Memory Lane Parkrun

Posted on: 24 Mar 2017

Bit of a delay publishing this one, but here goes:


If we could choose our perfect parkrun venue, I bet a lot of us would plump for Memory Lane.

For me on Saturday morning, Memory Lane was Wilmslow Carrs.

I only recently found out Wilmslow even has a parkrun. Saturday was Wilmslow's 101st, so it's been going for nearly 2 years. With family dotted around there, you'd think I'd have heard of it before now. Then again, I'm not the world's best at keeping in touch, so the reason I haven't could easily be me 😕.

Always thought "The Carrs" was an odd name for a park. Never really bothered before now to investigate why the name should be.

Essentially the Carrs is a fairly narrow strip of parkland that follows the river Bollin northeastwards from the dip behind St Bartholemew's church to the rugby club at its farthest point. There's a path you can follow from there along the Bollin up to Quarry Bank Mill at Styal. A walk I used to really enjoy back when we were kids 😊. Was always impressed by the water wheel over at Styal Mill.

Infact the very first medal I had for running I earned in Wilmslow Carrs. It was around the time of moving from primary school at Chelford up to secondary at Thorngrove (which would later merge with Harefield and Colshaw to become what is now Wilmslow High School). That was a 2 mile fun run that started at the rugby club, and is literally the only run I ever properly enjoyed as a child. Not enough to do another one though 😀😀.

The Carrs was owned by Henry Boddington, brewer of Manchester's famous brew. In 1925 according to the arch at the entrance to the park, the land was donated "for the recreation, health and pleasure of Wilmslow and her children forever". A lovely act and sentiment I feel. Not certain of exactly what he was giving away though in 1925, as the name Carrs is derived from the Norse word for a bog 🤔.

Really I had high hopes for Wilmslow. My own experience of it would be coloured by the memories I knew would be unlocked. For Clair too I held high expectations, not of her I mean, but of the venue; my overriding memories of the Carrs are quite simply that it's a lovely place to be. Always bodes well for a place to go for a run in my eyes does that. If you simply enjoy being there, you're bound to have a good run.

Anticipation had the better of us. Awake at 3:30 in the morning is just too eager for a parkrun 15 minutes down the road. We could conceivably have whipped off down to Bushy, and still had time for breakfast before we laced up for our run 😀😀.

We arrived in time to get a warm up, and the early signs were good. The play area doesn't look that much different to how it looked back when I was at school. One glance at the aerial runway and I could see myself and Barry Mottershead, Mark Kent and Jonathon Binning, Chris Daniels, Adrian Mottram, down there for our school lunchtime, playing about the way we did. School mates long ago lost touch with. Life took us different paths.

Over the little footbridge and its me and my brother I could see, back in a time before his wheelchair, mum and dad still together, not a hint of any traumas that would come. Playing Pooh sticks in the Bollin we were. The water running much faster today than those summer days when we were doing that. I remember all our stick races one day getting spoiled by a tiny whirlpool just over by the left hand bank.

Up the little hill we went, and its Julian Rogerson now that's in the images in my mind, sometime between the Pooh sticks and those school lunchtimes. Whizzing down it on our bikes we were. His back garden was the one on the left just as we neared the top of the hill. His family must have thought I was a right wally when I was that age, I used to get a lot of migraines, and I'd nearly always end up sick with one whenever I went round there.

Along came 9am, then it was off at a canter we went. I wasn't too keen on what I'd heard, not the most inspiring sounding route, and so it turned out to be. In essence, you run downstream, come back upstream, same path, short diversion up the hill, and repeat; downstream, upstream, diversion up the hill.

There were memories of summers afternoons by the sandbanks, our little gang truenting from school when it was just too sunny and nice to bother about things like getting an education. Crossing the river by a fallen tree years and years ago with my brother and my dad.

The Memory Lane part of the day was great, but without that Wilmslow parkrun really isn't one I'd be in any hurry to repeat. Maybe I've been spoiled with the other parkruns I've done so far. Erddig certainly trumps it by a mile. As does Bramhall. South Manchester is a more enjoyable route too.

I just don't like going back and to and up and down over the same old bits of ground. Clair actually ran really well, but without the memories to call on, it wasn't exactly an inspiring route for her, and actually, I feel sorry that her first experience of parkrun turned out to be that.

I hope it hasn't put her off.

At least she got some insight into the generosity of spirit and the friendliness amongst runners, when a guy we'd never met before, who regularly runs at Wythenshawe, saw we had no change for the car park and very kindly bought us our ticket 😊. The spirit of Henry Boddington perhaps living on in him 🤔.

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