|9 Jul 2017||Margaret & John||Keith|
It has been a hot and very sunny few weeks recently (it’s not very often we can say that) and temperatures were meant to be coming down from highs of 30 degrees Celsius by today, to a more moderate 20 degrees -ish.
But when we arrived at The Crown and Garter it was scorching hot and clear that we were going to find it hard work out running.
We had passed many cyclists on our way to the hash, clearly participating in an event, and they were bravely fighting the stifling conditions as they sped along hot tarmac.
We assembled in the car park, but there was no sign of John or Margaret our hares, until around 2 minutes to 11am.
John quickly set about briefing the group. There was no need to explain flour signs to this experienced group of hashers, but there was plenty for John to make us aware of;
- A giant boot
- A beautiful garden with a dedication from a widower to his beloved wife who died after falling from her horse
- West Woodhay House
- A steep hill, at the top of which can be seen three counties ( Oxon, Berks and Wilts)
And …. I am sure there were more though by now some impatient walkers had declared their memories were too far gone to possibly retain so much information.
John (wisely in my opinion) dodged the question of “how far is the trail” and assured us walkers and runners would set off in different directions but the runners would loop around to rejoin with the walkers after “one and a half miles“.
There were seven runners altogether, and around a dozen walkers. Mike and Adam chose to run the short route. As we set off at 1105, the heat was rising, the fields shimmering in the heat haze and the few clouds there were did nothing to dampen the Suns’ intensity.
Fortunately we runners were moving through shady wooded areas for quite some time, which I prefer the most. But really, the whole trail was a belter, as our hares had been promising for some time it would be.
We found ourselves on country lanes with hardly any traffic, and we entered the driveway of the West Woodhay House as we thought the giant boot may be there (none of us could recall what John had told us regarding where it was) but it wasn’t, though the setting for this rather grand property with extensive grounds and lake, was idyllic.
And shortly after we came upon the Chapel of St. Laurence with the pretty, well-tended garden and dedication to the lady who met her end in a horse-riding fall at age 49.
The time by now was around 11.45 and still we saw no sign of the walkers we were due to rejoin at the 1.5 mile point. We had surely covered more ground already than 1.5 miles …. we continued on enjoying the lush gardens and lanes before heading out into a more open landscape of wheatfields and farm buildings that reminded me of some of Van Gogh’s paintings.
We climbed the steep hill to admire the views of the three counties and then across meadow and onto the lane where we met many numbered cyclists puffing up the lane in dribs and drabs, as we descended past them. I was with Dave, who gamely encouraged each one with ” well done! – nearly there!” Which sadly became a bigger lie the further downhill we ran. One told us they were cycling a hundred miles today and had, to this point, covered 55 – just 45 to go then.
For us it was a levelling off of the lane and a few minutes more back to the shady garden of the pub, and a well-earned pint, and later, on recommendation of our hares, very tasty roast dinner (in my case).
Margaret and John have something of a reputation for knowing really good pubs in very beautiful locations, and they did not disappoint today.
We never did see the giant boot though, and we only caught up with the walkers around 100 yards from the pub! And that was after being out for one hour forty minutes, and just under 7 miles. A fine trail, much enjoyed. Thank you Margaret and John.”