Run No. 1915
Sunday 6th December
Venue: Mardley heath
Beers: Whatever you stole from your Crimbo Stash
Location: Mardley Heath
Hare/s: Mr X
Hash Hounds: 0
Membership: On a Misty Mystery Trail.
A damp old misty morn’ greeted the Hash first thing, by the time the Hash early arrivals were ready to set off it was apparent that the sun wasn’t going to burn the mist off. The Hare noticed that there seemed to be a shift as to the use of the car park, only one van was there when he arrived, parked by the scattering of distinctive silver nitrous-oxide cylinders left over from the night-shift?
The car parked then filled with dog-walkers & by the time the Hare was back from setting the Trail the dog walkers seemed to be moving on & their parking spaces were slowly being taken over by families meeting up for a walk, some of them didn’t seem to be abiding by the ‘Rules’ that this Pack are ardently sticking too! It was also noticed that if you are an over grown kid you can come here to play with your radio controlled car.
More spaces vanished when Tent Packer arrived & moored up, the Hare was surprised that he didn’t drop anchor in the large pond on the southern side of the Mardley heath Lane? Tent Packer came ashore & was now sporting his stray ginger-tom of a ushanka (Russian Fur Hat), this headwear sparked the usual “Where the Fox Hat?” jokes. [Try saying it fast in a posh accent & you’ll get the joke! – Ed]
The first group set off in to the more open spinney to the east of the busy car park, then as the Hare was about to follow on he saw that Flying Solo arrive, she was escaping from Alexa playing Christmas song requested by her kids [Bet she’s already been Whamaggedoned? – Ed] then Amanda arrived & like Flying Solo she also had to park up on the small lay-by opposite the car park. So, the Hare hung around to make sure these two could see which way to head off & cut through as he marked the Trail.
The first Pod were well on their way, negotiating a drop down a level by a couple of feet to reach a meandering path that runs along the inside of the northern Brokers Garden section of woodland’s eastern edge. Plenty of leaf-littered Shiggy in the first section of woodland, which is shaped rather like a jig-saw piece as the Trail led from north bound then a turn to the north-east & then back to due north.
A CHK point inside the edge of the wood kept the Hash within the trees as it rose up slightly to arrive at the next CHK set on the knurled old tree roots in the north-eastern corner. A Falsie was set along the inside of the northern side of the wood, heading westward.
Those who ventured out on the ‘straight as a die’ footpath out between two crop fields would find flour on the fence posts which sectioned off a couple of feet to encourage the growth of a new hedgerow, it was a north-easterly trot of 100Yards to the railway bridge where Wych Elm lane passes beneath to become Bridge Road into Woolmer Green, opposite the bridge the next CHK was found.
For the likes of My Lil’ & Sludge the choices would be easy as simple as just one, to take to the footpath along the edge of the field below the railway embankment, this was the correct route toward the north, Milf, Tent Packer & No Eye Deer up ahead of Whatevershesays & Kylie, with the late starting Flying Solo making good ground but unbeknown to the Hare Amanda had gone awry way back in Mardley Heath wood.
It was a nice flat trot along the edge of the field of what smelt like young brassicas planted in it, Kylie enjoyed this section as to his right was the tall embankment for the Kings Cross Mainline, though not much in the way of traffic passing along the lines as the hash ran by! After 300 Yards the Trail arrived at the outside corner of the new Knebworth Cemetery, there a CHK was found.
On the continuation of the north bound footpath a T stopped any further progress along this tree-lined route between the fenced off rear gardens of Gun Road Gardens & the railway line. The only other option was to find the Trail up the southern edge of the cemetery railings to head westward for just over 100 yards then around the end to find the next CHK by a cut-through in the hedgerow to Wadnall Way.
The choices now were to search in the southern Knebworth 1960’s section of the estate, or in a homage to TBT OBE search the unofficial right of way of a ‘dog-walkers’ route around the perimeter of the crop field? The ‘friends of TBT OBE’ would win this one as the Trail hugged the hedge-line as it traces the rear gardens of the estate, reaching the outside of the southwestern corner it turned due north, then on the final leg of the 500 Yards stretch a slight downhill trot was turned by 15° to the west & led over to a large Oak trunk that is placed in the field entrance to prevent access from Gipsy Lane.
