It was back to Essex this week with a visit to Burnham on Crouch. This was quite a long journey but the thing is, I am saving up all those parkruns a bit nearer home for the middle of winter when I might appreciate a shorter trip.
Burnham on Crouch lies at the eastern end of Essex in an area known as the Dengie peninsula, which lies between the estuaries of the Rivers Crouch and Blackwater. Burnham is situated on the same River Crouch as South Woodham Ferrers, where I was a few weeks ago, but several miles further downstream, closer to the mouth of the river. The town has a history dating back over a thousand years. In 1016 King Edmund was defeated on the banks of the Crouch at the battle of Ashingdon by a Danish army led by King Canute. Canute subsequently became King of England and was known to posterity for his inability to turn back the tide! The Domesday Book lists the place as Burneham, the property of a certain Alward and ten free men. Not long after the Norman Conquest the first version of St Mary’s church was built in the town centre.
Burnham became known for a number of things over the centuries; firstly as a ferry port across the river and over to Wallasea Island. It was also an important fishing port and was renowned for its oyster beds which lay just offshore.
In the First World War an airfield was built here on agricultural land just next to the present Wick Farm. The airfield was taken over by the Royal Flying Corps and the aircraft here were used primarily to defend against Zeppelin attacks coming across the channel. The base was closed in 1919. In the Second World War it became a training base for one of the first Commando battalions. Many navy personnel were also trained here in the operation of landing craft.
Nowadays Burnham on Crouch is famous for one thing above all others … yachting! Burnham is sometimes referred to as the “Cowes of the East Coast” and Burnham Week is one of the major events on the yachting calendar. The headquarters of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club was constructed here in 1931 in the Art Deco style and is one of the listed buildings in the town. (Picture above) More recently, in 1989, a yachting marina was dug out of the north bank of the river. There is a second yacht marina on the opposite bank on Wallasea Island.
Burnham on Crouch parkrun is based at the Riverside Country Park. There are two laps. You start on the sports field, then run up a zigzag path onto the riverside path. You run towards the marina then turn right to do a loop around a riverside meadow. Back down to the river bank, back around the sports field then out for the second lap. Slightly undulating, some of it on hard surfaces, quite a lot on grass.
I’m not sure if we were lucky or unlucky with the weather today. The forecasters had predicted a torrential downpour. Well we didn’t have that, but it did start raining shortly before the rain began and did get increasingly wet and windy. Perhaps the weather report kept the number of starters down to 77 today. I thought I would have to take it very carefully today as the ground was rather slippy and so got off to my customary slow start. It wasn’t so bad though and I gradually worked my way through the field. I passed halfway in around 11:30 which was encouraging after the slow start. I picked off a few more people in the second lap and eventually came home in 10th place in 22:49. I was happy enough with that.
Afterwards I went for a little jog along Burnham waterfront. I can report that Burnham is a scenic place and would be a nice spot to visit. My only regret was that I didn’t see it on a finer day.
My statistics for today - that was parkrun venue number 231. I was second in my age group and fourth overall on age graded scores.
If you’d like to see the course for yourself, here it is in speeded up form.
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