Date = 11th June 2018
Run Number = 1799
Venue = The Engine
Location = Baldock
Beer = mGreedy King & other expensive Fizzy Drinks
Hare/s = No Eye Deer
Runners = 13
Virgins = 0
Visitors = 0
Newies = 0
Après = 1
Hounds = 0
Total = 14
Membership = Sorry Bugs!
It was a really nice hot & sunny evening, Some of the early arrivals who took a chance on travelling by Train found themselves with 30 minutes to spare. Wanktlers, Mr X & My Lil’ had a quick drink in the much altered Engine, for those who had been in there before were surprised at the new décor as it has been greatly alters. I would say improved, but sadly the ‘improvements’ came at cost & that cost was that there were no Real Ales being served in Greedy King’s attempt to make this Pub into a Craft Beer venue, the other cost being the lack of choice amongst the overpriced beers [Over half were £5 a pint! – Ed]
Having overcome the shock of the prices, the trio sat out in the back garden waiting for the rest to arrive. Mr X received a call from Ketchup to say that he was at Stevenage Station, where the connecting Train he was expecting had been cancelled! Mr X said that he would make sure that the Hare marked the Trail as Ketchup was still going brave it out to try & catch a Train up to Baldock.
The small Pack assembled around the bench that some of the Hash had already found to be of comfort until the Circle was called on this small green between the main road & the two side streets of the Icknield Way & Football Close. Right there No Eye Deer had drawn out the first CHK, much to the disbelief of My Lil’ who has an abhorrence of starting a Trail from a CHK right outside of the Pub! Kylie did point out that it was the few feet away being on the opposite side of the road to the Pub!
Sludge had to stand in for the missing GM, & the Hash Hen (who was away shooting, with Ewok) Sludge didn’t have much of an issue when it came around to the Run Number of 1799 [Yes we will have some kind of proper celebration later on when the committee have time to spend on it! – Ed] No Eye Deer was called forward as the day’s hare, her ‘Chalk Talk’ included that there would be a Sweet Stop, a short cut near the end was of interest to Skip as he sorted out his Nordic Ski-pole walking stick.
Without further ado the Pack were encouraged to “Check it out!” splitting up to search the various options, the favoured one being straight over the busy Station Road as a T had been seen up the Station Approach, where the spectre of two Rail Replacement buses stood ready for later that evening. The option of Icknield Way East was searched by Wanktlers, this too was a Falsie Trail. So, it was back to head nor-nor-westward under the Railway Bridge where Station Road becomes North Road.
The rest of the Pack were making their way up the west side of North Road, for the likes of Sludge knew that there is an entrance to the local Common & Allotments which sit north of the Town, there was no Trail in there either. Then, with a slight hint from No Eye Deer, the east side of the road was searched as My Lil’, Where’s Wally? Milf, Mr X & Wanktlers cottoned on to the footpath at an acute angle, leading up & away from the main road, this would bend around to the north & take the Pack in to the dead end of Larkins Close.
Milf, with Where’s Wally? searched the small cul-de-sacs on one side of this street before realising there was no way out to the Bygrave Road. The Trail continued eastward to the bend in the end of the small estate road, on the way out to its entrance on the Bygrave Road Mr X noticed a house’s pottery name plaque called Star Shire on the Lane Star State flag.
On a CHK on the Bygrave Road & the main consensus with the Keenies was to search down Salisbury Drive, the reason being that they could see a footpath heading northward up through the hillside wheat crop. It was a Falsie! So, back on to the Bygrave Road to head eastward for a few yards to the start of the footpath beyond Laymoor Farm the FRBs had seen through a gap in the homes.
Once on this path it was clear that it changed direction to make it appear as if it left the rear of the homes. The Keenies now began the first long stretch out through the wheat fields on the first ridge running east to west, north of Baldock. Once through the gap in the hedgerow in the floor of the bottom of the ridge a CHK was discovered, but much to the Hare’s dismay none of the Keenies searched either way on the bisecting east to west footpath as they all continued upon the next higher ridge.
Looking back on this climb there was a good view over to Baldock, with the Spire of St Mary’s visible in the distance. A church that was constructed by the Knights Templars in the 1140’s, they built up the Town of Baldock, its name derives from the Old French for Baghdad, it was later rebuilt by the Knights Hospitallars. It is first recorded as "Baldac" in the Pipe Rolls of Hertfordshire in 1168! Baldock was the site of a large Celtic Oppidum, arguably the largest such site in Britain, in turn it became a sizeable Roman settlement, which although not administratively important.
As the Trail progressed, the Hash passed over a barren strip of earth with just a segmented water pipe on it. Once over the bland earthen strip the crop changed to one of Potatoes with the plants all in their lines of heaped up loam of their covered furrows, the going would soon change from hard dry earth full of hoof prints to soft light soil that slowed everyone up as it sits on the crossroads of the Great North Road & the Icknield Way.
After the spuds the light soil continued over tiny lines of little green leaves, Milf wanted to know what these where with their little parsley like foliage. Even our resident horticulturalist, My Lil’, was at a loss. Once up at the edge of the field, at the top of the ridge, the Held CHK was found.
