This Forestry Commission (FC) site has a network of varying trails and wooded areas. Some of the trails are well surfaced, some are natural dirt tracks. Once I’d run the more obvious “new visitors” sections I couldn’t resist taking off down a few muddy routes that had no signposts. The Forest of Bere has trees that tower above you and which sway in the breeze as well as more densely planted areas that the sunshine struggles to get through. In short it’s ideal for trail running.
This FC map shows you the layout and the three pay and display car parks. The main car park at West Walk has toilets and running water (always useful) then there’s small car parks at Woodend and Upperford Copse which lead down to the Meon Valley Trail (MVT) . The links above will give you loads of information from their official website. Once I’d been running for a while I also noticed a food and drink mobile shop had been opened up by the Great Big Food Company who are locally from Wickham and offer quite a selection of drinks and snacks. They are there at weekends and school holidays.
The first trail I ran was the signposted route from the main car park through the two others and down to the MVT or as some may be more familiar with it, the old Wickham railway line. These trails were a combination of compacted gravel and occasional mud. Mileage wise it was about a 5K round trip.
My second route was the old oak trail on the other side of the park which has some of the oldest oaks. The trail was a lot more demanding with boggy sections and narrow tracks. Once back at the West Walk main junction of trails I set off down quite a steep hill, did some 600m reps, and then followed the circular route back.
Next it was time to go “off piste” and try some muddier and quieter routes. I largely relied on counting how many left and right turns I’d made here because there were no signposts. As I suspected the reward was some great running. You certainly get a better work out when running hills and mud because it’s impossible to keep up an even pace.
Autumns’ leaves have all disappeared and Springs daffodils aren’t out just yet so todays Winter sunshine and the double digit degrees gave you a hint of what’s to come. Dirty trainers may not be everyone’s cup of tea but forests really do have a special feeling. The trees go through their cycle of the seasons and I come to visit whenever I can. Running with views like these made the nine miles a real pleasure.
Happy Trail Running 🙂