Date = 10th February 2019
Run Number = 1839
Venue = The Two Willows
Location = Welwyn Garden City
Hare/s = My Lil’
Beer = London Pride; Scarlet Macaw
Runners = 10
Virgins = 0
Visitors = 0
Newies = 0
Après = 0
Hounds = 0
Total = 10
Membership = Enjoying both the Trails! [Quote Sludge!]
It was rather wet overnight & perhaps the early morning drizzle had put some off the third Hash within a week? But it was more likely to be a low turnout as there was no feast on the menu après Trail, so it was just a few stalwarts to keep the numbers up. Strangely enough it there were even less a year ago, but that was down to the fact that there was several inches of snow falling over night that time.
The early birds of Wanktlers, Mr X & Fliptop took shelter in a local shop doorway, for the Pub opens at 11:00Hrs but there still wasn’t time to go in. They spent the time watching Sparky & Sludge drive around & around to find a parking space, the RA admitted that he wonders why he bothered to send an email out stating that Parking is not restricted on Sunday & the best place was just a short way over on the dead-end of Guessens Road, but no one seems to read it, except for Where’s Wally?
Anyhow, Mr X spoke to two of his friends who were going in for a Drink, while the loos were used in the Two Willows before the Hash set off, the Circle being called just on the hour. The Hare stated that it was a long Trail, but there were short cuts, as My Lil’ looked after Lobby Lobster & Paxo, it was good to see that Paxo had not been snowed in on top of Mount Tower Hill this year! The first of the short cuts was straight outside of the Pub [May have well have put a CHK in there! – Ed] as the Keenies were sent away down Howardsgate & then around on to Wigmores North.
Mr X had more than an inkling that he, Milf, Sparky, Sludge, Where’s Wally? Fliptop & Wanktlers were on a loop, passing by the local Ladbrokes it must have been like a busman’s holiday for Wanktlers, this extra circular Trail would take to the alleyway through by the southern end of John Lewis & out on to The Parkway, where the SCBs were seen ambling along with the Hare toward the Campus at the north end of the Town Centre.
A series of arrows pointed the way over two sets of lights on the pedestrian crossings at the end of the Parkway, to get through to semi-circular green space of the Campus. The Dust led up on a diagonal path up to the crossing opposite the Hawthorne Theatre, the venue for the Adult Panto [The 2019 Season’s Tickets have been booked by the time you read this Trash! – Ed]
Anyhow, again Mr X’s local knowledge was spot on, but he was pipped to the post of running around toward the ‘White Bridge’ at the start of Digswell Road to the north by Where’s Wally? & Sludge, as they made their way around to find the double arrows pointing to the steps just to the start of the west side of the ‘White Bridge’ which descended down to the former Welwyn garden City to Luton line, now known as the Ayot Way.
At the bottom of the muddy flight of steps cut in to the embankment Where’s Wally? stopped to point out the sad looking old cloth toy of a rabbit with one eye, he claimed it could be on the Hashit? [Who remembers those days when we had a Hashit? – Ed] Mr X was just happy that he didn’t have to dispatch this rabbit! Milf stopped to photograph this probably once loved toy that is now discarded just like the poor Herts Hashit & stoat!
The Trail would move on to the west along the bed of the former railway line, the SCBs of Paxo & Lobby Lobster stood out up ahead, for he was dressed up with his faced covered like some kind of French Protestor & Lobby was like Mary Poppins in holding an umbrella, they had come down from the Short Cut behind the Hawthorn Theatre with the Hare to be ahead of the Pack.
A CHK was discovered at the point where there used to be a level crossing on the old line, this leading from Bridge Road up over the raised railway & down in to the Reddings. Where’s Wally? picked up the Trail as it continued along the former line, which passenger services finished in 1951.
