Date =                            27th May 2019

Run Number =            1854

Venue =                        The Waterside Inn

Location =                    Ware

Hare/s =                        Paxo

Beer =                           Tea Kettle Stout; Burnt Orange; Ghost Ship & more

Runners =                    18                                               

Virgins =                        0

Visitors =                       0

Newies =                       0

Après =                          0

Hounds =                      1

Total =                          19

Membership =             A Grotto Trail


            Another Bank Holiday has come around, so, all things considered it wasn’t a bad turn out.  Even the survivors of the Bicester Naughty Night Weekend, one of whom had been around to set this Trail, made it.  The early arrivals were Mr X, My Lil’ & then Wanktlers, who took advantage of the early opening times to enjoy a pint of the Burnt Orange Ale. 

They were soon joined by No Eye Deer & Whatever She Says, No Eye Deer was soon shocked to see Whatever She Says was being server a Doorstep of a Bacon Sandwich to go with his coffee, even though he had already had breakfast this morning.  Anyhow, the Pack slowly gathered outside of the Pub, while Ewok, 3D, Sludge & Port were found over at the Kibes Lane Car Park as the early arrivals went to stow their bags there.

The Circle was called, Fliptop carried out the welcome & Paxo was called in to explain what was out there. Some were surprised at the Hare, many thought that it was going to be Mr X?  It was supposed to be Mr X, who had arranged the surprise visit at the end of the Trail but Paxo had volunteered to take out setting the Trail to save Mr X from traipsing all the way over to Ware that morning.

While away at Bicester’s 45th Weekend Paxo had hatched a plan for the first leg of the Trail, as he announced that the Trail would go through a certain supermarket store.  The Pack were pointed the way over the end of Star Street, then ordered to use the cut-through to the Kibes Lane car park that sits by the open knot gardens that were once a Quaker Burial ground.  The Quaker Meeting House closed in 1864 & demolished in 1881, the grounds were sold to the Ware Urban Council in the 1935, who still maintain it as an open space, three modern mock headstones now mark where 200 Graves are.

Out from between the cars to Kibes lane & the arrows now took the Hash westward to cross New Road & run down East Street, one of the narrower back streets of small shops & businesses that sit to the north behind the High Street.  The arrows would lead over Church Street & then continue along East Street until reaching the Tesco store,

Double arrows pointed the way inside the store where “Every Little Helps!” & the Pack made their way around the aisles to the tills near the northern entrance, to the car park.  Pebbledash was busy working when she saw one, then two Hashers.  It soon dawned on her that she was going to see the whole of the Pack (with the exception of Fliptop with Teddy) & was soon receiving high-fives as they passed by, though the civilian she was serving looked a little aghast at the whole episode.

All of this made the Hash laugh at Pebbledash’s shock, Kylie said if he had known he would have gone to the back car park entrance & filmed it?  Mr X said that the store will have a copy on CCTV!  Anyway, the Pack would come out on to Church Street as it arcs around to the west.  A CHK was found where Crib Street heads away northward from the elbow in the road. 

Mr X & My Lil’ were soon up toward the Albion, where they found Trail leading up on by the Pub to the next CHK at the staggered crossroads with Francis Road to the east, but before that Coronation Road to the west.  Mr X called “On!” as he picked up the Trail westward on Coronation Road, then cutting through the car park used by most of the Hash when we have had the Breakfast Run from Ware 2 Eat. 

The Trail turned to head southward down the High Street a short way to the crossing, then it headed northward back up to the roundabout, Wanktlers had to call Mr X back as he didn’t spot the change in direction.  The rest of the Keenies of Fliptop, Tent Packer, Ewok, No Eye Deer, FWB, Port & even Slug were now catching up as they crossed over the end of the High Street, the first short cut of the day!

On to the Watton Road as it heads westward were at the Mini-roundabout the likes of Wanktlers & My Lil’ found a Bar CHK down on Park Road, some of the Keenies now picked up arrows heading southward through the park, Ewok caught up as Wanktlers reached the apex of the path, then turned to come back up to Park Road.  On his way back, the RA was alerted by Whatever She Says to the fact that the rest of the Hash were cutting straight through the Bar CHK to carry on to the west.

A CHK was found by the footpath running along between the eastern edge of Glaxo’s & the multi-story car park but Wanktlers, Ewok, Mr X, My Lil’ & Port were stopped by a T, so they turned around to find Milf, FWB, No Eye Deer, Tent Packer, Whatever She Says & Kylie heading toward them.  Back on West Street & the Trail continued westward by the front of ASDA to find a CHK at the Crossroads with Fanshawe Crescent & Harries Lane.

Ewok was away down the lane to the south, this runs between the car parks & the west side of the Glaxo buildings, as they headed down to the bend that the Allenbury’s Sports & Social Club site sits on, the voices of Paxo & Sis could be heard just around the corner, upon turning the bend they were soon spotted with Lobby Lobster, 2-1-2 Maureen, 3D & Mrs Mallett heading toward the ornate iron bridge over the River Lea Navigation where it splits to flow around the Priory island.

