Run Report 1944: Brook Road, Witley

The Diary of Secret Squirrel aged 13¾

Scribed by Hawkeye

Tobruk can often feature in my Sunday afternoon sofa surfing, but on this particular Sunday morning it was a call to action, answered by Tea Cosy meaning that just before 11am I found myself delivered ‘to brook’, a chilly pavement in Brook Road, Witley more precisely. Looking equally perplexed were Wally, Sparkly, Call Girl, ITB, Cynthia and Easily Overlooked. The solitary hare confessed to multiple setting assistants (now absent) spanning the generations; daughter and grandchildren. Therefore the average age of the hare’s for this run was 13¾.

We were promised a regroup plus a lot of fallen leaves. As we set off, the fallen leaves were easy to spot, the regroup and well-marked trail less so. But I for one am a big fan of autumnal colours, so it’s a small price to pay…when you get to kick leaves like a little kid! We headed towards the rail replacement service otherwise masquerading as Witley train station where the first circle of the day set the tone – and flummoxed us! In the end we crossed both the railway line and the main road and headed East on Wormley Road

To this point the marking had been ‘enthusiastic’ meaning quite generous, quite random and neither one side nor the other, we put this down to the average age of the hares but at this rate whiplash rather than sore legs was the most likely outcome of the mornings’ outing. We snuck across some common land before emerging at Hambledon Village hall then Hambledon Village shop and Hambledon Village green. With ITB and CG as reservists, the front running pack of six stuck together by necessity as much as design. We later learned that Black Cat joined the run later and got lost here which in hindsight is not a surprise.

What was a pleasant surprise were the sunny Sunday autumnal vistas that opened up to us on a couple of occasions. Moving on I backed a hunch and schlepped up Woodlands Road thinking that a visit to the Merry Harriers was in order. This never came to pass but it did lead to a lung busting but glorious regroup as the sun shone on the righteous (even though it was raining a little at the same time!) and we reflected on a great run so far.

Next I was pining for my sofa as insistent on seeing the Merry Harriers I led our (until then) merry bunch to a cross, but Cynthia and Sparkly did the same elsewhere. In the end Tea Cosy chose the most unlikely tarmac descent down Church Lane. Soon after we reached the supposed high point of the run, namely Hill Top Farm but at the same time the lowest point so far as vandalism had all but eradicated our hares’ passing. I pressed on, by now convinced that this had to be the route and was rewarded by some un-erased blobs on tree bases! Soon the front running EO and I spotted the guilty welly-clad vandal who’s only excuse was that she hoped we wouldn’t make so much noise if there were horses in the field…..well if you didn’t vandalize our trail we wouldn’t need to make so much bloody noise – idiot!

We skirted past West Surrey Golf Course with the rear end of the group able to witness the local llama’s out walking. Meanwhile back at the front, with a scent of home in our nose, despite carrying an injury TC, slipped the pack but as we crossed the football pitch and then main road, he took a falsie too many and we tackled the incline behind King Edwards school. This led to a further long, narrow and upward path where there was only ever going to be one winner- the hares….who stood to watch our painful progress and welcome us home.

VERDICT: The plans of Secret Squirrel (and family) had been laid bare. Opening Pandora’s box had profound effects on the pack who made a mountain out of a molehill on several occasions and clocked 6 miles in the process. But this was a great choice of venue allowing us to access often overlooked areas and no doubt the family of Squirrels had a great morning out to boot. Many thanks SS et al.

IN THE PUB: We opted for the Merry Harriers, so my earlier wish came true in the end. This was a wise move on several fronts as the beer, chips and seating were bang in order and also because we avoided the temporary traffic lights by the White Hart that were now creating a significant tailback. Relaxing over a pint of Shere Drop we caught up with Black Cat’s latest news and return to Surrey (now in Godalming), but not before fathoming that in true Les Dawson style he’d done all parts of the hash, but not necessarily in the right order. Quasimodo’s forthcoming ‘sixtygig’ was also a topic of conversation and we left in anticipation of meeting again next weekend to party, if not run. On on!

