Date = 10th April 2016
Run Number = 1671
Venue = The
Robin Hood ‘Orn
Location= St Albans
Beer = JHB; DoomBar
Hares = Mr X
Runners = 14
Virgins = 0
Visitors = 0
Après Hashers = 0
Newies = 0
Hounds = 2
Total = 16
Membership = Wishing Grease Lightning a Bon Voyage!!
This morning’s Hare was feeling the effects of a long day on the Saturday, with a late Kick Off he didn’t get the time to go around the Trail & set it on the Saturday, so he opted for going around the Trail at 09:30 that morning. Those who managed to make it, found that the parking wasn’t that bad in the street & all got to be within yards of the Robin Hood Pub. While gathering outside of the front window of said Pub, Fliptop pointed out a small sign that read “Weekend Opening 1 PM!” Mr X wondered if he was in Oxford at UK Nash Hash?
Just for My Lil’s benefit, the Hare had placed a CHK right outside of the Robin Hood, this would lead to the anticipated grumbling from My Lil’ - which the whole things was designed to do. Anyhow, with no GM or JM present, it was down to the RA to welcome the Pack to the correct Run Number, & also to welcome back Grease Lightning on what will be her last Herts Hash before she heads home to South Africa.
Being the Hare, Mr X didn’t bother leaving the Circle as he then went on to explain what the Pack could expect to find out on the Trail. The usual markings of Flour & one-sided arrows were mentioned, plus a couple of Held CHKs & the most important thing that the Trail wasn’t that long!
Without further ado the Pack all set off to the east, My Lil’ was still grumbling as the Pack passed by local Iceland store & around on to Alma road where the Trail was picked up. The Pack followed the Trail to the opposite end of the suburban street to find a CHK outside of the Tyre-Centre, complete with Bibendum peering out of the window. [Bibendum gets his name from the Latin for 'Drink & is the name of the Michelin Man! – Ed]
Alfa Male went off down London road in the wrong direction, while the rest picked up the Trail over the roundabout & up by the Great Northern Pub, then the Oddesy Cinema which was recently restored to its former glory by the people who run the restored one Berkhamsted.
Kylie said that he always gets Art Deco & Art Nouveau mixed up, as he Fliptop & Mr X passed by the Art Deco Cinema, Mr X said that the last Film he saw there was Turner & Hooch, which dates things! At the corner of the cinema are a set of steps leading down & then around a 90° degree turn to come out on to Lower Paxton Road behind the cinema. On the way descent Mr X said “Has Junior been here?” as he avoided the vomit on the steps to the dead-end of Lower Paxton Road. Ironically Junior was over in St Albans that day as he was listening to a friend of his play the Bagpipes in St Albans!
The Trail turned to the northwest as it head up Paxton Road, lined with its small terraced houses until the Pack reached the top where a CHK was found on the T junction with Watson’s Walk. It didn’t take too much for the Trail to be picked up down the hill to the south, away from London Road, where at the roundabout junction of the Old London Road double arrows directed the way over to the west.
Alfa Male, Max Factor, Grease Lightning, Sparky, Sludge, Tent Packer & My Lil’ were soon on the next CHK on the corner of the junction with Keyfield Terrace, home to the White Hart Tap, the Trail would be found on around by the White Lion & across from the Hare & Hounds. Fliptop took time out to wander over the road to the Hare & Hounds to see what they had on in there. All these Pubs are pretty good for Real Ales.
Alfa Male came back from being off Trail down Cotton Mill Crescent, while Max Factor & My Lil’ came back from their equally barren of flour choice down to Bardwell Road to get back on to Sopwell Lane. Tent Packer & Sludge picked up the Trail as it led on down a CHK halfway along Sopwell Lane, that sat below the First World War Memorial that is set in to the wall of the terraced homes, the names on the plaque were those of the men from that one small street who perished between the 1914-18 conflict.
The Pack found the Trail up beyond the Goat & on under the overhanging eaves of the old timber-framed wattle & daub building that is now home to a Tax Specialist Company, My Lil’ said that they would no doubt advise you to squirrel your millions away in Panama? A Held CHK was found on the corner where this building sits as the narrow lane comes out on to the side of Holywell Hill.
It didn’t take the Pack long to regroup, but it was enough time for Mr X to point out another War Memorial set in a wall across the busy Holywell Hill, this too had a wreath of red poppies hanging from it. Max Factor said that a few of the Hash seen the previous Memorial, then Mr X allowed the Pack to start looking once again just as the Cathedral’s bells began to start a peel.
While My Lil’, Max Factor, Alfa Male & Sludge to name a few started to head off down Holywell Hill [Everyone knows the ‘golden rule’ of never check out downhill! – Ed] the Trail was found up the steep incline & over the crossing to move on up into Sumpter Yard, which is a cobbled entrance up to the southeast ‘Lady Chapel’ end of the Cathedral, this is the oldest part of the Cathedral dating from 789 when construction began under King Offa of Mercia in dedication to Britain’s First Christian Martyr on an earlier site.