Over the series dog-leg bridges, weirs & locks, for the Keenies once on the southern bank of the River Lea arrows would lead them along the path heading eastward back toward Ware, Mr X suspected that there was probably going to be a loop from this section of Trail, he would be correct in this assumption but he continued in order to wear off the effects of the away weekend!

Ewok would tell Mr X that not far from here, while she was with the Cubs doing a bit of litter picking when one of them found a syringe.  Not what you want to hear!  Back to the Trail & Wanktlers led the way by the civilians & dog walkers alike, then he turned away from the east on a hairpin bend up through the Tree-line to come out in to one section of Mill Mead.

Ewok turned the conversation to that of otters, there could be otters along here if they have spread from their release in 1991 Jacob’s Island down near Hartham Common?  The FRBs would head south-westward through the pockets of dry flood plains who’s name Mead derives its name from Meadow, which comes from the Anglo-Saxon Mædwe from the Germanic root for Mow. 

The dry sections of the meads are sectioned off by a series of watery cuts that make up the wet lands that help feed the New River, which as we all know from previous R*n Reports was constructed in 1613 to supply drinking water to the Capital in the Stuart era.

“Oh! A Kissing Gate!” declared Ewok as she stopped to kiss My Lil’ who was next behind her on the way through the metal portal to the paddock ahead of them.  The FRBs could see ahead of them the figures of 3D, Lobby Lobster, 2-1-2 Maureen, Sis, Mrs Mallett & Paxo all walking across through the horse paddock cordoned off on this section of Widow’s Mead.  The three nags were at the northern end of the paddock & didn’t seem interested in the Pack walking through, chewing the long grass was far better.

With a ‘Hash Hush’ having been impeccably obeyed, [Sparky wasn’t there to balls it up! – Ed] the Pack reached the unlighted level crossing on the line from Ware to Hertford East, time was taken crossing the tracks & Paxo began to cluck about everyone bunched up in getting over in time without being mullered by a locomotive & end up flat as a hedgehog.  The obstacle causing the delay being another ‘Kissing Gate’

Ewok didn’t help tings as had to stop again at the Kissing Gate & this time it was Milf who was on the receiving end of a Kiss!  Away from the erotic scenes [Some of us won’t sleep tonight after that thought! – Ed] & in the field of longer grasses on Broad Meads, these include such exotics as the wonderfully named adders tongue fern, lesser sea spurry, long winged coneheads & of course some pepper saxifrage, which in turn attracts a variety of birds.

Whatever She Says had already set off over through one meandering path mown over toward the New River, so for the second week the Pack would be running by the man-made drinking water supply.  Mr X & My Lil’ caught up with Whatever She Says where a confluence of the New River & its feeding supplies meet, the original being the source of Chadwell Spring.  Here there’s a small White Washed wooden building & the Portland Stone, Cenotaph like ‘Gauge Enclosure’ which is surrounded by railings.   Whatever She Says again mentioned the short cutters earlier on at the Park by Asda Store.

The Gauge was constructed in 1770 by Robert Mylne, architect & engineer to the New River Company in order to increase the supply of water to London along the New River, which was enabled after the company obtained Parliamentary Sanction in 1738 to construct a cut joining the New River to the River Lea, drawing a measured amount of water to keep levels. `The Marble Gauge' replaced an earlier device located at the nearby sluice, this itself was superseded in 1856 by the New Gauge near Hertford.

Trail turned due south when My Lil' checked it out & the Trail now led along the raised causeway between the west pond & east pond on the Broad Mead side of the tracks.  Mr X reminded Fliptop that the Hash were possibly heading toward the place where the Nag’s Head used to be, a venue Fliptop set a Trail form, the day after it had closed for good & the owner had given all the drink away for free!

The hedged-in path rose up the scrubby bank, taking to the left fork through the thicket & bushes to reach the green iron railings lining the edge of the A119 Hertford Road.  Through another Kissing Gate to come out opposite The Kings Mead, the new Mac's Pub that replaced the old Chadwell Springs clubhouse on the 9 hole golf course.

The Trail turned to the left, descending the long arcing bend, on the way passing under the bright orange Gatso speed camera, near the entrance to the Pump-house.  Now on the level, neither Mr X nor My Lil' slowed down for the bit under the speed trap!  However, they did ease up to look over the main road to see if the Trail would take to the steps in the tree-line which lead up on to Chadwell Road which runs parallel behind the tree line.  It didn’t.

Still with the main road & the Trail got closer to the New River, just a few yards away on the opposite side of the railings, before reaching a pair of arrows directing the way up Scotts Road, where these two now knew that the Held CHK would be at Scott’s Grotto, the RA wanted to be their first to the regroup as he had been in contact with the ‘Wardens’ of Scott’s Grotto, who graciously were opening up two hours early for the Hash.

Looking back down the hill & Mrs Mallett was seen walking along across the start of the rising road, Wanktlers ran down to the main Chadwell Road to catch her, but upon meeting up with the Hare he discovered that she wasn’t going to go into the Grotto & would meet everyone back at the Pub.

