Well the nights are drawing in, the evenings are getting darker, Christmas isn’t too far away, but still I continue parkrun touring. I have a couple more to do before I call it quits for 2023. This week I was headed for Devizes.
Devizes is an historic market town (pop. 17,000) in the middle of Wiltshire. The history of Devizes seems to date from 1080 when a Norman castle was built here. Because the castle stood on the boundary between three manors, it was known as ‘castrum ad devisas’ (castle on the boundaries) from which the name Devizes is taken. The castle stood for several centuries until it was destroyed during the English Civil War. In the mid nineteenth century a new castle was built, on the same site, in the medieval style. It is privately owned and was on the market as recently as 2021, so you could live here, if you fancied it and had the money.
The town of Devizes grew up around the castle, with craftsmen and traders serving the needs of the residents. The first known market in Devizes was in 1228. Wheat and barley were traded along with cheese and bacon, also wool and yarn. In 1643 the town was besieged by Parliamentary forces and following its capture, the castle was partially demolished. From the 16th century onward Devizes was known for the manufacture of cloth, mainly wool but also serge and felt. The town was home to the largest corn market in the West, where corn, livestock, cloth and much else were traded. Further industries developed over time including brewing, clock making, silversmiths and a bell foundry. Up until relatively recently Devizes was a centre for the production of tobacco and snuff.
Trade in Devizes was enhanced by the arrival of the Kennet and Avon canal in the early 1800s. Just outside the town is a spectacular flight of 29 locks ascending 237 feet at Caen Hill. The locks and the canal generally were rather neglected in the second half of the twentieth century but nowadays have been extensively restored. Devizes is now a centre for recreational canal boating with its own marina.
Modern Devizes is a pleasant place to live with over 500 listed buildings. In a recent survey it was named one of the best places to live in Wiltshire, or at any rate, one of the cheapest, with average house prices at around £288,000.
Quaker’s Walk is a long pathway on the edge of town, running northwards from the canal. It is believed to have been constructed centuries ago as part of the New Hall estate. Since August of this year the path has been home to a parkrun. The course is basically three laps up and down Quaker’s Walk. The path is mainly compacted gravel, but at the northern end you split off to the right and run on a tarmac path behind some houses. There are a few little undulations but otherwise it is fairly flat.
This parkrun has attracted some big fields since it started, partly because it is new but also, I suspect, because it begins with a Q. Some people are desperate to complete their alphabet! We had 260 starters today which is quite a lot on a relatively narrow path.
It was a lovely morning in Devizes, the autumn colours glowing in the sunshine. It was also the coldest morning for quite a while and I needed a decent warm up before I stopped shivering. It took me a little while to get going because of the congestion at the start but I eventually settled into a decent pace. I seemed to be covering each lap (approx 1 mile) in around 7:30. The course was reasonably fast but there was the odd patch where it was a bit muddy. It would be a lot worse on a rainy day. After the final lap, you still have a bit of a run in to to the finish. I tried to accelerate a little and crossed the line in 24:27 for 52nd place. About the same time as last week. I enjoyed my visit to Devizes - it’s a scenic and historic town - and I generally enjoyed the parkrun course, despite the crowds. I bumped into a few familiar faces there and was happy to see them again.
My statistics for today. My total of parkrun venues now stands at 302. I was second in my age group and thirtieth overall on age graded scores.
If you would like to see the course for yourself, here’s a YouTube video. Up and down, up and down.
Tell us your story
Inspire and be inspired by sharing your health or fitness journey. Your blog will provide you with a permanent record of your progress, with the added bonus of motivation and encouragement from our members along the way.* Manage my blogs