As Where’s Wally? progressed on his way westward, Sludge & Wanktlers had stopped behind him on this way to point out to the rest of the Hash a very large, prominent White Flour arrow pointing away to the north, down the raised railway bed to come down a few feet to an area where there was a lot of conservation work going on, lots orange hi-vis jackets could be seen as the volunteers were carrying out hedge-laying in this area of SSI (Special Scientific Interest) of native Broadleaf Trees.
It was now that the Pack would encounter the first tracts of Shiggy as the Trail doubled back to run below the Railways edge for a hundred yards or so, before turning from the east to the north, passing by a small electricity outbuilding to come out on to the Reddings, a circular road with some nice homes around it. The Trail continued northward for a few yards, before turning westward on a footpath between two of the homes, this led back into the Reddings Plantation section of Sherrards Wood once again, & back into the Shiggy.
With more Shiggy being encountered it now seemed easier to run through this, for any change in pace meant a loss of momentum & with that direction of Hash feet. While Sludge, Milf, Wanktlers, Where’s Wally? & Sparky looked toward the northwest, Mr X had other ideas, knowing how cunning this Hare was & utilizing his local knowledge he took the easterly option down toward another entrance to Sherrards Wood, sure enough he found Trail.
Fliptop followed on as Mr X began to following the Trail as it turned northward on the ride along the eastern edge of the woodland, running behind the homes on Sherrards Park Road. Here there had been a lot of tree felling along this rising path of Shiggy, on some of the remaining heathy trees there were obvious signs that stated ‘Don’t climb on the felled wood!” meaning the cut branches & trunks had been stacked up to the side.
Mr X couldn’t resist the chance to stop for a photo stop, for the signage with its large black hand was nothing more than a Challenge! So, once Milf arrived see could take a picture of most of the FRBs with the sign in shot, some astride the tops of several felled trunks to thumb their noses at authoritarian rule!
Fortunately for Paxo & Lobby Lobster, they were still coming up into sight & missed Wanktlers singing Mony Python’s Lumber Jack Song, which was followed by a joke about “What do you call a mushroom with a 12 inch stalk?” [Steady there Pebbledash! – Ed] “A Fungi to be with!” just before the FRBs set off groaning away, as My Lil’ came out with “You didn’t throw the Christmas crackers away then?”
A short way from the felled wood & there was a Held CHK, Milf’s question about sweets was soon answered as some liquorice allsorts before making their way around. Time to move on again & Mr X searched the high footpath that runs around the wood at the top of the ridge in a clockwise direction behind the various little cul-de-sacs off of Pentley Park Road, but he & Wanktlers were called back as the Dust had been found on the hardest & most slippery downhill section.
Trying to work their decent through the edges of this Shiggy path didn’t really help, but there were the odd tree to hang on to on the way down to try & stay upright. The Dust now led from the bottom of the horseshoe shaped dip to rise back up the opposite side, it was actually easier heading up the opposing Shiggy path to reach the high level once again.
Sparky went wrong as he climbed the next small ridge in Temple Wood, Wanktlers had been brought back by Sparky’s Horn from where he was on the correct Trail, a more solid under-foot stonier route around behind the wooden fenced-off property to come out on the western side of a small crossing of a triangle of paths, around a scrubby area, & on to a Held CHK on the drive way from Monkswood to Rectory Road on either side of the Farm.
The Keenies hung around for a while, munching now on Wine Gums as Fliptop had grabbed the last of the Allsorts! Sparky stopped holding the CHK & wandered off to search for Trail, so Mr X chose to look back on the little triangle of paths at the end of the one up from Temple Wood & on to the ‘Monks Walk’, but he was called back for another Photo-shot when Paxo & Lobby Lobster arrived. However there was one absentee, & that was Sparky who had gone missing by this point & not responding to any calls of “On Back!” The photo was taken with the verdant hills over toward Tewin being seen in the distance behind the homes.
The Pack followed Mr X as trotted off back through the wee triangle of scrub land to the ‘Monks Walk’ which was once used by the residents of a local monastery for a procession up through the avenue of trees to the old Roman Temple in the wood, which as Mr X said was probably bastardised to fit in with the Christian beliefs. This was an area where the Snowdrops were out in greater number, as were the crocuses, which cheered some of the Pack up.
