Scribe’s note: it so happens that this is the tale of the Last Hash Before The Lockdown. I’ve saved it until a Wednesday to give you all something Hashy to chew on whilst you stew in your coops. Our beloved Hare had billed it as The Hill 2; in fact it was more like 1917 without the shelling, but I’m not even going to bother to dress it up, it was amazing enough as it is.
The run in from Ebchester was long and rain-soaked. The double cheeseburger and chips at The Stables were excellent, as was the beer. It was whilst buying my second pint – the sneakily delicious 6.6% Dirty Deeds – that I discovered Inncontinence sitting by the fire, steaming gently. Moments later Omm and Less Cargo walked in the door.
The four of us had, like true Englishmen, been discussing weather for less than five minutes when Floppy After Effort joined us. Slippery When Wet soon followed, as did Papa John (who hadn’t bothered giving his son a lift) and, last but not least, Rover and Out plus our family of hares! Frogsporn and Soggy Biscuit turned up with their daughter Frankie, completely new to the Hash. If only she’d known what to expect…
With the rain falling steadily we all trooped out to the carpark for the off. There was no chalk talk (the hare later claimed to have done one at home), just an elbow in the direction of the road north of Beamish Hall.
The damage to flour had already been noted by those of us who’d crossed trail on the way in. Guilt kicked in very early for Frogsporn and he marked out most of the running checks and stop checks as soon as we reached them. This was for the best, as most of the places where he’d set checks that afternoon were now little better than mudslides. Indeed, after the first few hundred yards we found ourselves in the inky mucky darkness around Beamish Burn, probably a beautiful spot on a summer’s day but barely navigable on a wet and cloudy night.
Really, it was laughable. Almost every path was a climb up or a slide down; the footing started sloppy and just got worse. Impromptu water features appeared out of the gloom. Tree roots turned into tripwires. Tremendous fun.
After what felt like a long time of skidding about we crossed the old Consett-Sunderland railway line which is now Sustrans route 7. Having come in this way I’d seen the checks earlier, and briefly assumed I knew where we were going; nope, second turn was a wrong’un. We were now in the aptly-named Hellhole Woods. The footpaths we splashed along here were clearer, a bit easier to follow, and even wetter than the preceding mile and a half. We all got ankles deep at one point or another.
We then turned north to jaunt back through the muddy woods we’d started in. Here we had the pleasure of watching Frogsporn lose his own trail at least three times; at one point he bravely r*n to the front to guide us aright for a good hundred metres before Slippery found flour on a different path altogether.
“It all looks different in the dark,” the hare protested. Ah, the wise words of Mindphuck, back to haunt us again…
There was an excellent downhill sufficiently steep and wet to be a genuine danger to life. We r*n it, of course. There was a multi-FRB on a mossy log. There was a delightful amount of swearing. There was no beer stop; though we’d been warned about this it still rankled, given the sheer quantity of other liquids on offer.
We climbed to the edge of the woods and found ourselves – hallelujah! – on actual goddamn tarmac. This was an access road just next to Beamish golf course, into which august establishment the trail now led. The pebbled path we r*n upon provided such startlingly firm footing that I managed to fall over on my arse for only the second time that evening. It was a good fall, too; I think Frankie was the only clear witness who can testify to me losing it at the heels, going toes up touche down, sliding downslope a little so as to smear the shit all up to my right oxter, then unaccountably rolling over in it before getting up.
“Are you all right?” she inquired solicitously.
“This is what the Hash is all about,” I assured her, and carried on.
Because it is, isn’t it, hashers and harriets? The lovely warm dry summer evening r*ns with al fresco beers are all well and good, but the real Hash experience is schlepping out there in the pissing rain, rolling in the goddamn shiggy and generally getting into a state which no self-respecting publican would allow across the portal. By the time we reached the solidity of the main road leading up to Beamish Hall we were well into that condition, as the disapproving looks of the locals can testify.
It was barely a half-mile thence to the On Inn. Rain was still falling when we reached the car park. The circle was correspondingly brief, officiated by Omm, and consisted of the usual ode to the hare followed by a string of charges against same, including but not limited to:
- front running
- getting lost on own trail
- laying ridiculously shiggy trail
- no beer stop
- making the fucking thing up as he went along
We sang him the Song Of Shit Hares and poured beer over him in punishment. There was also a virgin’s ode for Frankie (OMM GOT THE QUESTIONS RIGHT!) and brief discussion of the wa*ker’s trail as perambulated by Papa John. Frogsporn had given him three options: a 1.5 mile walk round the woods; a shorter walk across the top of the museum site and back; and just staying in the Stables. No prizes for guessing which of the three our stalwart veteran selected.
Circle was then concluded due to ongoing pissing rain. We repaired to the bar to upset more locals with our muddy asses and to watch Papa John mixing his drinks. Seriously, ask him about the half-and-half pints.
To my knowledge, there has been no trail since last September which equalled this one in terms of unexpected, relentless shiggy. There may be another; who knows what the future holds? All I can say is, if there is, I’ll be wearing my goddamn trailies.