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Pints & Parkruns: Hartlepool

A beach beauty in Teesside

By Andy PottsPublished 2 months ago 2 min read
A beach view from close to the start of Hartlepool Parkrun

Not many people think of Hartlepool as a beautiful beach. When the town makes an impression beyond its boundaries, it tends to be about a perpetually struggling football team (not even Brian Clough managed to win anything here). Or an infamous monkey, hanged as a French spy in the Napoleonic Wars. Even that beach come with a tale attached, involving an intrepid paddler and a life insurance scam. For Seaton Carew, read Seaton Canoe.

But parkrun tourists get a chance to see the place at its finest. If the weather plays ball, this is a run with fantastic views. Out, the historic headland beckons runners forward. The route doesn’t take in the mix of maritime heritage and contemporary murals, but the district is worth a look afterwards.

Before that, though, there’s a stonker of a parkrun. Hartlepool’s event hugs the shoreline, promising brisk sea breezes, minimal elevation and a well-paved path. We’re firmly in PB territory here: Hartlepool was where I finally cracked 25 minutes after weeks of near misses on hillier courses.

An earlier trip to Hartlepool, with a photo taken from the event's FB page.

Despite a reputation for speed, Hartlepool remains friendly. Yes, you get finely-honed athletes hoping to smash records. But you also have the knowledge that North Sea winds can make this a treacherous course (see also West Links in Arbroath), and one that attracts a happy band of local enthusiasts. The two groups share happily enough: if you can dash out and back inside 20 minutes, that’s great; if you prefer a more leisurely pace you won’t feel at all out of place.

However, don’t be too leisurely about getting parked. There’s pay-and-display space close to the seafront start. Unfortunately, finding a working machine isn’t always straightforward. In lieu of a warm-up, I found myself running from place to place trying to find something to take my money. With resident permits required on the opposite side of the road, it’s worth getting there in good time and ensuring you have a couple of quid to hand.

Blue skies, blue sea and the distant Hartlepool headland.

As for the other practicalities, the course is paved all the way, ideal for road shoes and simple enough for anyone to navigate. The route sticks to the promenade all the way, turning on the pier at the southern entrance to Hartlepool docks and heading back almost all the way to the start point. The finish funnel is just off the main promenade, giving room to catch your breath after your run. If you’re lucky, there might even be cake. If not, in summer the Seaton Carew seaside will be waking up as you finish, supplying all your ice cream needs. For more substantial sustenance, check out one of the seafront cafes.

The Pint

Beer in Hartlepool always meant Camerons. The ruby red Strongarm is one of the northeast’s famous brands and is still brewed in the town. It’s also available in the Head of Steam chain of pubs, operated by Camerons across the northeast of England. While it’s encouraging to see an established beer name survive in the modern era, Hartlepool’s best local microbrew is the Crafty Monkey. The branding trades heavily on that monkey-hanging legend, but the beer itself is less prone to Hartlepudlian cliché. At a time when, whisper it, venues like the arts centre in the former All Saints church bring a funky reinvention of a long-neglected town, Crafty Monkey offers a fresh taste for traditional brews. If you’re touring by rail, check out the micropub on Hartlepool station for a flavour of today’s town.

First visit: April 2022; PB: 24:21

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


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)

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  • Charlene Ann Mildred Barroga2 months ago

    What a novel perspective on Hartlepool! Andy's detailed account of the parkrun course and the local beer culture transports me to the setting, complete with picturesque vistas and a post-run pint. To many Pints & Parkruns experiences ahead!

  • Thanks again Andy for the enjoyable read about another Parkrun! I love vicariously taking part in your Parkruns on the other side of the world 🌍! The background history is great too. I’d be keen to sample the summertime ice cream! Excellent PB!!🤩 I’ve had Plantar Fasciitis since December & haven’t been back to Parkrun since limping to the finish two months ago. Hopefully, this too shall pass 🙃.

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