Living, as I do, in Norwich city centre, the closest I tend to get to a countryside run is a brief plod through one of our many (and lovely) city parks. This weekend I had the rare opportunity to take my run ‘off-road’ while visiting family in Brundall. They say a change is as good as a rest. I’m not sure I ever feel rested after a run, but the change of scenery was certainly welcome.
The first difference between this run and my usual ones was how few people I saw. It was pre-9am on a Sunday morning and, save for a few fellow runners, I barely saw another soul. I took my time running along the main village street (named unsurprisingly ‘The Street’ ) before heading along some quieter lanes. Breathing in fresh countryside air, rather than the roadside traffic fumes I’m used to was blissful!
Brundall is a village that sits on the famous Norfolk Broads, so I would be doing myself a disservice if had I not ventured down towards the river so I headed for the locally recommended Church Fen.
Church Fen is a ‘wet woodland’ nature reserve that lies on flood plains of the River Yare. It is a, mostly boardwalk, path that leads from the village church, to the river moorings and back again on a loop. Access is via an unmanned railway crossing – something that (due to one too many episodes of ‘Casualty’ as an impressionable teenager) makes me a little nervous. Nonetheless I took a deep breath, took out my headphones and channelled the Green Cross Code adverts of my childhood and made my way down the fen – and I’m very pleased that I did.
The path leading to the river was rather overgrown, but in a charmingly unspoilt way. Initially I approached this in a rather gung ho fashion; leaping over branches and tree roots like a champion hurdler. One slight stumble, followed by a glance at the marshy waters to my left and right calmed me down and I took the rest of the route in a more sedate manner. The path then opened up to reveal a stunning view of the river, set off perfectly by the bright morning sunshine.
Church Fen is beautifully picturesque, and I enjoyed adding some variety to my runs. I have to say though; I think it is probably better suited as a location for a leisurely walk rather than a focused run. I’m sure I missed out on opportunities to take in the view fully, and explore the glimpse into nature that the route offers.
All in all a lovely run, not my fastest by a long shot, but a nice easy 5k – perfect with one week to go until my next 10k race (Run Norwich here I come!).