Run No. 1493 17th March 2013
Venues: The Sportsman
Beer: Oakham Citra, Inferno; Windsor & Eton 440
Location: Croxley Green
Hare(s): My Lil’
Membership: Hippo Bidet to the Hare!
There wasn’t much of an effort from the majority of the regulars of the Pack to get over to the Sportsman for My Lil’s Birthday Trail, yep he was born on St Patrick’s day & we’re all surprised that he wasn’t named Paddy! The weather forecast for the morning wasn’t exactly inspiring & those who were tucked up in their little homes were vindicated in the fact to stay there in the dry.
Hyena & Mr X had just got off of the bus at Croxley Green tube, when the heavens opened up & the rain was so strong that the two were forced to take shelter in a shop doorway, there they sent out a request to be picked up & brought to the Pub. TBT OBE ventured out in his car & they were soon on their way to the Sportsman.
The Hare arrived back from setting the Trail & he looked like a drowned rat! By the time Sparky had stopped faffing around in getting ready for the Trail, then had a wee, wee, the JM finally was able to step in for the absent GM in welcoming the Pack to what would have been an extraordinary Run number before he corrected himself to get it right. Then the Hare was called forward to explain what the Pack could expect out on the Trail, busy roads to cross & the Trail was now set in dough was about all the Pack got.
The RA was happy to see that the few who had turned out were wearing green for St Patrick’s day, though most of this was covered by various waterproof, or semi waterproof outer garments. The RA even sported some shamrock, though this would be a little wilted by the end of the day!
The Pack were directed southward down the road, passing by the last of the shops to follow the road down & around to the west where it becomes Scots Hill road. The RA & Sparky were soon caught out as they followed Dust up a set of steps off of the start of the dual carriageway, the flight of steps leads up on to Windmill drive, a Bar CHK soon had them turning back to see Hyena & the Hare continuing on down Scots Hill.
Mr X was about to be caught out again, as he & Fliptop found the next CHK on the top end of dead-end Scots mill lane. They were soon down the short lane & off on to the footpath that leads out on the edge of the brown ploughed crop fields to the west, out on to the shiggy covered footpath they were stopped in their tracks by another Bar CHK! The Hare claimed that this was Mr X’s favourite footpath, after he had set a Falsie down there on a Trail last year & My Lil’ was caught out on it! [And they say that elephants have a long memory! – Ed]
A trudge up the flight of steps on the steep walled embankment lay ahead for Fliptop & Mr X, before passing through a gap at the end of the wall & back out on to the edge of the dual carriageway, where they could see Paxo & TBT OBE heading to the bottom of the Hill. By the time they reached the bottom, the Hare had already marked out an arrow to have the Pack cross over at the turning point between the two separate double lanes of the dual carriageway, near to the point that the river Chess flows beneath the road.
Once over the busy road the Trail took to a tarmac footpath running out behind the homes on the main road & by the embankment for the Metropolitan Tube line to Watford. The Trail followed the wide alleyway out to its end where it emerges on to the end of the High street where it joins the Scots Hill road. A CHK was found just beyond the rail bridge for the tube line. Paxo decided that he would cross over & come back up to the Scots Hill road, while Sparky was well away off up a footpath on the south side of the line as it heads westward to Rickmansworth station.
Meanwhile the RA headed off along Rickmansworth High street toward the centre of Town & he would fare no better than the other two, as a call of “On! On!” came back from the CHK after TBT OBE & Fliptop were on to the Dust down Caravan lane. This route didn’t look anything like having a footpath down there, but when the Hare set off that way they didn’t know the new builds of the industrial estate hid the fact that a footpath would be found at the end.
The Footpath started off with a nice surface, Sparky commented on this as he took to it along side the tube line to head eastward. The hardcore surface would soon disappear as the small industrial estate was left behind, now the path was hedged-in by the playing fields of the local school on the right-hand side, the Pack were faced with a track of shiggy that was only broken up by large puddles that covered the way!
The Trail crossed over the metal footbridge just above the gushing waters of the river Chess, the RA was surprised that the Hare hadn’t made the Pack go through the swollen & deep ford beside the bridge! At this point the Pack didn’t know what else would be in store for them!
Fliptop & Sparky were first to the next CHK at a junction where the uncapped Lavrock lane comes out of Croxley Hall wood on the north side of the Railway line, it was found beside the Bridge through which access is gained, only the RA went through the tunnel to the north side of the tracks to be led up & around to a T by some local allotments! Meanwhile Paxo & TBT OBE had caught up & were off in pursuit of Fliptop & Sparky as the latter two had found the Trail continuing eastward along below the underground line & beside the sports grounds to the right-hand side.
The going was slowed along below the line, for the shiggier side of the path was easier to run through than the supposedly drier & cleaner choice on the left of the path, there were a few slipped footprint skid marks to show that it was a bit treacherous under foot. The RA caught up enough to see Paxo up ahead of him, it looked like he was mincing about in his combat bottoms like Larry Grayson as he tried to dodge the large puddles of water spanning the route.
A CHK was found by where the farm track to Croxley hall Farm breaks away from the underground & mainline embankment to head diagonally over the open land to the Grand Union Canal, by now the rain had started to get heavier once again, it would be intermittent for the rest of the Trail.
The Hash came out on to the tow path by Lot Mead Lock, once they had avoided the large puddle that the RA said looked as if the canal had expanded! From the CHK on the towpath Sparky & Fliptop chose to go north-eastward on the canal side path, a wrong option as they would be stopped by a T!
