The one with the loop de loop. Back in April 2016 I visited Netley Abbey parkrun for the first time. I was very new to parkrun tourism, in fact it was only the third time I’d strayed from home. I remember picking my trip there based on a blog that I’d found about it, Netley Abbey parkrun review. It all seems such a long time ago, who knew then what it would lead to.
Netley Abbey parkrun is held at the Royal Victoria Country park. The park itself is 200 acres of mature woodland and grassy parkland as well as a small shingle beach. The Royal Victoria Hospital was sited there but all that now remains is the rather striking chapel with its 150 metre tower. This is the heritage centre for the old hospital. The park also contains a rather useful tea rooms with toilets on hand and a miniature railway. There is a lot of work going on at the park at the time of writing so the course is quite different from the last visit. Parking is really straight forward, you can park in the park itself for a small fee, and if you leave a spare barcode on your dash you get a discount. There is also parking on the local roads available, postcode for the sat nav SO31 5GA.
The start and finish is currently close to the left side of the chapel when looking at it from the visitors centre. You start on the tarmac there and have a good straight to get going on there before you head off into the woods at the back of the park. Once in the woods you do a little loop before doing a bigger loop in a sort of figure 8. You repeat this three times before dropping back down a gentle slope and heading back to the finish. It’s a surprisingly quick course, relatively flat and was totally enable in road shoes, however I reckon if it’s a bit wet, due to the mixed terrain an intermediate trail shoe would be perfect.
It’s a really well supported parkrun with a good attendance and friendly atmosphere. It was a pacing event as well today, I’m not sure how regularly they do this but I get the impression it’s a reasonably regular thing. I ran it a full two minutes quicker than back in 2016 and surprised myself with a sub 23 finish and place in the top 50. However I don’t think the quicker club runners were out in force due to a local race in the Hampshire Road Race League the next day, hence the highish position. Fast or slow it’s a great parkrun that caters for everyone. There were buggy runners there as well as runners of all ages, shapes and sizes. It’s got a good family feel to it.
There’s also a great photographer there who takes great pictures of the entire field and uploads them later. This is the first run picture I’ve had taken of me that I’ve liked in quite some time.
Post run it’s off to the cafe for coffee, cake, Cornetto, conversation and contemplation, all of the important things covered. I have to say I was quite impressed with the winter ice cream selection, I managed to snag a mint chic chip cone, not had one of those since my last trip to Queen Elizabeth parkrun. There’s a good sized seating area inside and a massive area outside, I’m guessing because of the chillier conditions the outside option wasn’t a fan favourite!
I really enjoyed this repeat visit to Netley Abbey parkrun, so much so that I fancy another repeat visit soon and a pop at beating my shiny new course PB there. I’ve not repeated many courses through my parkrun travels but given how much I enjoyed this today I may well have to rethink that, at least revisit all the Hampshire runs again.
Thanks to everyone at Netley Abbey for being so friendly and welcoming.