Run Report 1941: Shalford Cricket Ground, Shalford

Soggy Sunday no problem for dusty hare……

Scribed by Hawkeye

Setting a hash in Shalford is very much like making a pizza. You have a good firm base on which to start, honed after years of practice. But like a pizza, this can become very so-so and the challenge then becomes, how to liven it up – what new toppings or twists to add to make it stand out in the memory. Such was the challenge facing Dusty last weekend. And no doubt having done his homework in preparation, he was then somewhat perturbed to wake up to a raging storm and torrential rain.

The origins of his hash name, Dusty are lost to my memory, but it is safe to say that following the morning’s downpour he was anything but. Having watched the storm pass and the glimmerings of a sunny morning emerge – a brave pack set forth. These included Virgil, Venus, Secret Squirrel, Easily Overlooked, TIFM, Wally, ITB, Cynthia, Factor 30, Hawkeye, George Michael and Timothy Taylor.

What of these last two, I hear you ask – well Timothy Taylor waited for us patiently in the pub, whereas George Michael was ever present. To tackle this hash you needed a little Faith. The hare offered a briefing that informed us that his plans had been changed due to the weather and that we could expect a regroup and wet feet, though not necessarily at the same time.

TIFM had stolen an early start, which was to our advantage not his as we merely watched him struggle to leave the green before heading over to join him. To be fair, it was a struggle as rain doused sawdust melted into the background. After a few false starts we made it past the ex-Parrot (it has ceased to be) and across the canal. I headed back towards Guildford and was rewarded but my faith was challenged as we looped along the ridge line (and pillbox) towards Artington and eventually Peasmarsh. I adopted a fingers crossed approach and with a lack of crosses (fingers excepted), at least until I hit Peasmarsh, I was repaid.

By the time we re-crossed the road back towards the navigations, the small pack was regrouped. Plenty of fallen leaves and branches had dotted our route but now a full tree blocked the canal, but not the towpath. A cunning double back towards Shalford then saw us re-meet the hare as we re-crossed the canal and headed towards Tannery Lane. As exotic toppings go this was more pineapple than pepperoni…I’d been expecting to head towards Godalming!

A regroup on the new community boardwalk was not initially spotted by front running SS, but he heard my hollering and this allowed TIFM to shuffle in at the back. What happened next was the subject of some discussion akin to whether it is acceptable to put anchovies on your pizza or not. But in the end we determined that Virgil led us most of the way home, taking the rise by Chinthurst hill then taking the p*** as he picked up the main trail on the main road. To be fair the section he missed, was something we’d rather have avoided too, taking us further away from home as it did. Therefore as we returned along the main road on the far side from where we’d approached it – Virgil’s oversight/shortcut was understandable. With the added Brucie bonus that he kept doing the falsies for us all the way home!

VERDICT:  A great run. Given the weather conditions an excellent run. To stretch the metaphor beyond its limit……a pizza with a few interesting toppings but a soggy bottom. All that said, this run once again confirmed that there’s nothing common about Shalford.

IN THE PUB: We sat outside the Queen Vic in the weak sun, thereby ensuring it was not just the pizza that had a soggy bottom. The front garden was the only option as the gazebos in the back garden were flapping like a kaftan after a night on the curry. The very patient Timothy Taylor was very worth the wait and SS even claimed his Otter tasted nice. Chips arrived to a great welcome and offered a pleasant distraction from SS who had become overly consumed with trainspotting?  Whereas Virgil needed his beer to drown his sorrows about the latest failings of his beloved Tottenham. By those standards, with my football allegiances, I should be permanently lashed. We departed for warmer climes and in EO’s case so that a man could check out her flaunches…….On On!

Run Report 1940: Send Barnes Lane Layby, Burnt Common

Mind the cap……

Scribed by Hawkeye

The last time we ran from this venue, we were in pods. This week we managed just one pod….of seven plus Sorry John beating a path ahead. The pod in question consisted of TIFM, Dusty, Blonde Party Girl, Hawkeye, Secret Squirrel, Call Girl and Robin Hood. As I arrived, Dusty was lost in misty-eyed recollections of his secret assignations with a particular young lady that took place in this very layby during 1978. Layby name, layby nature……

Despite recent torrential rain the briefing promised dry feet and in contrast to recent events a sawdust marked PH3 trail. The fact that we followed a flour arrow marking our exit from the layby and then paddled along the first footpath of the day – was an obvious irony overlooked by Wally and Sparkly, but not me. What other half-truths lay ahead? With BPG making the early running, we crossed the fields and headed past the cemetery before my radar; honed on setting trails in the area, took me to the front and what I felt was a trail destined for the Wey Navigations near the New Inn.

