Describing a day as non-distinct would be too kind to the five degree battleship grey morning that made it difficult to summon up much enthusiasm for a romp through the countryside. Most people were jigging about trying to keep warm while despite shouts of 'get on with it' Flash insisted on a group photo and Bika squished some hieroglyphics out of his flour bottle in order to confuse us.
Once we got going there was ample opportunity to warm up on the several falsies that surrounded the on-out. As an aperitif the trail went south west up the road to the vast solar farm that overlooks the pub before circling down again via the short FP back to Lovedean Lane and up the hill towards Catherington, a bit like pigeons circle before choosing their heading.
As Sinbad and Old Faithful bashed on out front the rest of us were distracted by the number and variety of horses that are roaming the paddocks in this area. Many were wearing padded overcoats to combat the fridged conditions, although they might have been better off wearing ear muffs to protect them from discussions about the difference in flavour between beef and themselves.
Turning ever more northward towards the Down some were tempted to take one of two falsies to the east, notably OF, Snake Charmer and Olive Oyl who chose the very very long second.
On arrival at the southern end of the Down all the tempting access trails proved false although it was not long before the old timers remembered the way out to the main road in Catherington which goes right through the garden of a bungalow.
Popeye found the way north alongside the road to The Farmer Inn where the hares had laid their signature check. The hard to find true trail went out of the back of the pub car park before turning sharply north towards the church. Pancsi got the first part of this right but then running on autopilot he took the pack due east on the familiar FP without finding any flour.
Just before reaching the graveyard we had some fun negotiating a locked gate before recrossing the road and finally entering the Down to a regroup with a good prospect towards Hambledon.
The pack spread out all over the westerly slopes and took some time to happen upon a few lonely checks that eventually lead us across the Clanfield road and up the leg sapping climb towards Hinton Daubnay with Pancsi and Olive Oyl in the lead. Half way over, these two and four others (names not noted) had their energetic enthusiasm rewarded by reaching a dreaded fish hook that placed them at the back.
The way south and then south east was now a mere formality and we reached the on-in down the soft freshly harrowed fields after one hour and fifteen minutes of bracing hashing, although to me it seemed longer for some reason.
Once again many nominations were proffered at the circle, Old Faithful had been a bit premature at a regroup, Flash had re-run a checked falsie, Bambi had instigated a conspiracy at the fish hook, Thom had done a bit of short cutting. After a long and navel gazing moment Pancsi was awarded the Hash-It for his autopilot moment. Oh, yes the hares were thanked, and commended for the walker friendly route before we retired to see if it was as good as two in a bush, and it was!