Written by Matthew
Whenever we’re on our travels we try to fit in a bit of parkrun tourism. As our ferry docked in Birkenhead at 6.30am we decided not to hang around for the local park run, but find somewhere on our way home. We also thought this would be an opportunity to tick off another letter on our parkrun A-Z (where runners complete parkruns in places starting with every letter of the alphabet). We opted for S for Shrewsbury, just 1.5 hours drive from the ferry terminal in Birkenhead and a nice course with a couple of loops around Quarry Park then an out and back along the bank of the Severn.
The ferry docked on time and we were off and on our way. The traffic was light so we were in Shrewsbury with plenty of time to park, get the dogs their breakfast and put on our running gear. We made our way toward the Quarry Park for the start. But as we approached the park entrance along the riverside path alarm bells began to ring. Several people in high viz jackets were by the park entrance with the entrance barrier open and they were checking cars driving into the park.
As we entered the park we could see that a large stage had been set up and banners erected proclaiming ‘Shrewsbury Rocks’ (hardly!). Alas, this all pointed to one disappointing, but obvious situation – Shrewsbury parkrun had been cancelled this week due to a ‘Let’s Rock’ concert. There wasn’t enough time to get to Telford, which was the next nearest parkrun, so no parkrun for us this week after all. Mike was not a happy boy. I tried to ease his pain with a nice coffee and vegan cake from the park kiosk, but he was still very disappointed at missing out on adding to his total of 190 parkruns – and getting one closer to the magic 200.
The dogs still needed some exercise though and there was still access to large areas of the park so we strolled around. As well as beginning with s, another reason for choosing Shrewsbury was that Quarry park is actually somewhere I’d wanted to visit for a long time. The hand of a previous celebrated Gardener’s World presenter is all over Shrewsbury – Percy Thrower was once the town’s parks superintendent.
In Quarry Park, there’s a formal planting area called The Dingle (and who doesn’t love a dingle?!) The Dingle was designed by Percy Thrower and is a bit of a time-warp garden from around 1870! The flower beds are full of exquisite brightly coloured Victorian formal bedding, not generally enjoyed by modern tastes, but undeniably precise – hardly a petal out of place.
Still disappointed by the lack of parkrun (even the floral delights of the Dingle couldn’t cheer Mike up) the morning was saved by the sight of an unexpected architectural delight. At the top of the hill overlooking the park is St Chad’s church – Mike knew that it’s not just any old church though – built in 1792, and with its distinctive round shape and high tower, it is one of only seven round churches in the country.
St Chad’s, Shrewsbury is also where Charles Darwin was baptised in 1809
St Chad’s graveyard contains a fake grave to the fictional Ebeneezer Scrooge – the 1984 film: A Christmas Carol that starred George C Scott and was filmed in Shrewsbury – for the film an old gravestone was turned over and ‘Ebeneezer Scrooge’ was carved into the back, but the stone was never flipped back. We wondered who’s really buried there!
For someone not much bothered by religion, Mike does have an unusual interest in interesting churches!