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Pints & Parkruns: Conyngham Hall, Knaresborough

Time to test your hill starts

By Andy PottsPublished 8 months ago 3 min read

Harrogate gets the headlines, but those in the know come to Knaresborough. It’s an odd little throwback of a place, perched on a precipitous gorge astride the River Nidd. Come by train – it’s on the Leeds-Harrogate-York line – and you’ll arrive at a station that could feature in a period drama. Approach in the right direction and you’ll cross the crenelated viaduct that features in almost every photo of the town.

The river also plays a big role in the local parkrun, Conyngham Hall. Early signs are encouraging: park up in a large pay & display carpark on the riverbank (which is good, right? Riverbanks tend to have fairly flat waterside trails). Find your way to the assorted bits of ruined farm building near the start, and look forward to a route that crosses the water a couple of times and scoots around a meander in the river, following an engaging mixture of tarmac and trail. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the trouble starts at the start line. Even the most bleary-eyed Saturday morning punter can’t fail to notice that it all kicks off at the bottom of a hill. Now, really. What kind of sadist thinks that parkrun begins with a brisk incline? There’s a grave danger that, far from sorting the men from the boys, this has half the field jiggered in the first 500m.

It all stems from that ‘Hall’ bit. When you drove in, you probably barely registered the building on the hill. Some kind of business facility, nothing to see there. Maybe it was quite a grand house back in the day, but now it hums with the shifting of paradigms Monday through Friday. For you, dear parkrunner, it promises to shift something else: namely your tired limbs up a surprisingly tough incline, twice. I arrived expecting a fairly gentle route and this, frankly, was an unwelcome surprise.

The bridge over to Horseshoe Field

That said, it’s worth toughing it out. What goes up must come down, after all, and as long as you let gravity do the work on your way back to the water’s edge, you’ll get to enjoy a sudden dive into open countryside. Crossing the footbridge is like stepping from purgatory to paradise. Gone are the paved paths, banging those knees with every stride, forget about inclines for a kilometre or so. Now it’s trails and fleeting glimpses of the river as you circle Horseshoe field and dart back over the bridge towards the start and a second lap, including that hill. Strava gives the total elevation as 67m, which isn’t too bad compared with several (looking at you, Queen’s Park!). But somehow, the unexpected stiff start made this one hurt more than expected. Luckily, the Black Mulberry is a parkrun friendly café (complete with small discount on production of a barcode). You'll find it along the river back into town to help with the recovery essentials.

The Pint

Knaresborough is home to Turning Circle, one of the best small breweries in the north. At the time of writing I’m tucking into the Gravedigger’s Biscuit, a powerful impy stout with a big, big martini espresso kick. It’s the kind of lazy, indulgent autumnal fare that is never going to help you to a PB, but it tastes fantastic. Happily, since few of us can handle a 9% whopper on a regular basis (at least, not if we plan to hold down jobs, embrace family life etc), they’re a versatile bunch who can knock up a range of fresh session brews to suit all tastes. Which begs the question: have I ever had a bad beer from Turning Circle? Struggling to think of one.

First run: Sep. 2002; PB: 25:25 (Sep. 2022)

Thanks for reading. For more Pints & Parkruns, please visit my website.

athletics

About the Creator

Andy Potts

Community focused sports fan from Northeast England. Tends to root for the little guy. Look out for Talking Northeast, my new project coming soon.

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Comments (2)

  • Angie the Archivist 📚🪶5 months ago

    "What goes up must come down, after all, and as long as you let gravity do the work on your way back to the water’s edge, you’ll get to enjoy a sudden dive into open countryside." Within reason, give me a hill as long as I get to enjoy the decline!

  • Another great account of a parkrun! Wonderful description for folk like me who most likely will never participate there... "It’s an odd little throwback of a place, perched on a precipitous gorge astride the River Nidd. Come by train – it’s on the Leeds-Harrogate-York line – and you’ll arrive at a station that could feature in a period drama. Approach in the right direction and you’ll cross the crenelated viaduct that features in almost every photo of the town." Sounds amazing!!

Andy PottsWritten by Andy Potts

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