Date = 7th December 2014
Run Number = 1590
Venue = The Rising Sun
Beer = M IPA, Totem, Riser
Hares = Sparky
Runners = 6
Virgins = 0
Visitors = 0
Après Hashers = 0
Newies = 0
Hounds = 1
Total = 7
Membership = Run to the Hills!
The trio of TBT OBE, My Lil’ & Mr X waited out the front of the Rising Sun by Berkhamsted Bottom Lock No.55 on the Grand Union Canal, they soon became a quartet when the Hare arrived wearing a blue sou’wester of an outfit in the drizzle. It was on the cards that it would be a low, low turnout! A few absentees did pass on their apologies way in advance!
With no Grand or Joint Monkeys on parade, it was down to the RA to get the honours out of the way! The Hare mentioned a couple of things before losing the plot & missing loads of stuff out, [Double ended arrows comes to mind! – Ed]
Steeling themselves for a Sparky Trail, Mr X, My Lil' & TBT OBE were up for it, the latter should have been in finer fettle than the first two, who were still a little zombie-like after doing seven breweries on the ‘Bermondsey Beer Mile’ the day before with the F.U.K Full Moon!
Anyhow, the few started off with My Lil’ heading southward as the Hare had been spotted walking back from that way, Mr X went northeast ward & TBT OBE remaining at the CHK on the Lock, perhaps TBT OBE's inaction was due to his distain at the Hare placing a CHK on the stanchion of the Lock!
The RA picked up the trail up by Lock No.54, Berkhamsted Top Lock, with the Boat Pub beside it on the Grand Union Canal towpath. Dust was found, then on the otherwise of the bridge No.142 carrying Raven’s lane over the canal, some ¾ of a furlong from the start a long line of Dust was discovered, apparently the Hare laid these bizarre markings for Sludge’s benefit, but as Sludge wasn’t at the opening circle he would not understand that these were not Bar CHKs!
The Trail led on along the towpath to the northwest, the third canal-side Pub - the Crystal Palace, was passed by as the RA came to the end of this particular part of the northeastern towpath for the route turned on a hairpin climb up a ramp to the bridge for where Mill Street & Castle Street converge on to Station road. There was no sign of any Dust around this area, but there were no other turn-offs, unless you cut through the Pub car park.
From up on high, the RA could peer down over the bridge to see the others were slowly making their way along the towpath toward him. The Hare soon joined the RA upon on the bridge, Sparky declared “Is there a Check up here?” but there were no remains on the cover in the pavement, Sparky re-laid the CHK while Mr X crossed to the northwestern towpath running beside the small park of the Moor Recreation ground. Mr X found a little of the remains of the Trail & headed away by the Grand Union Canal, where a family were feeding the ducks, moorhens, swans & other waterfowl.
At least Mr X could be relieved that the T to indicate that this was a Falsie was still visible. Mr X indicted this was a Falsie, which meant the TBT OBE & My Lil’ had to turn around too, since they had been lured away by the RA’s calling. Back up to the bridge & Sparky was still rooted to the replacement CHK, but by now Lofty had turned up with Henry to join the Pack.
Off of Station road, My Lil’ & Mr X found an arrow as the Trail led through the single track, narrow, tunnel like bridge in the railway embankment leading in to Berkhamsted Station, once through to the opposite side of the tracks they encountered the first of the double-ended arrows, each with a ‘W & In’ written beside!
Then for the duo out at the front there were the long lines of Dust that look resembled Herts Bar CHKs to the uninformed! Of course when Sludge made it this far he would be really confused & after a couple of non Bar-CHKs he decided to quit & head back to the Pub.
The Out & (Walkers) Inn Trails both headed away on Brownlow road as it heads up along the western edge of the grounds of the Old Berkhamsted Castle. The construction of this began in 1066 after William the Conqueror [Or William the Bastard if you’re Scottish! – Ed], having defeated Harold was met here by Archbishop Ealdred, the Bishops of Worcester & Hereford, Earls Eadwin & Morcar, as well the most important men of London, who swore allegiance to him then offered him the crown. [Seems they knew he would take it anyway! – Ed] William proceeded to London where he was crowned king on Christmas Day 1066.
Just beyond the in the north eastern corner of the Castle grounds, at the point where Brownlow road splits, an arrow & then a long line of dust indicated that the Trail crossed over the road & headed off northward to take to the footpath running through Kitchener’s Field, where Berkhamsted Cricket Club, Bowls Club & the Football Clubs all sit.
The Trail stuck to the lowest level in this valley as it passed below the higher fields were the soccer pitches are to the west, there was plenty of noise from the Footballers to mask the calls of Mr X & My Lil’ as they led the way out to the CHK on the crossroad with a footpath coming in over the fields from the New road way out to the east.
My Lil’ chose to pass through the hedgerow & take to the footpath leading away from the Sports grounds & up the long steady climb up the edge of the crop fields. He called “On!” just as the RA had discovered Trail in the lower field divided in to horse paddock, soon only one kept calling & that was My Lil’, for the RA just had a raised arm to indicate that he was really “On!” in order not to scare the grazing equines.
My Lil’ abruptly stopped calling as he found a T, but beyond this was another long line of Dust & a W, so he continued up to the top of the summit of the hill, some 150 ft. climb in height. Meanwhile Mr X found the next CHK at the end of the Paddock by the farm track from Well Farm, he correctly guessed that with My Lil’ not coming back &that the Trail would head up to the top of the Hillside.
Mr X was the only one to do this part of the Trail, probably as it is a far steeper climb up to the crest of the ridge, but at least the drizzle had gone by now & the sun was out in its full glory, the wind had also dropped as the Pack made their way up to the open & exposed plateau up the ridge.
