Hash 406 – Sun @ Coate Water

Date Hare Scribe
31 Mar 2013 Maurice and Olly Jeremy

As GOM mentioned in his email introducing this hash, Coate Water was built in the 1820s to provide feed water for the Wilts and Berks Canal, so here’s a bit more info.

The canal itself opened in 1810 and provided a route from the Semington Junction on the Kennet and Avon canal through to the Thames at Abingdon. The initial main driver for its creation was the transport of coal from south of Bath to London.

The canal at one point skirted around the bottom of a small insignificant place called Swindon. Then in the 1840s the Great Western Railway came along, with Swindon chosen as the major works depot for the entire system. The works were built near the canal and eventually the town extended to encompass it. The railway, as elsewhere, eventually killed off the canal, and in the 1960s many miles of the the canal in the Swindon area were filled in. Instead Swindon got The Parade, Fleming Way, the Magic Roundabout and other similarly notable attractions.

Amazingly the Wilts and Berks canal is being restored, with the aim to complete the whole project by about 2025. Whilst re-instating the canal through the centre of Swindon could be considered a blessing, this is not going to happen. Instead a new section of canal is going to be created to skirt Swindon, running from the Acorn Bridge near Shrivenham, along below Wanborough to M4 Junction 15, then along the north side of the M4, nearly to Junction 16, before ducking south to rejoin the original route at the junction of Wharf Road and Hay Lane. This section will require some 12 locks and 9 bridges including under the M4, A419 and A4361. See the Wilts and Berks Canal website for more details.

For the hash itself Des and Tim both arrived with younger family members all of whom hopefully enjoyed themselves, with much of the front running done by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For me, the long trail was in an area I have known for many years, but often it was set along paths and tracks that I never knew existed. An excellent hash for the runners.

Mike decided to run the short and expected to be running on my own as Margaret was away but it turned out he had lots of company. Maurice and Olly had laid completely separate trails for the runners and walkers and both had put in plenty of false trails – so Mike was slowed by having to check a circle every hundred yards or so and was caught up by the walkers. He had some help from then on as, first of all, Malcolm found the right trail at one check and then a young eight or nine year old chap called Cameron found an On On on his own initiative and was so pleased at his success that he became Mike’s trail-finding assistant. They made a very good team and, despite an unusually large number of false trails, were soon well ahead of the walkers who, led by Annie, were moving along at a fair old pace – but Mike and Cameron were still back a good ten minutes before them.
The walkers trail was excellent; it looped across the fields that lie between Coate Water and the motorway and there was variety and interest and a very nice bit of humour as one false trail led us up that spiral-ended bridge over the M4 and there right at the top was a huge T. Mike’s mate Cameron thought that was dead funny.

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