North-eastward down through the avenue on a gentle run, briefly stopping to allow the traffic to pass at the crossing of Knightsfield Road, then following the Trail around between the Welwyn Garden Cricket Ground & Digswell House, the Hash approached the side of the large white Palladian fronted house, Milf wasn’t as keen to hear that it is now home to apartments, but as Mr X said it could have gone the same way as Panshanger House & been demolished. It was in the hedgerow here that Milf took a picture of more abundant snow drops.
The large house was built to replace the ram-shackled medieval manor-house bought by the 3rd Earl Cowper (pronounced Cooper) in the 1700’s. During the First World War Digswell House served as the Number 5 Australian Auxiliary Hospital & Nursing home for wounded Aussie Soldiers though Belgian & British Soldiers also stayed there. It was staffed by the Red Cross from local families. The grounds of Digswell house provided a centre for sports for those soldiers who could compete, hence the adjacent Cricket Ground.
A CHK by the drive of the former stately home had Sludge going over toward St John the Evangelist’s Church, a small Norman like building with a 1960’s concrete addition on the side. Mr X picked up the Trail as it led down by the Church & around on to a path that headed south-eastward but both he & Sludge were to find a Bar CHK down this route into the green valley that was once styled by Capability Brown for Digswell House.
Back up to a split in the path, & now the Pack would make their way around the top of the wooded ridge above the green grassy vale before it dropped down a nice drier path to Bessemer Road, one of the main arterial routes in to Welwyn Garden City. At this point the likes of Mr X & Sludge were hoping for the Trail to turn to the right, but as the Hare started chalking on the floor it soon became clear that the option to the east was for the Short Cutters, with an arrow & the words ‘Right under the viaduct!’
The FRBs were now directed straight over the road, once the traffic had dissipated, & they took to the short footpath that leads on to Digswell Park Road, a single track lane that is used as a ‘Rat Run’ to avoid the speed bumps & restrictions out on the Hertford Road at the southern end of Digswell, so there were plenty of calls of “Petrol!” going up as the Trail headed toward the Viaduct. A CHK was found before the High brick railway edifice, for which Milf, Wanktlers & Where’s Wally? led the way up through the empty equine field beside the stables.
On the way up through the empty horse field, the smell of a large steaming pile of manure drifted over, thus encouraging the Keenies to run to the far end where the footpath came out on to the Hertford Road in Digswell. There the Trail continued on the next section of the northbound footpath, as it becomes enclosed as an alleyway through the back to back of the homes in Digswell, seeing Where’s Wally?, Milf & Wanktlers heading away up this, Mr X & Fliptop began to thought that perhaps the Hash were getting the Train back from Welwyn North Station?
But no change was mentioned to pay for a ticket. There was not to be any Train back, as the FRBs would find a Bar CHK up the alley, fortunately for Mr X & Fliptop they were far enough behind for them to be shown the correct route by the Hare, which as down the Hertford Road, where Sludge joined from one of his off-Trail exploits!
In Sludge’s mind he had finished one Trail at this point, so passing under the viaduct & then over the roundabout junction to cross the bridge over the River Mimram, he embarked on his ‘second Trail’ of the Day as this Trail led behind the railings to turn on to the dead end of Digswell Lane.
Dust led up the rising olde worlde lane of cottages to come back out on to the modern Bessemer Road, where Paxo & Lobby Lobster was seen on the opposite side of the road, just about to take to the footpath that runs up by the railway line, near to the southern end of the viaduct. By this point the Hash realised that Sparky had gone missing again, last seen going astray back at St John the Evangelist by the SCBs.
The Digswell Viaduct, also called Welwyn Viaduct, carries the East Coast Main Line over the River Mimram valley, a locally important landmark it is around 1,560 feet (475 m) long, comprising of forty arches of 30 ft (9 m) spans, it stands 100 ft (30 m) high from ground level to track-bed. The red bricks fired from clay quarried on site during construction, taking two years to build, including the construction of embankments at both ends that required the movement of around one million tons of earth by human & horse power. It was designed by William Cubitt, being styled after a Roman aqueduct.