Ultimately the navigations came into play but not this early and thus I faced the ignominy of having to turn around and re-join the pack, this was compounded by the (visual) injury of running towards Woking as it blotted the horizon. Here and there we were met by hare and hare as the GMs delighted in our tortuous progress as cunning switchbacks kept us guessing before we escaped the village and a rendezvous with those navigations and that ‘high footbridge’. The atmosphere at the top is so rarefied that it disorientated the hares enough to forget setting a circle on the far side!

Progressing along the towpath and considering a promised regroup, it occurred to me that we could use the recently created ‘rest area’ opposite the factories on Tannery Lane, and so we did. There the collective memory of six hashers (CG was MIA) remembered celebrating someone’s birthday and whisky……? I claimed the birthday as mine. [From a look back in time, it was indeed a very kind offering of cake, hot chocolate and I assume whisky to liven it up, on the occasion of my 50th – and a run provided by these very hares!] See https://ph3.org.uk/run-report-1777-the-saddlers-arms-send-marsh/

Back across the navigation, past the hares and our first encounter with Prews Farm. At the point TIFM chose to stop me in my tracks, call my attention to a mushroom which he then picked and waved under my nose. When he claimed it was the deadly Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) – I was less enthused! But five yards further on I offered my own education about the numerous landfill caps sprouting up along the margin of Prews Farm – which as a former landfill is frequently monitored to ensure it not polluting the local watercourse. This explains why the whole area is a bit scruffy.

A less scruffy use of an old gravel pit was next on our agenda as we arrived at Papercourt Lake and viewed the lasers dazzling on the water in the sun by the Sailing club. Somehow Dusty and BPG allowed me to retake the lead as we sailed past Sorry John and hove to a halt on the road by Send Marsh green before returning to Prews Farm once more. The ensuing five minutes was a case of ‘tease and turn’ as the hares teased us into the (obvious?) direct route towards Broughton Hall and home, leading to the inevitable turn as time and again it was a falsie. We eventually emerged near the traffic lights in Send and some misdirection on my part by merely indicating the direction of our starting point sent Dusty off in the wrong direction.

But the last laugh was on me as having correctly found the trail to Broughton Hall Avenue and thence to the Pathway, the on in was trickily on the far side of the main road and Dusty and BPG went ahead. As in 1978, Dusty came first.

VERDICT:  A cunning run that clocked up 6 miles, but was probably closer to 5 without the falsies. One circle aside, it was expertly marked and kept us together until the on in. Many thanks to Sparkly and Wally.

IN THE PUB: We occupied the big top outside the Jovial Sailor and were expecting to see monkeys riding bicycles wearing top hats, but instead were pleased enough with some TEA and a bucket (definition: greater than a single serving) of chips. Under cross examination from Call Girl it became clear that the circle exiting Papercourt Lake was mis-kicked and/or destroyed, the fault for which the pack laid firmly at the feed of the cyclist standing by it and engrossed in a lengthy conversation. Not us guv! As the temperature dropped, so did the pack and we hope TIFM had thoroughly washed his hands as we headed for home. On on

Run Report 1938: The Anchor & Horseshoes, Burpham

G, P, S – somehow we are still not coordinated…….

Scribed by Hawkeye

Burpham bubbled to the top of the PH3 agenda and Call Girl answered that call to hare for the day. Coming from near and far were a diverse pack that varied in age from <6 to >60 but were ultimately prepared for what lay ahead. In attendance were Pis’t’man Pat, Hawkeye, A-list, Robic, Blonde Party Girl, Secret Squirrel, Tea Cosy, Wally, ADHD, Virgil, Venus, Donkey Walloper and Ginger Rogers & Ayrton Senna with our youngest recruit ‘Cadence’. All participants dismounted from their 2 or 4-wheel vehicles to start the run, but Cadence sat it out in his 3-wheel buggy.

Also out and about were Hornblower and Strumpet. No not Surrey’s most unlikely named escort service, but Sunday hares too…..as we were to find out. A regroup was promised as was a GH3 style trail but with some crosses?? I partnered with Virgil to the first non-cross of the day before retracing our route via Coltsfoot Drive and Burpham Parade where we’d already been headed, so far so predictable. However, as we passed behind Sutherland Park the first clues appeared.

