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Pints & Parkruns: West Links, Arbroath

Running like the wind on the Angus coast

By Andy PottsPublished 10 months ago 3 min read
There's nothing like a sea view while warming up for a parkrun.

For 2.5k, it was all going so well. Strava made encouraging noises with each kilometre, suggesting that this could be a great time. And on a flat, paved course, there was no reason to anticipate trouble ahead.

Then we turned around ... into the teeth of the wind. Somehow, that barely perceptible breeze on my back morphed into a howling gale. For two strides forward, it was one step back. A mild April morning became an Arctic blast. Heavy-coated explorers, blown off course from the far north, huddled to watch our return leg.

OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But the out-and-back at West Links, Arbroath, is an unpredictable beast. The notorious changeability of Scotland’s weather is not the issue. It’s simply a function of running along the Angus coastline. Running on the East coast usually means a sidewind coming off the sea. Arbroath and its immediate neighbours are a bit different. It’s the edge of the Tay estuary, and the shoreline runs more or less east-west, so – lucky, lucky us – the prevailing wind funnels up the estuary towards Dundee and into runners’ faces for half of the course.

But all is not lost. After all, for the other half, the same wind is at your back. Somehow, the two combined to deliver my fastest time of 2023, dipping inside 25 minutes for the first time since a frustrating enforced winter break due to illness. That highlights West Links’ potential as a PB course. There’s an open question: is it quicker with no wind, with the wind at your back from the start, or with the wind behind you to blow you home? For me, the best times tend to come with a fast start; others prefer to target negative splits and like to hold something in reserve for a strong finish.

The finish line, and some welcome shelter at the end of West Links parkrun.

The weather is the key variable. Everything else is consistently set for a fast run. It’s a promenade path, paved all the way. There are no significant inclines, and the only potential bottleneck – a dogleg over a narrow footbridge – is far enough into the course to ensure that runners are already well spaced. Attempting to use passing trains as pacers probably isn’t a good idea. If the stopping service trundling in from Carnoustie looks temptingly slow, the Aberdeen-bound express is not stopping for anyone.

Post parkrun, it’s time to seek out a smokie. Arbroath’s famed fishy delicacy – think kippers, only not quite – is widely available from cafes on the harbourfront. That’s a short walk from the parkrun start, following the route past the oddly bleak-looking Pleasureland amusement arcade and the Gayfield football ground, wave-battered home of the Red Lichties. A longer visit could take in a trip to the ruins of Arbroath Abbey, a stirring spot for any true Scotsman, while golfers are well provided by the string of links courses in the game’s ancient heartland. West Links is not much discussed in tourism circles, but if you’re in the area it’s surely worth a look.

The Pint

This proved tricky. The Redcastle Brewery was the flagship independent brewer in Angus. However, over lockdown it cut back on its beer range and focused on its distillery range instead. Arbroath itself is not blessed with a great range of bottle shops and brew pubs. However, there are options nearby. Down in Carnoustie, Shed 35 still flies the flag for independent brewing. As the name implies, it’s a small-scale enterprise which literally began in a shed. Seven years later, Shed 35 beers are regulars at local farmers markets (including Arbroath’s, on the last Sunday of the month) or available mail order from the brewery website.

First run: April 2023; PB 24:50 (April 2023)

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

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