretty much flying alongside us as it searched out food.

 

 

Pembrokeshire Amble

Our second marathon west of the border and our second coastal run; if Exmoor was a feast for the eyes, Pembrokeshire Coastal Path was a banquet for the other senses. The weather was a little less forgiving for this run so the views along the coast were not as clear and colourful as they could be. However, the lower elevation of these cliffs and hence closer proximity of the path to the sea meant that we could savour the smells and sounds more intensely. There is definitely something intoxicating and entrancing about the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks. With the cool northerly breeze gently buffeting us as we ran, it was only our taste sense that was denied any fulfilment. Easily rectified by some very yummy welsh cakes at the Ocean Café in Broad Haven!

 

 

Our Northumberland Venture

Finally reaching the Pennine Way, both of us were surprised and immensely relieved to see the flagstone path extending ahead of us. Our distant memories of walking this path had dredged up images of bog after bog, something we had secretly been dreading but too afraid to voice to each other. It seemed in 2013, the National Park Authority had put in some very hard labour to build this path, kindly funded by Natural England and for that we were truly grateful. We almost skipped up to the summit, where we met two lovely ladies, equally wind-blown and dishevelled but on good form. With the weather still being kind enough to allow us fantastic views across this remote and wild National Park, it was clear to see how Northumberland takes the crown as the largest Dark Sky Status Reserve in Europe. There are hardly any settlements to create light pollution and it was a shame that we could not afford the time to visit this secluded area at night. The view of the stars and the Milky-Way must surely be amazing from here.