Weather report: warm and humid, cloudy with sunny intervals, light winds. A good day for hashing, you would think, but only 11 stalwarts appeared at the start. Was it the threat of hills? or is it the holiday season taking its toll? And there was only one hare – Popeye – apparently Olive Oyl was hors de combat on account of spending last night running a marathon in the dark along the South Downs Way!
Popeye explained that he’d covered 8 miles laying the trail, but not to worry because some of that was due to having to re-lay the early part of the trail to avoid us running along the potentially dangerous cycle tracks through these woods. Elf ‘n’ Safety would be proud.
So we set off, inevitably climbing one of the many hills in these parts – the Lambdown hill. Though a straight-forward path, the pack was quickly confused because of the artistic expressiveness put into some of the flour marks. You wouldn’t think there were so many ways to put down a blob – is it a falsie?... and that check point looks like a swan at take-off...
Just before the top of the hill we came to our first fish-hook – for 7 (Popeye must have expected a bigger pack) so it’s easier to report who wasn’t caught – Splasher, Snake Charmer, The Panda and Sinbad.
What happens after you have climbed a hill? Naturally the trail immediately descended again – the long descent down the Monarch’s way towards Stoughton. So long that Popeye resorted to placing an arbitrary check point in the middle when the only alternative possibilities were through the barbed wire lining both edges of the path. We turned right at the only junction and followed the new track down to the road.
Bambi knows this area well and he correctly predicted the trail would turn left along the road and then right off it again to climb the next hill into Inholmes Wood. Bambi then proceeded to live up to his name bounding and skipping up the hill, virtually checking out the next 2 checks all by himself before anyone else caught up. The rest of the pack was a little slower which allowed late-comer Bika (and Aragorn) to catch us up at this point.
Another long stretch along the ridge led to another fish-hook, this time catching Bika, The Ref, Kinky, Bambi, The Panda, Dag, and Snake Charmer. Splasher did his usual stunt of coming to a halt when he saw them approaching... and he didn’t get the hash-it for it!
The trail then descended the steep hill down to Wildham Barn, where the warning sign told us to slow down (how did they know we were coming?), and back to the road just a few yards away from the chariots. But no, Popeye had a sting in the tail for us, crossing the road and looping round onto the out trail before returning to the cars.
In the circle Bambi thanked Popeye for the trail, and then lined up the hash-it nominees: The Panda for not completing the fish-hook according to the rules (but there are no rules); Flash for courteously inviting The Panda to go ahead when he realised a fish-hook was coming up; but the award was given to Dag for having a shaky hand apparently (don’t ask me, I haven’t a clue what this was about). I think the hash-it should have been awarded to the farty horse that left us in no doubt what he thought of our larks!
On-on to the Barley Mow for a well earned drink in their quiet garden. (Well, quiet apart from Belle and Aragorn letting off steam and trying to knock over innocent young bystanders.)
On On! Kinky