The Hare was happy to include this unofficial route, due to the fact that there are some of the Herts Hash who, like himself, have run almost all of the official footpaths in our fair county. It’s a nice treat to take a different route, also it allows the Hare to try & out fox Sludge’s pre-empting of the Trail’s way.
A clamber up over the raised verge by the Oak trunk revealed that it had an arrow on top of it pointing the way nor-nor-eastward down Gipsy Lane as it leads back in to the west of Knebworth, while the rest of the Hash were off around the back of the houses, the Hare now encountered dog-walker with her scruffy old black hound. Obviously one of those up ahead, probably Milf, had spoken to the pooch owner about the Trail being set in flour & so it should not be harmful to the environment or animals! [Ha! – Ed]
Well, you could have knocked the Hare down with a feather as he approached the dog owner & she asked him if “In the future the Trails could be set in Gluten Free Flour?” as her pooch is gluten intolerant & had been eating the Trail! Perhaps the Hash could say keeping your pooch under control, on a lead, in order to prevent it eating anything lying about on the ground would also help? [This is one reason this Hare puts most of his Trail markings on trees, fences & other places off of the ground where it can’t be kicked out or eaten by critters! – Ed]
The puzzled Hare moved on, as the Trail reached the T-junction in Gipsy Lane a CHK was found on the footpath opposite the alleyway through to Stockens Dell, the Hare caught up with Whatevershesays as the Trail led along by the tall laurel hedge along the side of the cul-de-sac in a nor-nor-east direction to a cut-through into Lytton Fields park.
On the way the Hare told Whatevershesays that he was still in shock, that after all his years of Hashing he has never had a request like that. He’s used to be asked if its ‘Rat poison’ being set down for some kind of pest control, & even if it’s an illicit powder that certain Soccer players used to abuse, but not for gluten free flour.
Whatevershesays said that perhaps we should raise this issue at the next Hash meeting? The Hare moved on pondering the subject of paying 45 pence for a bag in Aldi or £1 should be debated? [Nah! – Ed]
A CHK located in the southern tip of the green space, while some of the Hash fanned out to search over the green grassy area, when Sludge arrived here he thought he knew better than the Hare as he scuttled away on the raised tarmac path along the southern edge of the play area, he no doubt believed that the Trail would go this way as it was heading out toward where the falsie by the graveyard was, he would be wrong!
Sludge floundered at not finding the Trail, as the rest of the first Pod picked up the dust on the north edge of the grass, leaving the kids play ground behind to head up on to Lytton Fields, it was just over 100 Yards up though the village backstreet estate to merge out on to Park Lane [No not that one, but some of the houses are pretty expensive! – Ed] her was a CHK with three options. The two main options were up or down Park Lane, with a lesser chance of the Trail being over to the northeast on Deard’s Wood lane.
To the east the road dropped won hill toward the station, after this was built in the 1850’s Lord Lytton built Knebworth Station Estate, this became New Knebworth on either side of the tracks, the ‘New’ was eventually dropped while Old Knebworth retains its defining name. One odd fact was that Lord Lytton would not allow a Fish & Chip Shop to open in New Knebworth, it was written in to the ‘Knebworth Garden Villages’ charter, as he thought it would lower the tone, however he never thought that when the Chinese opened that it would sell Fish & Chips without breaking the covernent!
The popular choice of heading westward up toward the A1(M) proved to be correct as the Dust led over to the northern side of the road when the footpath ceases on the southern side, passing by the old red brick barns the path passed through the long spinney between the lane & the horse paddocks to the north, it was just around this point that Amanda caught up after really going wrong on a couple of Falsies all the way back to the woodland at the start! This route dropped down to the lane’s edge, opposite the start of Gipsy Lane, here a bit of caution was needed to cross to the other side.