The problem with a PH3 pack running a GH3 style trail, is that no matter how many times we’ve tried, we still don’t get it. So with the appearance of multiple three blob markings, arrows and a flour circle seemingly covered (expertly uncovered by Secret Squirrel) – we were utterly screwed! I liken it to algebra – there was a brief moment in 1977 when I fully comprehended the hieroglyphics and regimen, by 1978 it had gone. By the same token, Groper explained GH3 rules to me once in 2013 and by (late) 2013 the concepts were as familiar as an unbroken tory manifesto commitment (e.g. non-existent).

Anyway we headed back towards the Spectrum with a growing sense of foreboding, especially after en route we inspected the ‘mother of all back-checks’ and cursed the hare for her new found streak of deviousness. Then like your sad, drunk uncle falling off the off the roof in a Santa outfit-the penny dropped. There was another trail set alongside ours. Damn! Set in flour. Double damn!! Thoughts of any PH3 splinter group – the Peoples Front of Pis’toff’en perhaps were quickly dispelled as some familiar faces – Le Pro, Kelinchi,  Wankelsplitz and Shit For Brains – confirmed that this was a manifestation of the Surrey Hash. What could we do…..run faster, let’s try that.

And so we did and made it to a regroup beside the lake on the far side of the A3. PP was absent, but as he was ‘fresh’ from two 12hr shifts at Guildford’s premier Oktoberfest event – that was only to be expected. Actually regardless of the Oktoberfest event, it would have been expected. ADHD, running with us for the first time looked a tad bemused but as he is more familiar with GH3, our calm and logical approach was no doubt a reassurance.

With circles next to circles, blobs and arrows the good folk of Burpham could be forgiven for anticipating an imminent alien invasion. As it was we were going head-to-head with the Surrey Hash and crossed paths somewhere around Bowers Lock before crossing the A3 once more. Several runners tried to cash in their Nectar points but the on in actually took us through Weybrook Park, the Glendale Estate and past George Abbot somehow.

A general freestyle ensued but it looked like Wally took line honours. However, a subsequent stewards inquiry revealed that Ginger Rogers prevailed, as the only runner to correctly follow the trail past the allotments on the far side of the A3. Sorry Virgil – I think we called you back from that one!

VERDICT:  An interesting run given more spice by the unpredicted appearance of the Surrey Hash. It seems whether it is GH3, PH3 or SH3 – our General Positioning System has no interoperability. But many thanks to Call Girl for getting her trail laid before SH3 decided to turn up!     

IN THE PUB: A few folk needed to depart, but the remainder settled under a marquee in the garden. IPA and Guinness we consumed and after an hour in a bouncy buggy – cadence necked a quick pint of Gaviscon. Barman’s tales revealed that PP continues to apply his sense of customer service honed after many years at the Post Office – now toward his beer swilling punters. Reassuring to know that he has a bouncer to call upon for support if needed! On on.

PH3/GH3: Bob Feltham Memorial Hash, The Percy Arms, Chilworth

Scribed by Hawkeye

Following hot on the heels this week, Monday evening marked the rare occasion of a joint PH3/GH3 hash in memory of Bob Feltham aka Groper. Of course Bob ran with both hashes and was heavily involved with the Dorking and Mole Valley Athletics Club – so a numerous and diverse representation from all groups turned out. Testament to the impression he made on so many. A roll call was not possible but perhaps 50-60+ people turned up. Some to run, some to walk, all to raise a glass.

Robin Hood made an excellent hare and support for Call Girl and was apparently under strict instructions to keep it short and keep it away from the most vertical slopes. Unusually for a memorial event there were to be no crosses to mark the occasion, just as Bob would have wanted. But what will act as a lasting memorial is the plaque placed on the bench against the wall of St Martha’s church, a place which Groper and Call Girl liked to visit. I encourage you all to stop by and reflect at some point.

On the evening, in the dark having navigated the climb and after a few brief words, RH laid the first of many circles in which Bob was directly involved. An over-enthusiastic interest from an attendant dog made for a near tragi-comic moment but thankfully Dingers reined in his canine companion just in time! So from therein on whilst Groper was scattered across the hillside, his final act brought most of the pack in a much more orderly fashion than any of his numerous outings as hare ever did! I’d like to think he was smiling down on that small irony.

