The West Stoke car park is a busy place on a Sunday morning and this morning was no exception. However with a bit of shoehorning and a steady stream of departures a sizeable pack managed to gather in time to start the customary ritual.
A hearty "welcome back" was extended to Shureshot, French Virgin and Stitchup, while the hares confused all of us by attempting to describe the markings to first time hashers, Andy, Phil and young Jacob.
There was a definite lack of purpose to start with, as many preferred to stay in the car park and natter until Sinbad who was really champing at the bit sounded as if he had found the flour, so we all headed south on the road in pursuit. The front runners made the not unreasonable assumption that the trail would soon head west into Stoke Wood, however they shortly returned with news of a dreaded dotty triad, while a more open minded group found the newly opened "permissible" path to the east into Lye Wood.
The bright blustery day lent to a stunning contrast between the dark green wood to our right and the blazing yellow rape flower to our left as we made our way out to Lye Lane and then north to a regroup at the village hall. We did not all get this far though, as Flash went lame and hobbled back to the chariots accompanied by Panda who would not go anywhere without him apparently.
Here the hares offered a choice of trail, for the over-fit a challenging climb, for the normal a level route to rejoin the trail at the nature reserve hut. Still being hors de combat I chose to accompany the Spiderpeople, Hash Angel, Shureshot, Soapbox and Pink Flamingo on the low road. As a result I cannot comment on what happened on the high road which was north up Inham's Lane, through Stoke Clump and then west at the next cross paths avoiding the really steep climb north to the top of Kingley Vale.
One assumes that there were some checks on this route however us less fitters were able to walk to the rendezvous AND wait around for fifteen minutes before the pack arrived, so perhaps they are not as fit as they think? The CCTV recording reveals that when they did arrive the FRBs were, Sinbad (by a long way), Canman, Dogwhistle, Buddy towing Snake Charmer, Old Faithful, Dr Blood, French Virgin .... then the rest, of course its NOT a race!
A few meanderings around the yews in the nature reserve soon reversed the running order as the pack headed south west down Bowhill Lane and Woodend Road into the heart of Ashling Wood. The few patches of bluebell that had so far been encountered were eclipsed here as the trail took in a couple of loops through dense carpets of vibrant blue and arrived at a regroup and photo call at the cross paths in the centre of Stoke Wood. Then a short canter through even more blue soon brought us home after one hour and fifty minutes of psychedelic hashing.
At the circle there was a big thank you for the hares and it was revealed that Jacob's pedometer had recorded 12,486 up and downs but you must remember that he only has short legs (for now). Kermit and Stitchup came in for an haranguing with a mention of their police like behaviour, something from the fit trail ?. Spiderwoman has the honour of carrying the Hash-It next, she made some remark about being forced to actually jog at some stage. Libations were taken at The Richmond Arms in West Ashling.