Meanwhile, Mr X had chosen the southwest direction of the tow path & was heading down toward the old railway bridge over the canal, on the way he passed by a cyclist who had given up trying to ride through the deep shiggy along the way, the cyclist was impressed that the Pack just ploughed on through the deep wet shiggy!
The RA would now pull away from the others as he climbed up the set of steps to the railway bridge for what was once the Watford & Rickmansworth Railway, which is now a part of route 6 of the National Cycleway. Mr X found the Trail as it took to the nice level Ebury way, named after the Railway line that Lord Ebury had built in 1862. Unfortunately the line was a bit of a white elephant & within four years the official receiver was brought in. It was absorbed by the other Underground & National rail routes of the ‘Water Cress line’ that superseded it. This route was known as the Water Cress line due to the amount of commercial cress that was grown in the Chess valley & shipped in to London by train.
On the next long section of the Trail there was some shelter from the rain as the route of the former railway line has an avenue of established trees to create a decent canopy over head, along the way a proper runner ran toward Mr X & it was noticed that the civilian was doing a Paxo in trying to avoid the puddles along the way. The RA just ploughed through these as the path makes its way between the fenced off ‘Private’ fishing lakes on either side. Soon, on the right-hand side of the way, the lakes gave way to the industrial estates off of Tollpits lane.
Eventually the RA found a CHK by the gate in to Common Moor, an open area of wetland that is of Special Scientific Interest! Here Mr X ventured out in to the wetland, firstly negotiating the large area of water by the way in to the open space. Meanwhile Sparky continued further up the line on what was a Falsie!
At least the rain had eased as the Trail would now weave its way between the raised tuffets of wetland grasses, the Hare had made good use of the low, sunken areas of brackish water & he took the Pack through these. The RA was a bit tentative going through the first dark pool of water, but as he stepped in his feet didn’t go down as far as he thought that they would, after several more of these wet patches the Trail finally made its serpentine like route out to the edge of the river Gade, which runs beside the Grand Union Canal.
At the metal footbridge over the Gade a Held CHK was found, here the Pack would regroup after two long stretches, with the exception of Hyena who was well at the back by now, once Paxo & TBT OBE were with the other four, the Hare allowed the search to resume. The RA crossed the Gade & then the Grand Union to find a CHK just a hundred yards from the last one!
As he ventured off in to the bottom of Long Valley wood, Mr X was looking at the steep slope up on to the top of the wooded ridge, Fliptop asked if he knew something about the way the Trail would go? Mr X replied that he would take the pack up that route if he had set the Trail but it turned out to be too hard to scramble up in these conditions, the Hare later said that he too had considered taking that path but as time was getting on he decided not to go that way.
“On!” was called back by the Lock, Sparky was soon on along the towpath to the northeast, but this would be a Falsie that Sparky alone would run, after the rest took to the marked route just set out by the Hare. Now the Pack climbed up the tarmac hill on Mill Lane to emerge on to the Watford road, at the end of a parade of shops.
The Trail crossed over this main road & then headed westward in a direction back to the On Inn, but if the Keenies thought that it would be a direct route back, then they were all wrong. The Hare marked the Trail away from the main road to Winton way & he added a Short Cut to head along the main road, which he & TBT OBE took to.
The Keenies now followed the Dust off to the west by way of Springfield close, at the first corner of the round road a footpath was found & the Trail ran on this as it goes by the local tennis court to come out to a CHK on Barton way. Here a woman out walking her dog said the RA that the weather wasn’t nice to run in, the RA replied that he “wouldn’t take a dog out in this weather!”
The Rain had eased a bit by the time the Trail reached the Sports ground, here there was a playing ground where amongst the playground furniture are a series of upside down trees with their roots at the top! Further along & the Pack then passed by the social club where the RA & Hare Raiser had once attended the excellent Croxley Green Beer Festival. A CHK was found by the start of a footpath running away westward from the pavilion, there was some shelter from the now increasing rain fall as the tree lined path led on to another CHK, this one being by a short alleyway to the south.
The RA looked down the alleyway to spot the Hare passing by the end of Tussa Close, where it joins New Road. By now the Trail had taken a bit of a battering & it looked like the Hare was resetting the final part with fresh Dust. This was a simple affair of running southward down Yorke road & then out on to the Watford road to turn right & head back to the On Inn.
Needless to say that the Pack would not get changed outside, the warmth of the Pub was much more enticing! Having changed in to warm, dry clothing, the Pack then settled in for a couple of real Ales, Hyena made it back before the Circle was called. With only a small Pack this week, there wasn’t much the RA would award in the way of Down-Downs.
When the Circle was called, inside the Bar as it was still raining outside, the Hare was awarded his Hit for a good Trail of just over the hour, as well as it being his Birthday, he downed his hit to a hushed chorus. The other Hit went to Paxo for his mincing about on the Trail but Paxo struggled with his Down-Down & had to drink half of it after the Circle had finished!!!
The Pack enjoyed the range of Ales on offer, as well as being surprised by a real life giant leprechaun who arrived at the Pub, no the Pack wasn’t that p*ssed, it was just one of the locals had dressed up! TBT OBE then went on to say that no one else celebrates their patron saint like the Irish do? Well, we have celebrated the others on the Hash [Any excuse for a celebration! – Ed] & that there is even an All Saints Hash!