We will all have our own memories of Bob, for me I recall once likening PH3 and GH3 styles to the difference between Rugby Union and Rugby League, then deciding that Groper’s setting was more akin to Gaelic football! I also fondly recall staggering drunkenly round Dorking after a beer festival together that culminated in 8 people trying to get into Scooby’s car. But my first strong and abiding memory was what might have been the first run Bob set for PH3 in Brockham, circa 2013 https://ph3.org.uk/run-report-1559-the-royal-oak-brockham/  which I described as “Mad geese and the PH3 go out for a midday swim……….’ Featuring as it did the notorious ‘back-check’. After this I tried to rename him Mad Goose. And despite a dogged persistence on my part, the continued steely glare any time it was mentioned told me more than any words could that Groper it was and Groper it would always be……

Following some GH3 post-run shenanigans the sizeable pack then took over the patio deck and settled into to drink, chat, reminisce and consume the never ending supply of chips! All in all a fitting end to a lovely evening. Call Girl continues to support HASAG, the asbestos disease support charity so if you weren’t able to donate on the evening, or have a few £ to spare in memory of Groper please visit https://www.justgiving.com/hampasbestos  

You could even post your own memories of Bob below in the comments section…….?

On On.

Run Report 1937: St Mary’s Church, Horsley

Honeysuckle Bottom – my a***!

Scribed by Hawkeye

Tea Cosy has a reputation for possessing a somewhat fair weather constitution, something I am happy to perpetuate. After all, a man’s got to have a hobby. Therefore, the incessant rain on Saturday, when no doubt TC’s just-in-time reccying was in full swing, left several runners wondering what kind of a trail to expect, indeed what mood of hare to expect as we arrived at the appointed hour.

Applying an equally adept just-in-time method, Scooby Doo was last to arrive swinging into the car park just as the only free space emerged in his eye line. He joined a pack consisting of Uphill Gill, Trip Advisor, Venus, Donkey Walloper, Moondance (still walking), Robic, Hawkeye, Robin Hood, A List, Too Bright, Wally and Secret Squirrel. And whilst it may have been wet wet wet it appeared that love was all around as the hare beamed somewhat breathlessly after his morning exertions.

We set off into Sheepleas hoping that we could return looking as contented and with dry feet too. We skirted to the East of the main woodland area and with SD for company soon established a small lead, such that I had to inform a dog walker that I was checking, marking and calling circles for a group of runners….honestly. Of course such an opening lead was relatively short-lived and confusion grew as our new FRBs returned from seemingly non-trails as the pack massed along the box hedged path. I can only assume that having spent a week queuing up for petrol the majority of the pack were applying a similar ‘wait and see’ approach to what happened in front of them….

We crossed out of Sheepleas as Robic took us up Honeysuckle Bottom. As a street name, it is somewhat incongruous as despite being in the bottom of a valley, it leads inexorably to the top of the Downs. En route we encountered some ‘virtual London marathoners’ who advised Robic on the direction of the next section of trail. Five minutes later having followed that advice, found no trail and rejoined the pack at the regroup perched above Gomshall, Robic was not feeling so charitable towards the no doubt charitable runner. Thankfully that was the end of the romantically named, but leg-sapping struggle up Honeysuckle Bottom. Although it later transpired that the hare glimpsed more than a honeysuckle bottom when he was out setting, a full moon no less!

Regrouped and on the North Downs Way we hoped for a downward trajectory. This is what led me to head back down into the woods rather than along the NDW…unlike the rest of the pack. Robic soon took on front running duties again as my internal compass kept deviating to the right when in fact a straight on trajectory led to Combe Lane and the LR manoeuvre that would see us back over towards Sheepleas. Unfortunately Robic opted for a RL manoeuvre! After some delightful running we arrived at Fullers Farm and a ‘non-circle’ presumably erased by the locals. Hunching my back and backing a hunch I next popped out at the farm above Sheepleas where in full sunshine I paused for a voluntary regroup with a stunning view of London straight ahead. In the distance pounding the streets of London, Factor30 was on her last marathon of the year.