The Trail would now begin to rise as the Hash were led out of Knebworth & over the bridge spanning the A1(M) below & into Old Knebworth, it wasn’t too far for the next CHK, which was situated by a field to the south of Park lane, there was no Trail down there this time, but this, like the earlier route, is an unofficial path used by dog-walkers & joggers alike, so maybe next time?
Instead the Trail continued up the long gentle rise, passing the large homes set behind tall red brick walls & security gates set back in Homewood, then at the north-western corner of the plantation a CHK was found at the start of the wide southbound bridleway & the old drive to the Homewood Dowager House, this almost hidden from sight building was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (Designer of the Cenotaph amongst other famous buildings) It was created for Edith Bulwer-Lytton to live in when the new Lord Lytton came into his title & move in to Knebworth House.
By now the day was warming up slightly, though visibility was still really poor due to the mist, the frost on the bare skeletal branches now began to fall, some bits like rain, others were brilliant sparkling ice crystals which when they fell in a wave looked pretty spectacular.
The Trail was found on the bridleway & so the Hash set off between the red brick gate posts, with signs on that declared it was ‘Private Drive’ not for vehicular access. The Trail ran for 220 Yards under the dripping tree canopy to reach the next CHK, here there were just two options, continue along the bridleway, or paddle through the large puddle & then head out to the southwest through the crop fields of Old Knebworth?
The easy hard core covered bridleway was a falsie, but My Lil’, Sludge & Tent Packer ignored NO LESS THAN TWO T’s that they situated plainly in sight along that route, now in their “We know better Short Cutting Pod” they would wimp out of the best Shiggy of the Trail & left the Harriettes of No Eye Deer, Milf, Flying Solo & Amanda to plough on through the long, deep, cold & wet Shiggy.
The Girls vanished from sight in the mist lingering up on the plateau, as they braved the slow slippery route out between the winter crops, sadly the Lytton Arms could be seen over to the northwest, nor the normal unspoilt splendid Hertfordshire vista could be appreciated here is still being obscured. After 430 Yards the route had dried out underfoot on its way over to the west end of the fields where a CHK was found, here there were three options.
The Path toward the Lytton Arms in the northwest had no Trail, nor did the westerly footpath over toward Nup End, fortunately the Hare hadn’t set the real Trail too far from the CHK, so a ‘due south’ bound Trail on the footpath leading into New wood was run.
Once in the broadleaf wood another CHK was found, in normal circumstances the Harriettes may have noticed the Short Cutting Sludge, My Lil’ & Tent Packer had continued on along the bridleway but their slinking off had been well disguised by the thick fog.
The Trail inside New Wood would be picked up & lead eastward between the trees on a desire line, this had nice patches of Shiggy spread along the route between the broadleaf trees, silver birches & holly bushes, there were also a fallen tree to get around, for those who are more curious there were also den like structures made of trunks & branches of pollard trees in a tepee formation to inspect.
After marking the Short cut earlier along the bridleway, the Hare had said to Kylie on this section that the Trail would be easier if he had kept the Trail inside the wood where it there was less Shiggy, but it wouldn’t have been as much fun & it didn’t run that far. The outer bridleway was far more Hash like with the deep Shiggy being churned up by horses hooves, so even My Lil’, Tent Packer & Sludge couldn’t avoid getting their Hash boots cold, wet & Shiggified.
All of the above information didn’t prevent Kylie from nipping through the bushes & taking to the easy option, but just for a mere 20 yards before emerging back out on to the bridleway of Shiggy, on his exit Kylie looked back & he informed the Hare that Whatevershesays had nipped into the wood just as he did!
Having made their way over to eastern edge of New Wood, Flying Solo & Amanda met up with Sparerib on the bridleway, & as they made their way southward through Shiggy Spare Rib suddenly had to stop, he was bent over double in pain due to Bursitis. The Hare looked back in concern, he started to head back but stopped when he realised who it was, as Sparerib started moving again.
Kylie & Whatevershesays were directed by the Hare at the CHK by where the bridleway leads out into Rabley Heath, they were ushered away along the footpath along the southern end of the farm field, though Whatevershesays had other ideas & protested that if he went by the Robin Hood & Little John he’d be on a shorter route, which although technically correct by 315 feet had too much tarmac for the Hare’s liking, Whatevershesays was finally convinced by the Hare that there would be less road to go along, even if it is mere 100 Yards to be exact, it was more scenic out in the arable land.
