|19 Jan 2020||Viv & John||Mike|
Our most prolific trail layers, Viv and John, came up trumps again today with a magnificent hash. It was one of those perfect winter days – frost on the ground, vast blue cloudless skies and everywhere bathed in brilliant sunshine. It made one feel good to be alive and to be there. The ‘there’ was Ashdown House, a National Trust stately home a couple of miles southwest of Ashbury village in the vast open glorious Wiltshire countryside below the Ridgeway. Our new friends from Shin Splints joined an encouragingly large number of regulars in the National Trust car park – a muddy space in the woods not far from the house – and we filled it completely.
Viv gave the brief – warning that the trail was longer than usual at a good 6 miles for the long and 3 for the short and that there were one or two quite steep climbs where the views from the top would be inspiring. We set off up through the woods to a wide grassy drive leading to the house and then out into open parkland in a loop where the house was frequently visible on our left. That was the easy bit. We then crossed the road and on to a footpath that led steeply up to the horizon. We plodded up, stopping now and again to admire lovely views and take a few photos, and when we reached the top we saw a valley and more hills ahead. At this point Henry, who had struggled that far, decided to turn back. He was with a few others, including Gentleman James, who loyally looked after him and took a short cut back to the car park with him. The other walkers took a path which curved round to the left down into a dip between the hills and then, at the long/short divide, climbed up to a high line of trees and then steeply down again, over the road and back via the grassy drive up to the house. Wonderful views and an exhilarating experience.
A fair few, including two Shin Splinters ran the long – which looped all the way onto the Ridgeway, passing Wayland’s Smithy. David, not only ran it, but also mountain biked to the start, then to the pub and hopefully then home again. He’s clearly much younger than he pretends. We also had a new lady join us, Sonia, who claimed she was a detectorist or something. She was good at uncovering the false trails but less so at finding the true route. Hopefully she’ll join us again soon as she was the first runner back. The others, including Jeremy and Des, returned shortly after the walkers in about an hour and 25 minutes.
There were at least four hardy souls who walked the long, Kevin and Julie as they usually do, and Ainslie and a friend – or was it her daughter?. They didn’t get back to the pub until half way through the après.
Those with smart phones reported that the long was just over 7 miles and the short just over 4 – but what a trail and what a day!
We drove to the Rose and Crown at Ashbury for the après. When we arrived the place was heaving and nowhere we could be together, so your scribe went exploring and found a large empty room with a big table in the middle which the landlady kindly said we could use. We filled it and the après was interesting and fun with so many new faces to get to know and nobody having to leave early to eat lunch. We thanked Viv and John for yet another splendid trail; the horn and the bags were duly presented – and then we went home.