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Pints & Parkruns: Cosmeston Lakes

Rhedwyr and King Arthur by a misty Welsh lake

By Andy PottsPublished about a year ago 3 min read
Top Story - July 2023
Early morning mist at Cosmeston Lakes

It doesn’t look it today, but Cosmeston Lakes is a reclaimed industrial site. Once, a series of cement quarries dominated what is now a country park. Today, though, it’s transformed. No hint of heavy industry remains and on a crisp, bright autumnal morning the birds emerge from the mist rising from the lake. It’s a scene to inspire thoughts of Celtic mysticism; Wales is the possible birthplace of King Arthur, and it’s not hard to imagine Geoffrey of Monmouth’s legends of Ladies in Lakes playing out right here.

That backdrop is also great for a parkrun. Two fairly flat circuits of the western lake, followed by a muddy, undulating plodge through the woodland beyond to complete the second half. After a wet week, the terrain can be testing – trail shoes definitely a plus – but there’s no need to fear extravagant elevation gain. Indeed, parts give a sense of what Hamsterley Forest or Chopwell Woods might be like without their precipitous inclines as the trail pounds through deciduous woodland on tracks dappled in the November sun.

Runners tackle the biggest slope at Cosmeston Lakes parkun. Photo by Abyd Quinn Aziz, courtesy of the run's Facebook page.

Swans and seagulls are not the only wildlife to be found in the park. The run was held for a moment amid reports of a couple of horses galloping around the course. Reassuringly, or perhaps for some thoroughbreds in the field, disappointingly, there was no sign of them once the parkrunners came under starter’s orders.

Instead, we enjoyed a satisfying stretch on a path between the two lakes, enthusiastic encouragement from the marshals and, panting and sweating at the finish line, the option of a hearty cooked breakfast at the park’s café. Just don’t call it a full English; this is the first time I’ve been a ‘Rhedwyr’ (Welsh for ‘runner’) during my parkrun adventures.

A quick lesson in Welsh for visiting runners.

All this nature is slightly surprising, given that we’re within walking distance of Penarth, the somewhat chi-chi seaside resort just beyond Cardiff. All the big city attractions are well within striking distance (motorists arriving from the Welsh capital will be pleased to hear there’s ample parking on site). Yet again, though, parkrun helps to open up unexpected new parts of our towns and cities. Like so many other routes, this one serves of a quiet reminder of the pace of change in our communities, from industrial blight to new-found nature reserve. Walking back to the B&B ahead of a busy day reporting on the IIHF Continental Cup, the environment's resilience is certainly something to ponder.

The pint

Beer in South Wales is dominated by Brains, the Cardiff-based brewery. It’s a long-standing institution, and its Rev. James ruby ale is a treacly delight. Today, though, the craft beer scene is thriving every bit as much as you’d expect in a big, vibrant city. Crafty Devil Brewing runs a pub in Penarth, about a mile and a half from Cosmeston Lakes, with up to eight of its tipples on tap.

And there’s much to enjoy among those beers. Highlights include a coffee-scented milk stout with a strong espresso kick, while the range also includes a good variety of IPAs to tantalise the hop-hunters. You can also expect an ever-changing seasonal calendar, with Wales’ long-awaited return to the World Cup commemorated on this visit by the Bale Ale, courtesy of the nearby Glamorgan Brewery. There’s also a commitment to big-screen TV sport – something of an oddity in the craft beer world, where TVs are not always welcome. A barman wearing an England rugby jersey – just a few hours after Wales suffered a shock defeat at home to Georgia – was an unexpectedly ballsy wardrobe decision.

First run: Nov. 2022; PB 24:16 (Nov. 2022)

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

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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 (10)

  • Tống Anh4 months ago

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  • Fascinating read about a keen, intermittent, pastime of mine ✅… my shoes have no hope of ever going the pace of yours! Love “undulating plodge”😊.

  • Justine Crowley9 months ago

    Congratulations on top story. Never too late to say that. I was relaxed while reading your article. Uncovering a bit of Welsh history is an added bonus.

  • Míriam Guasch10 months ago

    Congraulations on Top Story!

  • Money insighterabout a year ago

    Transformed industrial site becomes picturesque park. Very interesting

  • Naveedkk about a year ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!!!

  • Rachel Deemingabout a year ago

    I'm Welsh and I don't know anything about Cosmeston Lakes. I will investigate. Not sure I'm likely to do the run but the pint sounds tempting.

  • Babs Iversonabout a year ago

    Fantastic!!! Congratulations on Top Story!!!

  • D. ALEXANDRA PORTERabout a year ago

    Andy, congratulations on Top Story! 👏 Also, it was great to learn that a lake was reclaimed from an industrial site. Again, congratulations! ✴️

  • Ashley Limaabout a year ago

    Seems like a gorgeous place to get some fresh air and exercise. I love the way you've organized this article, it's informative but beautifully written. Congrats on TS

Andy PottsWritten by Andy Potts

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