Hash 373 – Plough @ Highworth

Date Hare Scribe
22 Jan 2012 Mike Colin

Prologue from GOM – “ Thanks Colin. George Bernard Shaw once said “Better never than late”. Not the case here, an excellent write up”.

Firstly hashers – apologies for a late write up; it now being mid June and the hash in question was some time ago in January.  However, a retrospective view of a hash can paint a more interesting image today, memories and facts having matured and aged, as opposed to the view captured at the moment …. now cast your minds back.

The Plough on the Lechlade road hill out of Highworth was the setting for Mike’s hash with the trail laying ably assisted by Brian.  The day dawned chilly but was a bright sunny winter morning and typical of the halcyon hashing days; when all hashes were 80% down hill, the sunshine always shone, it never rained and no-one ever got lost . . .

A good turnout of about 25 hashers arrived for the start with a mid split of a dozen runners.  Des as usual turned up after his warm up cycle ride from Chiseldon, puncture free and raring for the off.  Mike passed the usual formalities, instructing us to follow flour in various shaped blobs until the ‘On Inn’ was within arm’s reach of a pint.

A swift downhill route took us through housing towards Mike’s house (no bacon sandwiches at the front gate) and on down to the fields lying at the foot of Highworth Hill gaining glimpses of the Cotswold ridge in the distance.  At the first field the runners had already split due to Dee having a fashion crisis because Viv was wearing something similar. I think they were the only two that noticed! Dee made a quick change of outfit before joining us at the first regroup in this season’s very latest number.

Onwards across fields and along ancient hedged tracks the route was fast and flat, Ollie and myself constantly hounding each other at each junction – each of us desperately hoping we would choose the correct ‘On On.’ Ollie was determined to make his ever increasing mark on me.

Another regroup to allow the more sedate runners to catch up, whereupon Viv was seen to stumble towards us with long laces (someone was overheard commenting “I reckon one of these days she’s going to come a cropper”) and on again to a point where the flat land ended – Olllie taking the lead for a short time. Soon Mike was spotted at the top of the hill on another ancient green lane keeping an eye over his flock as the flour herded us towards him and up into Hannington, perched high above the Thames valley.  The flour led onwards through this beautiful old village, past the manor house and downhill towards the Old Church with Ollie now hot on my heels.

Hannington Church is peacefully sited at the edge of a field some distance from the village centre, although this was not always the case.  The village was burned down and moved in 1348 in an effort to stop the spread of Black Death – the surrounding fields’ still show evidence of where houses once stood.  Further downhill, the lane led to a point where all the height was once again lost, past an old Mill where the first of the walkers were met (and the footsteps at my heels were growing quieter) and on up another hill in glorious sunshine marking the final climb into Highworth and for me the last big push to the centre of Highworth town.  Down the hill past the Church with its cannon-hole scar from the civil war and finally the Plough Inn was in sight.  Ollie, bless his heart and lungs, was second!

A five minute rest in the sun waiting for the rest of the hash and a fine pint of Arkells replenished the lost fluids.  A superb hash covering more hidden delights of the local area.

However… if only I had been a little more perceptive … Founder Mike being assisted to lay a hash .. hushed conversations in the pub between the GOM, the previous GOM, and the previous previous GOM … Ah yes, it was the start of the initiation …. and Brian made it!

Long may you Rain over us as GOM, Brian!

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