Date =                            Sunday 8th December 2013

Run Number =            1533

Venue =                        A car park!  Then the Star.

Location=                     Bishops Stortford

Beer =                            Brains Craft Yankee Dougal

Hares =                         Paxo

Runners =                    11

Virgin =                          0

Visitors =                       0                                        

Après Hashers =         0

Newies =                       0

Hounds =                      0

Total =                          11

Membership =             On half a Trail & not shopping!!


Mr X & My Lil’ got off of the Train at Bishops Stortford station, they were shocked to see that Sloppy Seconds getting off of the carriage behind theirs!  He had actually taken Public transport as well, which was not bad for someone who drove to the gate when he lives only a few hundred yards down the Hill when he was the Hare!

The Trio walked the P–arrow route the Hare had set out of Station road to pass by the Rose & Crown, then an arrow took them down to the edge of the River Stort Navigation, a turn to the north took them along the tow-path until the waterway went to pass beneath Hockerill Bridge, there the p-arrows directed them up a concrete ramp to the level of the link-road.  Heading anti-clockwise for a hundred yards to a crossing at one of the sets of lights on this dual carriageway, over the crossing & the Trail took them over toward the edge of the park area where the Castle grounds sit.

Following the arrows around the arcing road, these three could see Paxo in his lime green day-glo top up ahead of them at the next set of lights, these were opposite the end of Bridge Street on one end, where the Star was to be found later on, & on the other end it was next to the entrance to the car park nearest the Castle.  While the few out on this sunny morning gathered for the start of the Trail, Paxo seemed to be animated by the entrance & using his mobile, the RA then checked his own phone to discover that he had missed a call from Sparky.

Paxo spent a fair while trying to explain to Sparky [though that he spent 40 minutes doing that the week before? – Ed] how to reach the car park in the shadow of Waytemore Castle’s Motte, (Saxon for ‘ambush marsh’ though some now think that it is Old Norse for Boggy place!) where the rest of the pack were starting from, eventually, after Paxo waved frantically to flagging him down, Sparky finally arrived so the GM could get on with the welcoming circle.  Sludge didn’t hang about & welcomed the Hash, while Sparky faffed about sorting himself out in his car.

The intro’s over & the Circle was handed over to the Hare, Paxo said that the Trail was mainly on chalk, with a few blobs of flour!  That was about it & the Hash were directed away over one of the a green areas before the river Stort, Sludge & Tent Packer were soon off up the footpath beside the river.  My Lil’ & Mr X though that the Hare would have taken the Hash over the large fallen willow tree that spanned the gap from the west bank to the east, as that is what they would have done but the Hare hadn’t been so adventurous.

The Trail headed northward up to a CHK by a footbridge over the Stort, Tent Packer & Sludge crossed over this but would soon be back after finding a T, meanwhile My Lil’ & Mr X continued along northward on the west side of the river & were soon up to another CHK by another bridge spanning the Stort in the Park.  Mr X fell for the Falsie out to the west, he eventually found the T at the end of the narrow alley in to the residential area.  At least Mr X didn’t feel too gutted on his way back, as his calling managed to drag all of the rest of the Pack down there was well!

Back at the CHK & the Falsie out over the Stort to the football pitches in the east was found, no one really searched any further up to the north, which was very fortunate for the Pack as the Hare would later revel that this was a long falsie!  Instead, Tent Packer, Sludge & Sparky were soon on to the Trail as it was found in the park on the east side of the Stort.  The arrows directed the way on the tarmac path heading away southward over the former marshland, cleverly unseen from right across from the path the Pack had come up!

My Lil’ & Mr X crossed over the footbridge & soon passed by 2-1-2 Maureen, then up ahead of them they could see Sparky, Tent Packer & Sludge all come to a sudden halt, then the FRBs made their way back along the path a short way to Trail peeled off on to a hardcore path that leads over toward the ornate new footbridge over the railway line at the back of the football pitches.

Arrows directed the FRBs around the base of the structure to the flight of steps nearest to the soccer pitches, then once up on the top of the bridge the arrows then pointed them back southward to the set of steps at the other end!  Looking out from the top of the lofty bridge Mr X, My Lil’ & Sloppy Seconds could see Tent Packer, Sparky & Sludge having cut out this bit & all making their way southward over the fields!

Again Mr X & My Lil’ passed by 2-1-2 Maureen as they tried to catch up with the other FRBs, this they achieved at the next CHK when Sparky & Tent Packer continued on over the fields on the west of the line, while Sludge took to going through the tunnel under the main-line to Cambridge.

Fliptop & 2-1-2 Maureen were soon up with rest as the Trail was discovered on the east side of the Railway line.  Out of the tunnel & the Pack found themselves at the right-angled corner of the footpath running behind the homes of Cannon’s Drive, where they almost back up to the railway line.  Sludge came back from finding a Bar CHK up the eastward side of the path, so the rest tagged along as he now headed northward between the railway embankment & the back gardens of the homes.

After a 45° turn in the paths course, the Pack found themselves running out on to the residential Cannon’s Drive, there an arrow pointed the way southward down the residential road, the Trail would lead the Pack out of the dog leg of Cannon’s Close then on to the main Stansted Road, there a CHK was found but it didn’t take long for the Trail to be picked up southward on a route back toward the town.

