Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Stowmarket Skatepark

Stowmarket Skatepark

Stowmarket Skatepark is a brilliant example of what can be achieved when enthusiastic skaters and dedicated council staff get together and make something happen.  I know this because a friendly fella called Steve told me.  I had been rolling around for a little while when Steve cycled over to say hello.  He told me about the vibrant skate / scoot / BMX scene Stowmarket has going on.  Which was great to hear.

Stowmarket Skatepark has an almost bewildering amount of variety, and I mean that in a good way.  It has the transitioned sides of skateparks like Felixstowe and Ipswich NW, and a taste of a Bury St.Edmunds style bowl.

The surface at Stowmarket Skatepark is pretty much perfect; smooth enough to be fast but rough enough to be grippy when you need it.  The angle of the transitions are a little whippy for my tastes, but that's more to do with me being a crap skater than there being anything wrong with the angles.

The real highlight of Stowmarket Skatepark for me was the bowl.  When I researched this skatepark I thought the bowl was just a place for the BMX riders to turn around after tricking their way down the length of the skatepark.  While I'm sure this is a consideration, but the way the bowl is designed makes it a total joy on a skateboard.  I don't have the skill (yet) to drop in on a bowl like the one at Bury St.Edmunds so being able to get up some speed pushing up to the Stow bowl, before rolling down into it and whipping around and back out a again is one of the coolest feeling things I've ever done on a skateboard.  I want more.

Rumour has it the skatepark you see in the photos below is only the start.  Apparently there are some metal ramps knocking about elsewhere in Stow and they might be moved onto the tarmac area beside the concrete skatepark.  I imagine this would be perfect for BMX coolsters.  There's quite a lot of space around Stowmarket Skatepark, and there's plans afoot to build a full bowl and some other cool stuff.  I can't say much more as it's only hearsay!

Stowmarket Skatepark has a whole lot to offer everyone.  And I do mean everyone.  A few feet from the skatepark there's a cafe and toilets.  I can't think of any other public, free skatepark that I've ever been to that has somewhere parents can sit and have coffee and cake while their spawn rip it up on small wheels.

Very cool.

Stowmarket Skatepark map

Stowmarket Skatepark photos

Stowmarket Skatepark videos

Got kickass footage of Stowmarket Skatepark?  Tell me about it and I'll post is on this page.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Wickham Market Skatepark

Wickham Market Skatepark

Wickham Market skatepark is quite close to my heart.  I grew up in Wickham Market and the only skating to be had back then (late 80s / early 90s) was the harsh loose gravel roads.  So the fact that a skatepark even exists in Wickham Market is pretty damn cool.  But enough of the past, let's get back to the present day.

I rocked up to Wickham Skatepark at about 4pm on a Friday afternoon.  This is a time I'd normally avoid when visiting any skatepark as it's just after chucking out time at schools, and the last thing 'da yoof' need is an ageing shredder like me clogging up the place.  So I was a bit surprised to find I had Wickham Skatepark to myself for the whole time I was there.

Over 2,000 people live in Wickham Market so it is far from a tiny village.  There's a big supermarket, an enormous health centre, a Chinese Takeaway, an Indian takeaway and lots of other shops.  Having grown up in the village I know that in geographical terms Wickham Market has a large 'sphere of influence'.  Wickham (as the locals call it) is the only place for miles around with any significant civil amenities.  It's certainly the only place for some distance in any direction with a skatepark.  Sure the skatepark has just two ramps, but in a rural location where skate spots are sparse why was Wickham skatepark empty in what I would consider a peak time?

The quarter pipe is decent enough, and at about five feet high is big enough to get a decent drop in on.  The flat ramp is of a similar height and in-between the two is a pyramid type obstacle that is de rigueur is almost all skateparks.  There's even a grind rail, which is something I haven't seen in many Suffolk Skateparks.  There's also a pretty tidy grind box.

Then I skated, and a theory as to the absence of skaters, scooters and BMX kids started to form in my mind.  Wickham Market Skatepark has an unfortunate problem.  The slab of concrete that houses the pyramid between the ramps appears to have shifted in some sort of very localised earthquake.  The borders of this obstacle are about an inch lower (or higher) than the surrounding concrete.  No big deal on a BMX, probably not even that much of a big issue on a scooter.  But on a skateboard hitting a ridge like this at speed is horrible.  You're either going to get thrown off your deck, or you're going to lose a lot of speed.  Either way this problem does not make for a pleasant skate.

I saw evidence that someone has tried to smooth the issue over with some concrete filler, but this is pretty badly smashed.  As I've said repeatedly on this blog a lot of people work really hard to make skateparks a reality, especially in rural settings.  But hitting ridges like this makes this section of Wickham Skatepark potentially unsafe.  By the time you're reading this the problem may well have been fixed, but in the meantime it's so harsh that I found I could maintain more speed dropping in, steering around the pyramid and then re-aiming for the opposite ramp.  Not ideal.

Wickham Market Skatepark map

The skatepark is the rectangle grey space on the middle of the map.