Even on the gentler & longer climb, combined with the increase in temperature had the Hare sweating away & as the RA caught up with him, & the SCBs he was leading on the gentler assent, Sparky admitted that he was feeling hot. It was hardly a surprise as he admitted he was wearing some kind of thermal onesie, probably the type that old prospectors used to wear in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1849, you know the ones with a ‘cat-flap’ in the backside!
Anyhow, enough of Sparky’s cat-flap! Better thoughts, as the Pack could now look at the stunning view over the valley toward the Ashridge Estate. It was glorious, with all of the autumn hues being lit by the sun.
My Lil’ would now pull away from the rest of the Pack as he ran all the way to where a Held CHK was in the north, near to the memorial Bench for a couple named Stevens. My Lil’ failed to see the Held CHK & he was soon on to the west bound path over the wide expanse of crop fields, Sparky tried to call him back - as did the RA but My Lil’ was not for turning! My Lil’ kept going off to the southwest as the crop fields drop down some 115 feet in such a short distance as the valley drops away to the east.
Passing through a kissing gate to enter an enclosed green paddock, My Lil’ went wrong down in to the valley, or so he thought, while Mr X chose the correct option up the steep grassy hill. In the top northwest corner there was a faint CHK that the RA missed, instead he cut the corner to pass by a multi-tasking woman out with her baby in a buggy & walking a black lab.
Mr X headed off through a kissing gate & on to a footpath down beside the School playing field & on the opposite side a wooded area behind Berkhamsted Place, through which a Herts Trail had once gone before.
Having looked off in to the wood a couple of times, then further down the footpath to almost where it comes out on to the streets, the RA concluded that there was no Dust there & decided that he would head back up to the open field.
As Mr X headed back to the fields of New Farm, the Hare appeared on the footpath to bring him back. Unfortunately for Sparky he had the sun in his eyes & he failed to see a low bough of a tree, with no avoiding moves he struck the top of his head on the tree. It stopped him dead in his tracks.
Back up in the top field & there was no sign of the others, Mr X asked of their whereabouts but he couldn’t quite understand the Hare’s mumblings [May have been due to the whack on the head? – Ed] Mr X did get a bit about the woman out with her baby & dog helped Sparky out with directions!!!
Mr X was soon back on Trail away to the northeast, a direction that was away from the area of the On Inn, meanwhile the others had dropped down in the valley north of New Farm & were heading back toward the Sports Clubs. Back to the RA & for him it was a fairly dry trot along the hard-capped track along the School’s eastern perimeter, it was certainly drier than the wet grassy fields of earlier.
At the crossroads with a path from Longacre wood at Cornerfield, the Hare allowed Mr X to take a left turn & miss out a bit of the Trail further to the northeast & in to the beech wood. It was a nice shaded trot down from Cornerfield, so shaded that Sparky again hit his noggin, this time on a thin whippy branch by a set of steps.
Out of the wood & the Trail was picked up on a footpath running from the entrance to the School, this diagonal path cut through behind the houses to emerge out on to Bridleway road where the CHK there was no more, Sparky replaced it & then stopped as he was over-heating & needed to remove some clothing.
Mr X decided that he would avoid being next to a Stripping Sparky & he continued down the hillside to cross over the railway bridge & then the ‘Pipe bridge’ in quick succession, a hair-pin turn brought the RA back from the southwestern direction to northeastern for the short way up by the large pipe spanning the Grand Union Canal.
The Trail turned southeastward & it was now a long On Inn for the RA, as the Trail kept to the canal side. At least there were things to see along the way, starting with some fisher folk, then more narrow boats were moored up the nearer it got to the centre of Berkhamsted, it was 1 ¾ furlongs to Northchurch Lock No 51.
The towpath now ran between the canal & the river Bulbourne down below the embankment & on the opposite side of the thin tree-line. ¾ of a furlong later Mr. X passed by Northchurch Bottom Lock No.52, half a furlong later he passed beneath the concrete Park Street footbridge.
More waterfowl was also seen as the RA had a 1 ½ furlongs to pass under the wooden footbridge over to the Supermarket & Sports grounds, it was a further 1 ¼ furlongs reaching Berkhamsted Top Lock No.53 which was in use with a boat lowered down a level.
It was only a ¼ of a furlong before Mr X passed beneath the ornate wrought Iron black bridge, which stands out with a red decorative trim around the large panels! Beyond this the Trail come back out on to the Moor recreation ground. After 1 ½ furlongs later after he had climbed up Bridge No.141, Which bears a decorative plaque to Francis Egerton of Berkhamsted 1736 ‘The Canal Duke’ 1803.
Having crossed over the bridge & scurried down back down the hair-pin path on the opposite bank, Mr X finally saw another Hasher. It was here where he caught up with Lofty & Henry on the way down the tow path from the Crystal Palace Pub. One last bridge to pass beneath, as the Trail left the ‘Berkhamsted Port’ area on the canal, which has what still has a trading post there.
The small Pack found Sludge was already enjoying a drink & sitting outside in the Pub’s covered garden, the weather was that fine. Sparky arrived & said to the RA that he must have run all the way back? Which obviously Mr X did! Sparky then got the attention of the Landlord, for Sparky was not wearing any top & was bare chested. It was clear that Sparky was not allowed in until he was better dressed. It was also noted that with all of the layers of clothing Sparky did have out on Trail, the Hashit wasn’t one of them!!!
No Down-Downs took place, these would be saved for the following Herts Trail.