Just to the right of the Lady Chapel another CHK was found. Fliptop & Sparky’s advantage of being among the first to this CHK was soon lost as they headed out by the Cloister Gardens & on through the small shopping arcade toward the High Street, it was Tent Packer & Grease Lightning who went through the open gate in the wrought iron railings & found the Dust on along the north side of the Cathedral. On this side of the Cathedral grounds, by the North Transept, late Bishops & Arch-Bishops are buried, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie.
Out of the gate at the north-western end of the Abbey Grounds a CHK was found, Grease Lightning & Fliptop went over to the small green space that a couple of information-boards, though reading these was unnecessary as Mr X told the story of George Tankerfield who was burnt at the Stake on that very spot under Queen Mary’s Reign, in those days the crown changed between Catholic & Protestant, resulting in the incumbent monarch’s ministers burning & executing those of the other faith, what jolly days they were back then?
When the Trail resumed it was through the large Gateway archway of the St Albans school this ancient building has been used for many things as well as a School, including a Goal & the place where the third printing press was set up in the UK. A plaque on the wall explained this.
The old lane lead down by the Abbey Grounds & then branched off to the right to end up by Ye Olde Fighting Cock’s & in front of the old mill stream a Held CHK was found, Mr X used this respite to explain to Grease Lightning that this was the area of the Roman City of Verulamium, pointing out the Roam Walls behind him in the parkland.
Mr X then went on to explain that ye Old Fighting Cocks is one of the Pubs that claims to be the oldest licensed premises in the UK, Tent Packer was quick to get in that Ye Olde Trippe to Jerusalem also claimed that accolade! Mr X said that as the Hash weren’t in Nottinghamshire, it was Ye Old Fighting Cocks!
On over the bridge that the lake water flows under on its return over a weir to the Ver, these ponds were originally constructed for the Abbey Monks for a supply of fish, most notably for their Friday meal. The park was bustling with families out feeding the noisy wildfowl, plenty of swans, ducks, moorhens & coots being attracted by the offer of free food, a bit like some of the Hash who you can bet on turning out at such an offer of après Trail grub.
While My Lil', Sludge & Tent Packer searched back up on the bottom end of the Abbey grounds, Fliptop who had earlier moaned "I suppose I'll take the wrong way!" was wrong as he did choose the rightful path. Only a short way in to the corner of the park before the Trail was found on a desire line of a path dropping down through the trees & bushes in the Corner of the Westminster Lodge field to run along by the river Ver as it flows south-eastward toward the bottom of Holywell Hill.
It was a far more comfortable trot along for the Pack as the tarmac was left behind for the softer grass along by the Ver. A CHK was found near to the wooden footbridge by the edge of the A5183, Holywell Hill. Max Factor, Alfa Male, Grease Lightning, Kylie & Sparky all headed down to the crossing & once on the east side of the road all were lured away by Sparky down Prospect Road, ironically there was no prospect of finding any Dust down that route!
Meanwhile Fliptop, My Lil' & Sloppy Seconds took advantage of local knowledge [Hang on, Sparky lives in St Albans, that must be local enough? - Ed] & they cut across before the crossing’s island to pick up the Trail over beside the bridge. On taking the next section of footpath leading on beside the Ver, Fliptop was not impressed by the sight of a shopping trolley dumped in to the Ver by the bridge, stating “We’re not in Hatfield!”
The pack were back on mud as the first part of this path had some great Shiggy, then having clambered over the iron footbridge which diagonally spans the Ver things became a lot drier. The Hash would pass beside the old swimming pool which is home to St Albans Sub-Aqua Club & out on to Cottonmill lane.
The Hare arrived to see that a few of the FRBs were starting to be led astray by Sludge, who had scuttled over Cottonmill lane to carry on of Trail over beside the Ver, he had ignored the arrows directing the way beside the allotments & along the road to the southwest, before directing the Hash over to the Sopwell Gardens green space for a trot through the ruins of the former Nunnery, which was torn down & rebuilt as Lee Hall after the dissolution of the Abbey Monasteries in 1539, a was found CHK just through one of the old internal doorways.
It took a while for the Hash to cotton on to the fact that Sludge was on the right Track before he was spotted trying to Short Cut, eventually they realised that they would leave the grounds of the ruins to head back over to the banks of the Ver on the ‘Ver Valley Walk’ footpath.
The footpath would take to the wooden duck boards that lifted the walkers above the marshy reed beds, Mr X said that it was far more fun before this wooden walkway was constructed as the original path’s route it follows used to plough through the boggy land, & Herts had used it a few times over the years.
At least in the days before the wooden walkway the numerous dog turds littering the wooden floor would not have been noticed & far less dangerous if trod in to the wet ground! Sparky was now leading the way, with Grease Lightning not far behind, & unlike the cyclist, who rode through one of the larger turds, these two managed to get through this doggy-minefield unscathed, after this they ran on by more local allotments on the opposite western bank to the Watercress Wildlife Area.