Wickham Market Skatepark photos

Wickham Maket Skatepark video

This video is just me and my family bimbling about Wickham Skatepark.  There's no fancy moves to see, but it should give you a broader idea of what this skatepark has to offer.  I should warn readers of a sensitive disposition that this video does contain footage of my wife landing on her face after skating down the flat ramp.  Rest assured however that she was fine, and was back up and skating within seconds.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Bury St.Edmunds Skatepark

Bury St.Edmunds skatepark

Bury St.Edmunds has been on my 'most wanted' list of Suffolk Skateparks to visit for a while.  Partly because there's a huge bowl, but also because out of all the skateparks in Suffolk (that I'm aware of) this is the one that seems to have the biggest community of skaters behind it.  While all skateparks only come into existence because of the hard work and campaigning of many (very cool) people, Bury Skatepark appears to be run as something by something of an autonomous collective of skaters.  Very cool.

Unlike any other skatepark I've visited in Suffolk Bury skatepark is not in the middle of a residential development.  Bury Skatepark is on an industrial estate, which is close to the centre of the city but far enough away to possibly not attract the sort of non-skater knobheads that criminally damage some of the other brilliant skate facilities this county has to offer.  In fact today when I visited Bury skatepark this afternoon I assumed it was brand spanking new.

There's no graffiti, no smashed glass, no vandalism, no evidence of anything that would detract from this skatepark being utterly pristine.  This is the first skatepark I've visited all year that I didn't have to spent at least a few minutes hunting for bits of trash and debris that might chuck me off my board.  Amazing.  Perhaps it's because Bury Skatepark isn't in the middle of a residential area, but I'd like to think that it's because the folk who use this skatepark take an enormous amount of pride in it, and want to keep it as amazing as it clearly is.  For the record the skatepark, in it's current form, opened in 2014.  But as I say, it looks brand new.  In fact one other skater turned up when I was flailing around wildly (skating) and he was genial, engaging and when I left he invited me to 'come back soon'.  Awesome.  Just one guy I know, but his attitude is one that appeared to have a deep foundation in being connected to a skatepark that's by the skaters, for the skaters, and looked after by the skaters.

Bury Skatepark has more variety to offer than anywhere else I've skated.  I am not a skilled skater by any stretch, so some parks that are just ramps and steep transitions can feel a little daunting.  Bury skatepark has plenty of trans, but also has tons of flat ramps.  I dropped in on a transition that I felt comfortable with, but there were far higher drops to be had, leading right up to the epic depth of one of half of the bowl.

Oh the bowl, oh happy days.  I'm new to bowl skating but even I was able to give one push and then carve to my heart's content in the gorgeous L-shaped bowl at Bury Skatepark.  It's smooth, welcoming, but with a deep section that teases you into taking bigger chances.  Above all it's a proper bowl, not a half cut out bowl, not a convenient place for BMXs to make and about turn.  It's a badass proper bowl, and I loved it.

I'm not sure what the deal is with parking here.  I went on a Friday afternoon so decided against parking on the single yellow lines of the roads that border Bury skatepark.  Instead I parked in the entrance to what appears to be a derelict warehouse.  I could see my car while I was skating and nobody appeared to have a problem with me parking there. But as ever, I offer no solutions, so claim indemnity if a traffic warden takes umbrage to where you leave your motor while you skate.

In addition to the epic skate plateau, with it's many slopes, trans, boxes etc and the astonishingly cool bowl there's also what I assume is a massively long BMX track cut into the dirt around the fringes of the skatepark.  It's long.  Very long.  This track is made up of tabletops (I think that's the right word) and some decent steep banked curves.  I'm guessing it's too narrow to actually race on, but it looks a ton of fun.  I wholly regret not trying to skate it.  With the right amount of leg pumping this would be a hell of a ride for anyone on four urethane wheels.

In conclusion there's not much to say other than Bury St.Edmunds skatepark... I love you.

Bury St. Edmunds Skatepark map

Bury St. Edmunds Skatepark photos

Bury St. Edmunds Skatepark videos

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Framlingham Skatepark

Framlingham Skatepark

Framlingham Skatepark has been on my hitlist for list blog since the beginning.  A friend of mine has been posting short clips of this skatepark and I've been itching to give it a skate.

I knew the skatepark was on the Pageant field so headed for Framlingham Castle, the logic being that sure the Pageant field would be next to the castle.  I was wrong.  I should have know better, I went to high school in Framlingham.  The Pageant field is in fact about a third of a mile from the castle, on the road that heads out of town towards Peasenhall.  I parked on a residential street and started a very soggy trudge across a playing field to the skatepark.

As is becoming predictable for these blog posts, it was too soggy to have a proper skate.  But in a marked improvement since my trip to Hadleigh Skatepark there was at least a little bit of dry concrete where I could have a roll around.

I'm really impressed by Framlingham Skatepark.  It has recently been renovated and some of the old metal ramps (that by all accounts had dissolved into the ground in rust) have been replaced by some really nice concrete ramps.