It was officially opened by Queen Victoria on 6 August 1850, but she was not so keen of its height, so she refused to travel across it. The train carrying her had to stop, upon which she left the train to take a horse-drawn carriage to travel the length of the bridge on the ground. She then re-entered the train at the other end of the viaduct to continue her journey.
Back on Trail. As for the Hash, their journey continued sou-souwest through the long green space between the railway land & the homes on what is known as Nursery Hill. The Hash now passed right near to TC’s home, but he wasn’t there to call upon, as he was in Jamaica to seeing his Folks.
For the Keenies there were several twists & turns as the Trail led through the back streets, even passing thought a passageway of one block of flats before turning back on what was a large S-shaped run, passing a Barbeque set up in a hedgerow away from the homes on the last of the S-bend.
The Trail would now split, with Lobby Lobster & Paxo being taken away up Lodgefield, while the FRBs headed out of Nursery Gardens & on to Knightsfield Road. Turning westward the FRBs could see the SCBs a little further up the hillside, as they were crossing over to the cycle/footpath route running back alongside the Railway again.
This wide track has Shire Park to the east side, home to Tesco-ville, there was now a long trot up to the narrow hump-back ‘Lyles bridge’ that crosses the Railway line to the west. Having come over the brow of the bridge the Hare kept an eye on Sludge, who was standing right on top of the arrow pointing away from the end of Digswell Rise where the Trail led down away to the north up the Vineyard.
Like Sludge, Mr X wasn’t that Keen on going around another loop as well, for he knew that the Trail had to come out again on to Digswell Rise. So, they left Milf, Where’s Wally? & Wanktlers to run this as the Hare showed that he could be benevolent by now marking the Trail down Gresley Close, named after Sir Nigel Gresley as the homes sit beside the railway line that the LNER Trains he designed used to, & still do on heritage days like the Flying Scotsman, run from Kings Cross to Scotland.
This is one of the newer roads (probably about 15 years old) in Welwyn Garden being built on old Railway land to lead almost due south to its dead-end, where there is a cut-through to the back of the Waitrose car park, there the On Inn was found. Now it was a simple case of coming around by the council offices & then passing under Bridge Road via the subway to come up by John Lewis, formerly the Welwyn Department Stores, then it as a short way around to the Pub.
Once inside the Pack settled in to the Pub, weary Hash feet could be put up. when Where’s Wally? came back from getting changed he found his Pint was now sitting on a Where’s Wally? book, later on had a picture taken with a puzzled look on his face, as if he was bamboozled by searching for himself within the pages of said book.
Mr X went to get changed & he discovered a fitbit thingy in the cubical, hesitantly he picked it up & a text of ‘Hi Andy’ scrolled across the screen! This lost property would be handed back to the GM, with a Down-Down a little later.
Sparky finally arrived back, then went AWOL for quite some time again to get changed. Eventually Sparky returned, then after a couple of bowls of cheesy chips, it was time for the Down-Downs.
The Hare was rewarded first for (As Sludge called it) Two good Trails! Then in no particular order: Where’s Wally? for the getting stuck with the Where’s Wally book; Sparky going AWOL; Paxo for looking like a Protestor [Où est le gillet jaune? – Ed]; Milf for the Rabbit; Fliptop for his leaving messages on his fitbit in the Gents cubicle! [If only we had a Hashit! – Ed] Wanktlers for the corniest joke on Trail.
Circle finished, the subjects changed to Christmas Weekend & Pantomimes,[Oh yes they did! – Ed] Paxo’s offer of setting the Christmas Weekend Trail was firmly slapped down by My Lil’, seems Paxo is in charge of the Sunday Recovery Trail! While Mr X said that he’s be booking Panto Tickets this coming week!