Talking of 100 Yards, it was another of them along the southern end of the crop
field, running behind the hedge secluding the line of homes in Rabley Heath, the
footpath would drop down into the hedgerow by where a pond sits in the small
spinney. The options from here were to cross an enclosed paddock on a path
that heads back toward the Robin Hood & Little John, but with this being closed
& no Ale available without a
Substantial Meal Scotch Egg there would be
no Beer Stop while the Pandemic is upon us, so it was eastward on the path along
the northern edge of an enclosed & sheltered crop field.
Flying Solo, Amanda & Sparerib would now pass by the Hare on this wide track of
a footpath which arcs like a spine for its 150 yards length until it reaches
where Wych Elm Lane comes up from over the motorway & becomes Spinney Lane,
there a CHK was found. Something that would not be a problem for the ‘old
lags hands’ of the Hash as the likes of My Lil’ & Sludge are almost
preprogramed with knowledge of the rights of way in Hertfordshire.
The Short Cutting Pod were straight down Spinney Lane, passing the lines of large homes that sit along the eastern side of the road. It was a hundred yards along the tarmac before it reached the penultimate CHK of the Trail, this was on the raised hedgerow verge opposite Normans Lane off to the southeast.
Again there would be no second choices for My Lil’ & Sludge, for they knew that ‘Private’ Normans Lane passes beneath the A1(M), so they were straight on to the hard-capped way. On the gentle drop down the Trail would pass by the frontage of large house, with equally large gates & two large obligatory ‘Hooch’ like guard pooches barking at those going by.
As the lane progressed down deeper into Ninnings Wood toward the A1(M), the Hash would pass by the gates on the left which had brightly coloured balloons & Christmas Candy Canes & ‘Thank You NHS’ posters decorating them, & painted stones outside, no doubt this sight warmed the cockles of Milf & Kylie’s hearts as they went by? It was along here that No Eye Deer & Milf came up behind the Hare, keeping a safe social distance as they also realised that the end of the Trail was coming up very soon.
Beyond the four railway sleepers making up a bridleway box to prevent unauthorized vehicular access to the side of the gate, it was under the A1(M) via a subway that many thought may be flooded, instead the dark passageway under the four lanes & hard shoulders of the carriageways was dry!
The bridleway emerged into the dull light of the over cast day, & now back in to the western edge of Mardley Heath wood, here the fog didn’t seem as bad now back amongst the trees. The Trail would follow the fenced-in section of bridleway, out over another sleeper box vehicular restrictor to come out into the area of Mardley heath woods where to the left is the open heath of the common land, which still had some lingering mist.
To the right the undulating landscape could be seen, the Hare elected not to run up & down these left over remnants of the former works for gravel extraction in the early 20th Century, the sandy soil on the south pits are now home to rare bees to compliment the flora & fauna. The Hornbeam & Oaks in this section of the wood are also a sign of the land being worked with coppicing & felling that predated the earthworks.
One last trot, on the serpentine wooded ridge leading back along the bridle way to the car park, there was one last CHK before the On Inn, the Hare hoped that some of the inexperienced Hashers may have fallen for searching off on to the heath? Those who carried dues east would follow the Bridleway up by an old moss covered hornbeam trunk with the On Inn upon it.
Up the earthen bank, by the kissing gate, which Milf had to side step as we can’t encourage that kind of thing from her until the pandemic is over! She took the last sleeper box to find the rest were in the car park.
So, some had brought along coffee, which was far more warming while others of the Pack enjoyed a quick cold après Hash refreshment they had brought along, but with the temperature still being low no one was really going to hang around too long, even the thought of another Old Tom (8.5% ABV) couldn’t tempt.
Though there was time to hear about Sex Reject being Whamaggedoned in his local Pub when he was handed the phone with Sparerib on the other end playing Wham’s Last Christmas! [Now, you have now been warned if you are in to that sort of thing! – Ed]