Running with the Tudors

Just to the east of Marlborough is Savernake Forest, roughly 7 square miles of ancient woodland. It has some illustrious history – it’s where Henry 8th met Jane Seymour, who grew up at nearby Wulfhall, on which the BBC series Wolf Hall was based. It was a royal hunting forest, packed full of ancient trees.


More importantly for this girl,  it also has some fantastic trails, which have been crying out to be explored, and yesterday I got to do some exploring.


We did a quick family hike there a few weeks ago when the Autumn leaves were looking really lovely. (The photos in this post are a mix of those I took on that hike, when the weather was lovely and yesterday, when it was grey).  We discovered that there’s no sign-posting in the forest at all, which made it rather confusing, particularly as it all looks identical. So when the Husband and I headed there yesterday morning to run, we took our trusty map and decided to do a really simple out-and-back so we wouldn’t get lost.

This looks so clear – reality was as clear as mud

It had been busy when we hiked there last time – on a grey, chilly Monday morning there were very few people around. We parked up, used the surprisingly stylish foresty loos….


….and set off. Most of the running was on carriage-road, which is like Californian fire-roads – unpaved but much more solid than normal trail. They were carpeted with leaves and it was soft underfoot.



After a mile, we came out on Grand Avenue, the main carriage-road that crosses the forest. We ran down there for a couple of miles – it was flipping hilly, there wasn’t a flat section in the whole of the forest. It felt like a rollercoaster as we slogged uphill and flew downhill. Trails radiated off on either side, they look really promising for future exploration. Apparently somewhere on Grand Avenue is a central point from where 8 ‘walks’ radiate out…but seriously, we didn’t see it.


At the top of a steep little hill, we turned and retraced our steps back to the car. Six miles of hills in total and new sights and routes explored.



It was really good to run in Savernake yesterday – it feels like a good compromise between trail and road. All the physical and mental benefits of trail-running combined with the practicality of road-running, as the road-surface was fairly decent and definitely didn’t require trail shoes. I’m looking forward to running here again, and, map in hand, branching off the carriage-roads onto the trails.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. NicJ says:

    Whilst I’m a huge advocate of map reading, our aversion to signs in forests/nature has resulted in some panicked running on my part in the past. On that basis I recommend the Ordnance Survey app collection. They have an app compass and an app to access high level free mapping. You can subscribe to access the relevant section you need in either Explorer or Landranger scale. Not just because I used to work for them but because it’s quality data. Provided you can get a signal!!

    1. Cathryn says:

      That is a good idea…thanks, I might add that to my Christmas list!

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