Fully regrouped once more we barrelled down towards Sheepleas once more and met more falsies once more, but in the end gravity won out and we returned whence we came an hour plus earlier. Made Marion and Jasper along with ITB and Cynthia were there to welcome us, some or other having tackled some or other of the trail, possibly in the wrong direction.

VERDICT: A corker of a trail that took us all round Sheepleas without hardly taking us through it. Enquiring whether the hare did in fact get wet on Saturday reccying, I learned that multiple reccys e.g. 10miles per day for the preceding 4 days – had ensured such a well-executed trail! Huge thanks TC, just make sure you tell F30 that you ran further than her last weekend 🙂       

IN THE PUB: The King William IVth had a welcoming garden and bar staff but a lack of beer. In fact by the time we’d managed to extract something drinkable from the cellar the weather had turned decidedly iffy. But the novelty of a post-run drink is a powerful force, so we persevered and were rewarded by the hare’s supply of chips! The next days’ memorial hash was one topic of conversation, F30 progress in the ongoing London marathon another and a proposed Xmas Hash Bash courtesy of the ever tolerant RH/Made Marion household on Sunday 5th December another. Quite some agenda…On on.

Run Report 1936: The Wotton Hatch, Wotton

Hatchback to back.….…..

Scribed by Hawkeye

Post-lockdown has been as challenging for PH3 as the pre-version. First of all we couldn’t run, then when fully jabbed and untethered; 18 months of pent up enthusiasm took us off and out and about, but unfortunately not always hashing in Surrey! Therefore, it was with some hope of a returning flock that perennial hares Venus and Virgil set a trail from the Wotton Hatch….

Post-summer enthusiasm or a sense of guilt delivered, when twelve runners and two walkers chose to reacquaint themselves with the concept we love so much. They are listed as follows Uphill Gill, Trip Advisor, Tea Cosy, Robic, Sparkly, Wally, Hawkeye, Robin Hood, Too Bright, Scooby Doo, Secret Squirrel and Dusty. Sorry John was already out and Moondance plodded off in pursuit.

The pre-run briefing revealed some minor marital strife about who had/hadn’t set a falsie here and there and Virgil waxed lyrical about the hills ahead and the lack of conflict with the Surrey Hill marathon & Ultra trail that was passing nearby en route from Leith Hill to Denbies. I believed the first part, but not the second. Secret Squirrel is famous for ‘enjoying’ a circle to kick off a run and perhaps with good cause as he and I took 2 of the falsies on offer before settling into the back of the pack as we barrelled down dale past the church.

TC had effected a Le Mans style start that did not hinder him quickly taking the lead as we looped back to cross the A25 by Balchins Lane and ascend to Wescott Church, being closely followed by Robic, Robin Hood and Dusty. He held the lead all the way up to ‘Surrey Yurts’ along narrow and overgrown paths, the very same paths on which I’ve seen him previously perilously tip-toe along the margins to avoid the all-consuming mud. A twisted ankle was a more likely outcome today.

With the option of a clock or anti-clockwise route still open, TC came a cropper at Logmore Lane and I assumed FRB duties stopping for a brief ‘how do you do’ with SJ. SJ and my greetings over the years have often rotated around the previous days’ performance of our beloved Norwich City But this weekend having played 6 games and accumulated zero points – it was the briefest of exchanges 🙁  The promised hill loomed and I used my marathon toned legs to summit and stagger to the regroup (without a view?) and await all comers.

With Scooby (or was that Rogier de Merédithe the French alpinist inexplicably running without his walking poles?) within earshot, we were itching to get going. Heading homeward too soon, we were duty bound to drop down a valley and cross paths with the marathon/ultra route, but as several of our pack returned oblivious to the existence of that event, it clearly wasn’t troublesome. Having completed said marathon before, I tried to think how the hares could avoid too much confusion so with TC correctly guessed the need to cross the Tillingbourne and Sheephouse Lane before heading north. Well almost.

As ever TC had the advantage over me, so having crossed the Tillingbourne once more, I ascended a short hill alone to join the marathon trail and start a conversation with a runner who looked decidedly confused by a random runner appearing out of the hedgerow and despite claiming not to be on the same route; knowing so much about what lay ahead! If only hashing was that predictable. We parted company and via a cul-de-sac regained the trail home and a welcome from the hares. Hatchback.