The Hare arrived & said that she ought to have put in a Fish-hook to slow up the Keenies, for the second time that day she had riled My Lil’ with such a prospect! Mind you he wasn’t alone on this & Mr X was happy to wait until the figures of Sludge, Flanders, then Mumblehead & K come up to the Held CHK, for encouragement the Hare waved the open bags of Jelly Babies & Sports Sweets [Out in time for World Cup Football! – Ed] at the upcoming SCBs.
Where’s Wally? Attracted lots of flies like Charlie Brown’s friend ‘Pig Pen’ as he hung around the CHK in his day-glo lime green top, he was soon being called a “Super-fly guy”, the Hare went on to give a little History lesson, which included neighbouring Letchworth, then No Eye Deer pointed out an area in the valley that is now earmarked to be the next Baldock Housing Estate! “Next time we run this way there will be houses on part of it!” she said.
With time passing there was some concern as to where whereabouts of Skip with his aching knee, Sludge said that Skip had an issue with his pole earlier [Steady there Pebbledash! – Ed] then finally Whatever She Says appeared first as he walked along with Skip up the last ridge.
Further away in the distance a Train was seen stopping at Baldock Station, Milf encouraged Kylie to turn on his approach to the CHK, then to take a picture of the “Choo-choo” for they are a rarity at certain times of the day with this new time-table! Ketchup was indeed on this service & would set off after leaving his bag at the Pub.
The Hare allowed the Keenies to resume searching & the drop down the hillside back toward North Road was the favourite way to go, as Wanktlers had already found the T the other way as missing the Held CHK after veering off course up the hill.
Sure enough the Trail was found that way with Wanktlers & Where’s Wally leading the way to the west. As the Track began its descent down the hill these two up front suddenly stopped & began to peered down at something. Mr X & Milf wondered if it was a Bar CHK, so Mr X ran on to see what it was.
Unfortunately it was not a Bar CHK but a distressed rabbit that had been attacked & was in such a pretty poor savaged condition, with bits of the poor thing having been eaten away Milf didn’t want to leave it suffering so, like some old poacher Mr X humanely dispatch the poor thing - before disposing of it out of sight before the rest of the Pack reached this point. At least if the predator responsible came back it would be in no more pain. Later on Ketchup said that when he reached this point, while out on his own & trying to catch up, he witnesses a large bird of prey up there, though Red Kites normally go for carrion.
A nice downhill trot to the southwest would led the Pack by the couple of old homes, with a farm buildings that are now little businesses. The Trail would lead over the A507 North Road to head a few hundred yards up the hill to the north, then the Dust turned off on to Norton Mill Lane, a nice shaded route at last meant for the first time the Pack were out of the sun’s glare.
A gentle descent to the bridge that carries the A1M overhead, but the Trail turned again to take to a path below the east edge of the embankment, not too far along this before the Pack would head away from the motorway above to head into the woodland at a fork in the path, turning south-eastward away via wooden steps to make its way out toward a series of Horse paddocks.
The stile to the footpath running along the edge of these was a pretty tall enough wooden obstacle to scale for those with long legs, but once over this the Trail would take to the path that becomes a drive way, it was at this point by the stables that the Trail would leave the drive from the CHK there, up a set of steps & the Dust led on southward toward the football pitches on the western side of the nature reserve.
Milf, Wanktlers, My Lil’ & Where’s Wally? All stopped as they thought that they had lost the Trail, but on a second look they found it & followed it on to the CHK by the Water Treatment plant. Milf was unsure as to where the Trail would go, but My Lil’ & Mr X backed their instinct to take the footpath tunnel in the railway embankment. Once in the darkness of the low narrow tunnel Milf found this experience a little off putting, so she was soon surrounded by the Lads to escort her through just as some civilians made their way in to the tunnel.
Three of the civilians stepped aside & waited to let the Keenies hollering “On! On!” to emerge out of the darkness, though the noise & the sight of the RA with bloodied hands would have made anyone step back. The Keenies were out in to Baldock again, here there was a split in the Trail, with the Short for Skip, Mumblehead, Flanders & Whatever She Says heading down the Icknield Way to the east, while the Long Trail went off in the opposite direction toward the Orange Tree.
The temptation of a decent pint of Ale was far too much for Mr X & My Lil’ as they broke off to have a very nice Porter, which they savoured before trying to resume the long Trail, though they went slightly awry near the end as they approached the Hare near the On Inn on Football Close.
They arrived back at the same time as Skip with Whatever She Says, No Eye Deer questioned where they had been “On Trail or in the Pub?” to which Mr X (jokingly) said he had to stop for a decent pint after being in shock! They then joined the rest in the Patio Garden. Ketchup was also there after running the whole Trail in almost one go without stopping, since the CHKs were all marked for him. A little later Psycho arrived, as the book was signed & the Trashes handed out.
There were no Down-Downs as there weren’t enough in the Pack’s coffers to cover the cost of two large fizzy Drinks! [No Eye Deer & Whatever She Says both looked relieved at this! – Ed] but we did have a good conversation about Gerald Wiley’s [Ronnie Barker] writing one of the most famous comedy sketches of all time.
The other subject that came up, was the Brighton H3 40th weekend “Camping it up!” which some took in different ways. Some had already seen the photo’s of the Herts away Team on the Farcebook Page!
The Pack weren’t staying too long, as the rest of the time was spent monitoring the National Rail App for the latest on the possibility of Trains arriving at Baldock! Wanktlers decided to get the 21:27, while Ketchup even braved going back on the 21:57 Train with Mr X & My Lil’.