|15 Sep 2019||Margaret & John||Mike|
There are certain hashes that stand out in the illustrious history of our Kennet Valley Hash because they were different. Today’s hash from a pub next to Tintern Abbey in the Wye Valley, planned and set by Margaret and John, however, was rather more than ‘different’ – it was revolutionary.
Why was this? you ask.
Well, when John gave us the brief he explained that there was a trail – but that there were no trail markings to show where it went; no circles, no arrows or dots, no flour – not even an ‘On Inn’.
We stood there stunned trying to cope with the constitutional enormity of what we had just heard. We did have a trail once where there were no false trails and that took a bit of getting used to – but this ……….. ……… !
John explained that it would be no problem as he would be giving each of us a map which showed the trail clearly marked in purple. All we had to do was to follow the map and nobody would get lost – and anyway Margaret and he would be following the walkers and the runners respectively, all ready to put us right if we did. So we set off, full of optimism and determined to give it a go, across a playing field and then along a muddy track and up into the wild wood.
The trail led up the steep side of the valley and both runners and walkers’ trails led to a flat rock at the top of the valley called ‘the Devil’s Pulpit’ which, according to legend, was where the Devil used to try and tempt the monks in the abbey below to come up and join him. The monks apparently weren’t all that tempted – and we could see why: the track to the Devil’s Pulpit is about two miles directly up a muddy and incredibly steep boulder strewn path through dense forest to a point about 1,500 feet above the abbey. The short trail led directly up this path – and then back down again the same way, whereas the long trail went off in a four and a bit mile loop to the top and then along Offa’s Dyke Path to the Devils Pulpit and down.
Runners Keith and Brian and fast walkers Kevin and Julie and Simon and Ainslie and your scribe (who ran a bit but walked once we started to climb) were on the long trail and Annie and Kathy and Henry and Hilary and Chris and Johnny and Jan and Malc were on the short trail. Both the long and the short trails were genuinely challenging and some of the walkers had to give up and make their way back.
The runners found their way without too much trouble and got back to the pub in a little over two hours. The walkers, however, did get lost and were out for three and a quarter hours. It was strange not having the comfort of a couple of white dobs of flour every now and again to reassure us especially when confronted with a confluence of large and small paths pointing in all directions – and it was physically pretty challenging. Most people however enjoyed the challenge and pleased that they’d done it.
The Anchor is a very old pub with bits added over the centuries and it is set in a large area of open grass with ancient trees around the edge. We sat under one of the said trees when waiting for the walkers, and drank the world’s most delicious beer (the Wye Valley Brewery does, in my view, brew the best beer in the world) until the walkers eventually staggered in and then we retired into the oldest part of the pub where we had a room to ourselves for lunch. When all were seated Keith thanked Margaret and John for their remarkable trail which was greeted by applause, cat calls and laughter. Your scribe was awarded the Hash Horn by Julie for a reason I couldn’t hear (probably it was because she and Kevin had so much trouble in keeping up with me). The bags I think are still being embellished.
There were silly games on the green after lunch which Annie and I missed as we had to get back but I hear everybody enjoyed themselves in what has become another of our hash traditions.
What an amazing, different, and hugely enjoyable hash. Thank you John and Margaret.