The SCBs, including Sparky who had limped up from the Broadsmead car park, were all up with the FRBs at 11:50Hrs, & as luck would have it the Warden arrived right at that time & opened up for the pack to descend the flint & wood chip steps cut out into the Chalk in the 1740s.

Mr X explained that Fliptop used to live over the road at No.6, & almost 28 years ago he said he would set a Trail from is house that would take the Hash into the Grotto, but with the opening times on Saturdays’ & Bank Holidays it was put off each year.  Now this promise was finally going to be fulfilled!

The grotto was built for, John Scott, an 18th century poet.  Born in London in 1731 he moved to Hertfordshire in 1740 to find cleaner air when & he inherited Amwell House & its grounds when his father died in 1768.  Building grottoes was fashionable at this time so when rebuilding the house and landscaping the gardens he decided to build his own.  Scott’s Grotto is a series of interconnected chambers, extending some 67ft into the chalk hillside.  It is rumoured to have cost £10,000 & is thought to have taken his farm labourers some 30 years to complete.  The chambers and tunnels are lined with shells, flints and pieces of coloured glass, some donated by friends.  Mr X noticed the distinctive shiny Ormer shells, a half shelled mollusc which is delicacy where it is found in water around the Channel Islands, most of the Guernsey Harriettes have silver Ormer Shell necklaces

John Scott’s daughter, Maria, inherited her father’s estate when he died in 1783.  When she died in 1863 the property was sold and Scotts Road built.  The grotto was then part of the garden for a large house on Scotts Road but this was demolished in the mid 1960s where the present modern houses on this section of the road built.  The builder planned two houses for the land that the grotto occupies and had demolished the porch as well as the roof of the council chamber before work was stopped, this is why there are two numbers missing form that side of Scotts Road!  

It wasn’t until 1974 that East Hertfordshire District Council acquired the land and carried out basic repairs.  In 1987 the Ware Society, a local voluntary group who had been involved with opening the Grotto to the public since 1983 suggested a full scale restoration scheme.  James Howley, a specialist architect designed the scheme which involved replacing the demolished porch, re-roofing the Council Chamber & repairing the summer house.  The proposed scheme cost £124,000 with contributions from East Herts District Council, English Heritage £32,000 & the Ware Society.  Work started in January 1990 with the restored grotto was opened in April 1991 by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, the chairman of English Heritage at the time.

In 2019 it was transferred to the Scott’s Grotto CIO (a charity) to preserve it for future generations.  The Council Chamber is the most highly decorated circular room has seats inset into its wall.  One of these seats even has the word FROG written in shells, referring to his wife, Sarah Frogley.  Some of the other smaller rooms are plain flint walls, with just undecorated alcove seats to contemplate in while thinking of a new muse, Mr X got a spooky picture of Tent Packer holding the torch up to his face, it made him look like he had a radioactive moustache.

On top of the hill above the tunnels there is a summer house which would have commanded a wonderful view over the town of Ware.  If you ever get the chance it’s well worth the visit to see all of the decorations, including a piece of the Belin Wall & the faces the restoration builder put in.

            Everyone enjoyed the visit to the Grotto & its Summer House on top, soon it was time to descend back down Scott’s Road & out on to the Hertford Road, then back over the New River on to Amwell Lane, except for Wanktlers, Mr X & Tent Packer the barriers had come down on the level crossing.  So, after a long climb up the concrete steps to cross above the lines, then the long decent back to step back on Amwell Lane, the beeping warning signals stopped as the Barriers were raised after the Train had moved on.

            The Waterside Inn had reserved a couple of Table for the Hash, thanks came to Mr X & Paxo.  Everyone agreed it was a good Trail, plus the surprising Pebbledash [She hadn’t a clue that this was going to happen! – Ed] in Tesco was another Highlight.  Whatever She Says again dropped some heavy hints about the short cutters above the Park, that he ran around!

            Lobby Lobster was on the other end of some ‘ribbing’ as at the Bicester weekend on the Sunday, Paxo, Mr X & My Lil’ sat in a line watching her & Mark E Mark take down their tent, before eventually helping to carry gear over to their car.  Then on the last run Lobby Lobster couldn’t find the car keys, Mark E Mark didn’t have them, the other three walked up & down the short area between the tent pitch & the car park like CSI forensic team but found nothing, which wasn’t surprising as the car key was eventually located where she had put it in the left cup of her bra!

            When it came to the Circle, against Whatever She Says best wishes, this was held around the Table inside.  The Hare was rewarded for his efforts & saving Mr X from getting over to set the almost same Trail!  Whatever She Says was out for giving the RA earache about the short cutters!  Lobby Lobster for mislaying car keys in the bra she was wearing.

TBT OBE arrived after the main Pack had dispersed, he popped in to see the last few of the Hard Core who were hanging on after they had thought that they had spotted him over the junction outside of the Pub, & a phone call to him changed all of that!