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Pints & Parkruns: Riverside, Chester-le-Street

Where parkrun almost becomes parkplodge

By Andy PottsPublished 8 months ago 3 min read

This wasn’t the plan. However, with storm Ciaran prompting me to look up the designs for Noah’s Ark, it didn’t feel like a weekend for a course with grass or trails. Riverside, I hoped, would be relatively unaffected. Although this Chester-le-Street event once had an old route that cut across the grass, the last time I ran here it was all on paths.

However, the name should have been a clue. The stretch that runs alongside the River Wear had been underwater during the week. Levels had subsided to make it safe to run, but even on Saturday the water still lapped onto the path. The organisers decided to reverse the route, keeping the promenade in place but approaching it from the opposite end in the hope that nobody would hurtle down a muddy slope and end up in the drink. It was all a bit disconcerting, but it worked – albeit with some healthy caution as we plodged through puddles and sidestepped the worst of the mud.

The sign says it all ...

Normally, though, Riverside is a faster course. It’s pretty flat – Strava suggests 20m of elevation from the usual three laps, and there’s no noticeable climb in there. A few tight bends might rob the fastest runners of a PB, especially if there’s plenty of traffic, but overall there’s nothing to slow down plodders like me. It’s definitely a road shoe course under normal circumstances as well: entirely run on paved paths, mud shouldn’t be an issue even on that Riverside stretch.

Perfect for posing when you hit a milestone in Chester-le-Street

And when the weather is better, that waterside run is a joy. At this point, the Wear burbles merrily along with swans and cormorants acting as feathered pacers (note: Riverside parkrun often has genuine pacers who are more reliable than waterfowl). Just remember to keep right: the promenade isn’t fenced, and running too close to the edge runs the risk of an impromptu dip. Parktriathlon, anyone?

Away from the river, the park has notable neighbours. Durham’s County Cricket ground is next door – you’ll start with your back to the floodlights – and on the opposite side of the river you can see Lumley Castle. You might catch a glimpse of the church spire, which marks one of St. Cuthbert's many resting places on his body's long journey from Lindisfarne to nearby Durham Cathedral. While the course is buggy-friendly, there is a great playground for kids who don’t fancy a run and, in warm weather, the adjacent splashpad is all good fun until soggy children end up shivering in the car on the way home (towels, change of clothes all strongly recommended).

The Pint

Chester-le-Street doesn’t have a brewery of its own these days. The Black Storm Brewery, which bought up the old Black Hill brewery, relocated to Tyneside before going into administration in March 2023. There was a similar tale at the Stables Brewery in nearby Beamish, which weirdly had the contract for the house bitter at the English pub opposite my old apartment in Moscow. Operations moved to the Big Lamp Brewery in 2019 and its neighbour at the South Causey Inn is currently suspended. Happily, all is not lost. That Crafty Brew, a fairly new micropub and bottle shop, offers a decent range of brews. On tap, you’ll find a selection from across the country (a recent visit had London-based Anspach & Hobday, Manchester’s Marble Brewery and Tyneside’s Anarchy Brew Co on the menu). The takeaway selection is even broader, making this the perfect stop for discerning drinkers in town. It’s open from 10am on a Saturday, so if your post-parkrun schedule allows, you can start refuelling right away.

First run: Nov. 2021; PB: 24:05 (Oct. 2022)

Thanks for reading. For more Pints & Parkruns, check out 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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    Andy PottsWritten by Andy Potts

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