The highlight of the park for me is a lovely wide quarter pipe, it felt slightly higher than the other local wide quarter pipe (at Woodbridge) but I'm looking forward to spending a considerable amount of time on it once my ramp skills improve.  There's also a HUGE ramp, which is brilliant fun.  In fact there are several sloping ramps that nicely lead towards other obstacles.  Framlingham Skatepark is going to be brilliant for learning new tricks and boosting my confidence.  Framlingham Skatepark, I salute you.

Framlingham Skatepark Map

Framlingham Skatepark Photos

Framlingham Skatepark Video

I'm not showing off, blah blah blah.  The video is only posted to give you a more visceral idea of Fram skatepark than what photos alone can provide.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Hadleigh Skatepark

Hadleigh Skatepark

Hadleigh Skatepark is another skatepark that I couldn't find out much about before visiting.  The official website currently shows photos of the skatepark being built, but I knew from local press that the place was already open for business.  The Hadleigh Skatepark Facebook page shows plenty of photos of people having fun there, so I figured taking a trip up from Ipswich seemed like a pretty safe bet.

Unfortunately it was too wet to skate today, so I just wandered around the place clambering over the ramps wishing it was dry enough to get rolling.  Unlike most of the skateparks I've been too recently Hadleigh isn't a hole in the ground, in fact the whole skatepark is built on a concrete plinth about a foot high.  I imagine with even a moderate amount of winter sunshine the place would dry out nicely.

I've never been to a skatepark quite like Hadleigh skatepark.  There are no high ramps or quarter pipes but there is a TON of variety, including some features I've never seen before.  They've crammed a lot of fun stuff into a relatively small space, and yet this is a skatepark that feels quite open.  It certainly feels full of possibility.

If you like your ollie / street skating then Hadleigh Skatepark is perfect.  There are some transitions, but only about a foot high.  This could be a great place to come to terms with dropping in for the first time.   There's also a kickass looking taco shell thing that I'm itching to have a go at falling off.

There's plenty of parking in nearby residential streets, although as with any suburban skatepark I'd recommend not leaving your car blocking local parking spaces if at all possible.  The park is also a little hidden away.  I found it by parking nearby then walking down a short access road that leads to what looks like a primary school, but is in fact a community centre.  In addition to the skatepark there's a pretty great looking basketball court and a few other amenities.

Hadleigh Skatepark Map

Hadleigh Skatepark Photos

Hadleigh Skatepark video

Coming soon hopefully!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Woodbridge Skatepark

Woodbridge Skatepark

I've been wanting to skate Woodbridge Skatepark for a long time.  I have parked near it, cycling around it and come very close several times.  It gets very busy, and being fenced in the place can feel a little claustrophobic.  But this morning me and the girl finally found some time for a trip to Woodbridge.

Unfortunately it started to rain within a couple of minutes of our arrival at Woodbridge Skatepark, so we gave up and went home.  You can see from the video below that even after just a little drizzle the ramps were getting slippy.  And I've had enough of having to re-lube my bearings after soggy skates.

There is TONS of parking; the skatepark is in the middle of the huge main car park in Woodbridge.  The skatepark is about 100 yards from Woodbridge train station and near a bunch of bus stops, so getting to the skatepark is easy enough.  The car park costs just a quid for two hours parking, which is cheap for Suffolk.

Woodbridge skatepark is behind the Deben swimming pool, next to the Woodbridge community centre and temptingly close to the Adnams shop.

All the ramps and trans at Woodbridge Skatepark are very gentle, which suits me just fine.

Woodbridge Skatepark Map

Woodbridge Skatepark Photos

Woodbridge Skatepark Video

I'm only posting this video to give you an idea of the park is really like.  The first video is me falling off my skateboard and looking like the chubby old man that I am. The second video is far cooler.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Aldeburgh Skatepark

Aldeburgh Skatepark

Aldeburgh Skatepark was part myth until today.  I couldn't find any mention of it anywhere online other than a forum post somewhere saying it's near some allotments.  So when my daughter and I decided to seek it out this morning I wasn't sure we were going to find anything at all.  But a close look at Google Earth revealed something looking like it might be a little metal ramp, so off we went in search of a skatepark we still weren't sure existed.

To find Aldeburgh skatepark you have to drive to Aldeburgh Sports and Community hall and then follow a track that goes past the hall to a large playing field.  Hidden round the corner from the car park and (yes) behind some allotments we found Aldeburgh Skatepark.  All one ramp of it.  I'm not knocking it, any sort of provision is greatly appreciated, and any facility like this comes about because someone locally has campaigned hard for it.

The ramp is a metal affair, and it appears to have seen happier days.  There's no rust but a lot of the rivets and screws that hold the plates of the ramp together appear to have gone missing.

The ramp was kinda muddy, but then everything is muddy at this time of year.  Aldeburgh Skatepark may not be the most exciting skatepark in the world, but we still had fun.

There's TONS of parking and when you've had enough of skating there's a fun outdoor gym on the same playing field.

Aldeburgh Skatepark Map

Aldeburgh Skatepark Photos

Aldeburgh Skatepark Video

As with all my videos, this ain't me showing off, but might give you a clearer idea of what Aldeburgh Skatepark is like.