The next CHK was found beside the steps up the bridge that the former Hatfield to St Albans line used to run on, Sparky carried on under the dark blue brick archway that allows the Ver to continue in its journey to join the river Colne. In Roman times this chalk-bed River was navigable, watercress was a staple crop in Hertfordshire with its preference for growing in chalk streams & rivers!
Tent Packer & My Lil’ thought more of it than following Sparky under the Alban Way, instead they climbed the steps up to the level of the former Railway line that shut in 1960’s. My Lil’ knew that the Trail would turn to the left & head north-eastward the short distance of a few yards to a CHK under the tree that Tent Packer reminded Max Factor she climbed up on a previous Hash.
A few went wrong by taking the steps down to Riverside Road but this would prove fruitless, also by now the Hare had realised that Sparky was missing & on his own ‘Manor’! Grease Lightning, Alfa Male & Kylie all came up the steps & joined the rest in running along by the estate near to the old London Road St Albans Station
Just beyond the old Station, there was another hold up, this time where an interactive information sign on the former Railway is located by the bridge for the main London Road. Conveniently a CHK was located there by the steps up to the main road but no one seemed interested in that particular climb.
Instead the Trail continued under the large dark blue/grey brick bridge, Mr X pointed out the little finishing touches of the ornate brickwork around the very edge of the arch, something that no rail passenger would have really noticed on the journey to & from Hatfield!
Sparky finally caught up & was full of woe about the Trail, even when Fliptop mentioned that Sparky lives in St Albans & ought to know where he was, it seemed that his getting lost was the Hare's fault? The Hare was having none of that!
The Hare went on to mentioned the chalk graffiti under the bridge, admitting if he had the time to clamber up the earthen bank he would have added ‘Kylie 4 Milf’, but he had second thoughts on this which was probably a good thing for on the other side of the bridge the Alban Way had some rather larger 'Comedy Cocks' scrawled on the tarmac floor!
Tent Packet was now leading the Pack north-eastward toward the former Salvation Army Halt on this line, a stop were the War-cry & other religious publications were loaded on the trains from the printers there. It pleased the Hare no end to see this as Tent Packer led the way down the only False Trail he had set on the whole of the Trail!
So, for some they had to come back to the footpath that zig-zagged a couple of times on the embankment, this had the Pack passing a sign that read 'Footpath to station', this eventually straightened out to head northward & on through the area of new apartments, somewhere surprised how many had been built there.
Having passed through this, the Trail led over the access road & on to the final Held CHK of the Trail. Here Mr X pointed out the Cream & Burgundy signal Box [Officially known on the Midland Railway as Rhubarb & Custard! - Ed] This was the destination for the Hash after the Circle.
Mr X also added that the land to the east of the Held CHK was the former grounds of the St Albans Prison, only the front remains but the replacement units behind the flats have been lovingly made to look like they are a part of a prison! Its most famous claim to fame is that the opening credits & parts of the episodes of TV's Porridge were filmed there in the early 1970's.
Time to move on & having passed the On Inn & moved around on to the railway bridge on Victoria Street the Hash crossed over the main line to Euston, perched on the other side of the bridge is one of the smallest shops in the world, once a Clock & Watch repairers, it’s now a sewing shop!
A quick look in the Horn to see what Ales were on, which wasn't a bad thing for having looked at going to the Victoria, just up the road from the Robin Hood, this too wasn't quiet open, so a trudge back to the 'Orn was in order.
Sloppy took seemed reluctant to take up the RA's duties, but with a leaver, a 700 run achiever & a Hare who wouldn't say no to a JHB he finally got up to sort out the hits.
The Circle was called outside in the small walled in patio garden, the Hare was rewarded for his Trail that took an hour & 5 seconds according to Sludge's GPS. My Lil' said that it would have been 10 seconds less than an hour if we had stopped at the 'Orn to start with!
Sludge was out for completing his 700th Herts Run! Max Factor was out for the terrible unsynchronised singing from the Circle, since she is now Hash Choir Master, she delegated her Down-Down to Alfa Male.
Finally the Hashit went to Grease Lightning, probably as she has never been awarded it before. At least it was dry when it came to her turn in wearing the Hashit.
There were plenty of pics taken before we finally say goodbye to Grease Lightning at the Rugby. The circle finished & it was time to go around to the St Albans South Signal Box.
It was pretty impressive [For the Train Buffs! - Ed] with the work the volunteers have done in restoring what was a dilapidated old signal box that was although a listed building was probably going to be left to fall down.
Three of the Herts Hash donned their EWSH3 hi-vis jackets for this Railway inspired tour. Kylie was none too impressed with a comment on miniature railways, he may be over it by now?
But the free tour was actually very informative & even Kylie learnt somethings as well as having a go at throwing operating the levers to change the signals.
The volunteers have done a splendid job, good enough to win a prestigious award when up against two Network Rail owned Signal Boxes! Well worth a visit.