As the Pack came down to a point across from All Saints, in the Hockerill part of town, an arrow directed the FRBs over to a CHK by the Church.  My Lil’, Sludge, Tent Packer & Sloppy Seconds all went up the steps in to the Churchyard but didn’t find a thing, meanwhile the RA chose to investigate the alleyway at the north end of the walled churchyard, but this only turned out to be for access to the back gardens of the nearby homes.

On his way back down the main road, the RA saw Sparky standing at the road side & waving his horn in the air [Whoa there Pebbledash! – Ed] at the other FRBs to indicate that he had found Trail leading up the narrow Manor Road.  With no horses or livestock around here, it may have been easier for Sparky to have blown his horn? [Not again Pebbledash! – Ed] 

The Keenies followed the Trail up the rising Manor Road to the east, & then around the 90° turn to the right to head southward along the street lined with cars parked on either side of the road, many of these were parked partly on the footpath.

Suddenly Sparky stopped ahead of the rest as he found a T, so it was an about turn to lead all the way back down to the Stansted Road, some of the Keenies were quite alarmed to see a little girl run out from her terraced house & then dash out between two parked cars without looking, & then head over to where her mum was walking in to the school grounds.

            Back on the Stansted Road & a set of arrows had mysteriously appeared to direct the FRBs back over the road, the FRBs all obeyed the Green Cross code to safely get over the busy road & follow Dust down in to Kings Court, they would now catch up with the Hare, 2-1-2 Maureen & Fliptop with Lucy & Winston as the Trail took to the path between the homes on Kingfisher Way, which has a lot of new builds almost fitting in around an area that still has the old Maltings buildings there.

            The Trail now came out on to Hockerill Street, on the Causeway, where it crossed the Stort.  A few looked over the road at the clock upon one of the older Bishop Strotford businesses to see the hands on its face said that the time was a quarter to twelve, but this was wrong as everyone else’s watches told the time as being half past eleven!   There were a few shocked words about the Trail being the shortest of the year, and just as short as the one Junior set in Buntingford a few years ago when that Hare succumbed to the lure of the Pubs being open!

A simple task of following the link road around back toward the Castle remained, the Dust broke away from the traffic to pass behind the War Memorial, it was here that Tent Packer said to the RA “Where’s this Castle then?” to which Mr X replied “It’s that large green mound just there!” as the Trail led up to the old Motte, of the former Motte & Bailey castle.

            There were calls for those behind Sludge & TBT OBE to follow the whole Trail, which was just a small loop around the hedged area & tennis court, which a few wondered if William the Conqueror would have used when he reinforced the Castle!  Then it was up to the Motte, which may have began life as a Saxon Buhr or a Celtic Barrow, before the Normans made it in to a Castle.  Later King John would improve things.

Sloppy was all in favour of climbing the steps up to the top of the Motte, which no longer had a keep on top, just a few ivy clad stones of the foundations remain there, but the low iron gate was chained up with a padlock. 

The castle remained in use up to the civil war, where it was used as a prison.  There have been excavations of the site, where some roman coins were discovered & more interestingly human remains that suggest that there may have been a medieval hospital on the site, all this was carried out by the wonderfully name local historian JL Glasscock! [Pebbledash! – Ed]

            Some of the Pack changed in the car park, the RA & Hare raiser thought better of it when they spied that TBT OBE was relieving himself up against someone’s white transit!  No doubt it was all captured on CCTV?

The Pack made their way over to the Star, but had a half hour wait for it to open, so some had to loiter outside the Bar [Not that they have never down that before!  [Mr X, remember Stirling with Olymprick? – Ed] As they Pack gathered outside in the street, the overly efficient TBT OBE busied himself by collecting the subs!  Kylie then appeared after he had a late start, & he said that he had missed out a lot of the Trail, to which he was so informed that he didn’t as it was only a half hour Run!  Kylie then decided to set off to work on his new Train [Has he told anyone about this? – Ed] though he did hesitate & pondered staying a bit longer when the mention of food was mooted, but he set off.

The Pack settled in to the Pub, where Mr X’s CAMRA card earned them a 20% discount, plus there was a collector’s card toward a free pint or three.  Those in the Pub looked at 2-1-2 Maureen & wondered where all the Harriette’s were, as Paxo had promised that there would be shopping available after the Trail for the Girls at the Christmas Market.

Paxo, was grateful to those who did turn out, & he bought them several bowls of chips [If only Kylie had stayed on a bit longer! – Ed] which was rather nice before the Down-Downs.  The question of which local charity the Herts Christmas card fund should go to this year came up, all those gathered agreed that it will be the Herts & Essex Air-ambulance as TBT OBE may need it one day with his record of falling over on Trail!

When it came to the Down-Downs the Hare was awarded his for the shortest Trail of the year.  Sloppy Seconds was out for actually using Public Transport & this would knock one of the eight Down-Downs he has in lieu, [Only seven left now Sloppy! – Ed] 

Tent Packer had his hit for asking the RA where the Castle, was when he was right in front of the big green mound!  Finally the Hashit, this was awarded to Sparky, after the RA claimed that he couldn’t get a 10 pence piece in the ticket machine at Hertford east, only to find that it was a 50 Dirham coin from Qatar.  Deducing that he got this in his change the previous week, he could eliminate TBT OBE & Tent Packer from the equation to leave just Sparky who has been to Qatar.  Sparky protested, so the RA said that he still should get the Hashit for being dressed after the Trail as Gary Player’s dad.