The Recce …..
Is there a typical modus operandi for a Hash recce? Get a good partner (and co-hare), on this occasion it was to be Counterfit, but sadly he pulled-out as quickly as only a good catholic can … oh well, on me’ own again L. Next, choose a good pub …. Well, in strictness, any owld’ pub, which sells good beer……. And so, The New Plough Inn at Mountsett pretty much chose itself for Run 1498. Not far from chez H3O, an abundance of footpaths thereabouts and a decent selection of Sonnet 43 beers. Sadly not actually 43 beers though.
A quick look on Go ‘Oggle the Earth ….. and then a map. Ahh …. lovely, lovely maps. A freshly printed copy of Streetmap.co.uk 1:25000 with the environs of Hash 1498 featuring the delightful villages of Hobson, Harelaw and Harperley, which sounds like a firm of solicitors (Established 1903) specialising in land rights and wayleaves (the hash nemesis perhaps?) ….. or maybe it is just where hurricanes hardly ever happen! And surely, not during such a beautiful English summer J
First Recce: Choose a nice summer day (actually a bloody hot one in reality). Head up to Dipton to press-gang young Ben Nee Bear to help his grandad with the recce. Map consulted, we were off to see whether the off-road permissive paths, footpaths, bridleways, cyclepaths on the maps appeared in reality ….. and to “bag” as many cartographic features as to send Treasure Chest into a swoon. (Other requirements: Don’t get lost, a la DiptonMill …. And leave enough time to get back in time for the Circle and Sunday Lunch).
A joyous afternoon with the bairn, being semi-immersed in the world of childlore: e.g.The haunted post box of Burnopfield, the swing where Katy broke her arm; and the more prosaic, estimated transfer value of a host of European footballers.
The recce took us as far as Catchgate when the promised footpath petered-out into Fly-Tipping Central or perhaps it was a Durham Council sponsored Tracey Emin mixed media installation entitled “My kitchen clearance”? Either way, Ben Nee Bear was not impressed …. “It’s time for a beer grandad”. He’s ten years old but a good decision maker. So we repaired to the pub ….. job (half) done.
Second Recce: A rare day of heavy water (it was peeing down) picking-up the trail at Catchgate, where me n’ Nee Bear left off. Urgh ….. abject misery …. The public footpaths of North West Durham are a nightmare …. Broken stiles, overgrown and non-existent paths. Where is Hash Sab when you need him …. Ideally, armed with a machete, chainsaw and the legislation on public rights of way.
After three miles of wasted road running and much backtracking, I may have eventually found a stretch of a usable paths. Two days and several lengths of path in the bag …..it felt like I’d got a whole box of jigsaw pieces …. but will they all fit together when I lay the trail????? If all else fails, deploy the old hash tactic …… use a previous trail. Now, time for that beer again …..
A Hash Challenge: Try and lay a trail from the village of West Kyo! There is a pub – The Olde Earl Grey (It didn’t look very promising) ….. the footpaths north are difficult/impenetrable. Over to you Counterfit!
Laying the trail ……
I hate laying the bleedin’ trail …. sandwiched between the recces and the r*n. You have seen quite enough of the trail by this stage and you’ve got it all to do again tomorrow!! Plodding across country swinging milk cartons of Aldi’s finest graded grains like a modern day Hansel (with no Gretel). Running the gamut of cheeky urchins and belligerent farmers …….. but in reality, the day was fine and the passers-by and dog-walkers dispensed smiles, cheery waves and polite conversation. It was a good day after all ….. and maybe another beer to finish. Every cloud …… eh?
On a warm summer’s day, bees humming, red kites riding the thermals with cotton wool clouds tripping lazily over a cornflower sky. A quick congregation, a headcount of five hardy r*nners (Counterfit, Spiderman, Mary Poppins, Pimp and belatedly joined by Perineum) and then off for an Über-yomp around the Derwent Valley …..
Dozens of wa*kers assembled, including a rare visit from Sperm Whale and Mashed Potato. Artichoke took the lead, armed with a map, a narrative …… and a choice of route. Would they follow the purple route or the blue route …… or would they just twat about like whirligig beetles in jam jar?
|Heading out from the New Plough starting with an inauspicious plod|
|along the main road, past Mountsett Crematorium (double quick – we’re not quite ready for the incinerator yet)|
|then descending on the first footpath into the Derwent Valley into the countryside with spectacular views across the valley. Through a couple of scratty fields, with Spiderman ploughing through the undergrowth and bagging every FRB along the way, eventually disgorging the small but perfectly formed body of “athletes” outside Pontop Hall. A climb into village of Dipton, where Counterfit decided to “go rogue” (or more probably nicked-off to the pub)|
|Onward (and steeply upward) through a claustrophobic little wood and a whole thousand feet to the high point of the trail and a Hash View at the Pontop Pike transmitter …. And Mary Poppins wasn’t even breathing heavily (between Anglo-Saxon swear words).Hash History: The first BBC broadcasts were transmitted in May 1953, when Pop tuned-in to watch Muffin the Mule.|
|Galloping the rather more gentle downward contours at a steady canter past a couple of smallholdings and pastures exploding with purple heather in full bloom|
|Then to the west of Harelaw emerging at Flint Hill.|
|Then a cross-country plod along the “in” trail, following well-defined cycle path between a straggly line of hawthorns until we reached White-le-Head a pretty North West Durham village with tiny farms, smallholdings and views down to the North Sea. Après Blanc-le-Tête and a couple of grassy fields followed by a narrow nettle and bramble-filled path and then gently down to the reveal of the On-Inn.|
The walking group reported that they successfully followed the map (a first?) and had a “jolly nice time” (standard) …. or had they? They were back at the pub suspiciously early – ha ha.
The Circle was convened (and thankfully dismissed quickly), but not before welcoming returners (Ben Nee Bear, Sperm Whale & Mashed Potato), and celebrating (?) a mere 700 r*ns by InnContinence.
Stats and Special Notices
Note to Pimp: I believe you are looking for properties and the fine country pile you spotted was, I believe Hamsterley Hall. It is on the market for a mere £431,000 …… spare change.
Weather – Warm and sunny
Widdler – Pimp
Late comers (Perineum) – 1
Fans of Girls who Bite – 2
Hash Heraldry – 1
Wednesday – Dr Syntax, New Ridley