Those of us that live in Barton are exceptionally fortunate to have something fantastic right on our doorsteps – the Heart of England Forest. The brainchild of the late Felix Dennis, the HoEF is a beautiful, sprawling area of both young and mature woodland, with well maintained footpaths and marked walking routes. For anyone living locally, I’m preaching to the converted here; I’m sure you all know just how beautiful it is. And with the estate looking to promote the forest and attract more visitors, it will obviously become more popular as the years go by.
I first started running in the forest in (I think) 2011. At that time, a lot of the footpaths were simply signposted as being ‘for local residents only’, and it wasn’t clear at times that what I was running through was actually a huge coordinated effort to plant the largest continous deciduous forest in England. It was exciting for me, but I didn’t know anything much about what it actually was. (Aside from, obviously, a lot of trees.) I suspected that it wasn’t public land, but nobody ever tried to chuck me off so I figured I was okay!
After a while, I wrote to the estate office in Dorsington asking for permission to run on the land. I received a lovely nice with a couple of maps enclosed, and I started exploring in earnest. Fast forward a few years and I don’t think there’s any of it that I’m not familiar with. I run there at least four times a week and sometimes more, right through the year. And what always strikes me, even now it has become more well known, is how few people I see! It is almost perfect for running, and I can easily run a short route (say three miles) or something much longer without having to spend more than a few minutes on any roads.
So, this is an invitation to anyone that would like to explore the forest and perhaps work up a bit of a sweat while doing it! It’s always nice to have a bit of company on a run, plus it can make it easier to get out of the front door if you know someone else is meeting you! If you’d like to join me, just drop me a line using the form below. I’m 41 now, so whilst I can just about get around in eight-minute miles, more often than not I prefer to go slow and just enjoy it. So please don’t worry if it’s been a while since you laced up your running shoes, or if you’re a total beginner – I’m all about taking it easy!
It really is stunning year-round, and although some of the paths can get a bit churned up, I’ve learned which ones to avoid when the weather has been especially wet. If you’re interested, let me know by using the form to drop me a line. It would be great to see you out there!
PS. For more information about the Heart of England Forest, visit https://www.heartofenglandforest.com/