VERDICT: Whilst the briefing was disingenuous (it alluded to the North Downs) the outcome was as predicted with some leg sapping hills. But overall an excellent trail and as SJ later commented it touched on some small sections of paths rarely used. Many thanks once more to Venus & Virgil.     

IN THE PUB: My chariot awaited so I was not able to luxuriate in the post run beer and banter, so please fill in your own commentary here. I merely reflect that in the last two and consecutive runs, these hares have chosen back to back hatches. Is there a third hatch lurking somewhere soon………On On.

Run Report 1929: Lakewood Car Park, Portsmouth Road, Cobham

Slowest ‘common’ denominator….…..

Scribed by Hawkeye

It’s a fair mile from Guildford up to Cobham but not far enough to deter an enthusiastic pack from pursuing the one man wizard that is Wurzel. In floury expectation were Venus, TIFM, Hawkeye, Scooby Doo, Robic, Moondance, Factor 100, Wally and Sparkly. Virgil was largely a bystander to let his latest injury heal properly and Sorry John was the advance party.

To follow on from the previous weeks’ near invisible sawdust, the early stages of this flour-marked GH3 style trail went very well as we jinked left and right through the wood to the lake that no doubt provided the ‘inspiration’ for the imaginatively named car park we’d started from. Thereafter vandalism piled confusion upon chaos.

The hare had covered 4.5 miles in flour but (thankfully) was out to double up the distance, replay and relay his trail. I suspect without this support the pack would have raised a white flag and turned for home. Therefore, with the cart often before the horse we proceeded through prime dog walking country. They say you’re either a dog or cat person, but if a ‘dog person’ has the small minded personality to wipe out hash trail markings*, I’m glad to count myself amongst the latter. But like the pack on much of this run, I’m getting ahead of myself and putting the cart before the horse or perhaps the owner before the dog……as on several occasions during the run, what flour did remain was seen being greedily lapped up by dogs, often Labradors. So maybe we should look at our four-footed friends first?

Back on two feet what I term ‘the GH3 logic’ began to prevail as more and more would-be FRBs began to drift back behind the hare having recognised their earlier ‘rewards’ for attempting infinite false trails. So out on Esher we were now at the slowest common denominator. Our first section complete and back across the Portsmouth Road the vandalism faded and we assembled for a voluntary regroup overlooking the river Mole, except it was impossible to glimpse through the trees.

The terrain however was great for running with ample paths, plenty of tree cover and generally soft underfoot conditions. At some point we lost the background rumble of the A3 which was pleasant but also disorientating. Having half crossed the first footbridge across the A3 on the out-trail without success I guessed that the trail needed to head south towards the International School in search of a way back home. But as always knowing in your head and finding with your feet seem more than six foot apart.

We found our way across the undulating scrubby woodland, more easily following the trail now the vandals had departed, or the dogs were full. A cruel left turn around the perimeter of a palatial house fooled the first FRBs but whilst I was able to lead us through this section, I succumbed to the sound of the road and to a non-existent false trail. In the end we emerged from the woods on the slip road to the International School before crossing the A3 and adjacent common home.

VERDICT: Wurzel did his best, the vandals did their worst and the pack picked the bones out of it, but in the end we successfully completed a loop just shy of 6 miles in a little over the hour. Many thanks Wurzel for your considerable efforts both before and during the run to ensure the pack had a good morning out.

POST RUN CONVERSATION: Muggy with a threat of rain plus external commitments was enough to see the pack quickly disperse. F100 was running well (2 weeks after her 100km event) and is ticking off a half marathon next week before a couple of marathons in September. With that energetic information I headed home to an afternoon on the sofa avoiding the rain. On on.

* PH3 dog owning members obviously excluded!

Run Report 1928: Sidney Wood CP, Nr Alfold

Leaders grasp the nettle….well occasionally….…..

Scribed by Hawkeye

As I drove to Sidney Wood last weekend, I was reminded of the legend of this great Victorian explorer. Sidney, the discoverer of Chiddingfold and the first woman to complete the tricky solo ascent of the North Face of St Martha’s, and surely her most daring adventure – an expedition to Woking. The woods named in her honour surround another fading (pre-) Victorian memory – remnants of the Wey and Arun Canal.

Twenty-first century intrepid explorers ready to make the trip today included TIFM, Robic, Moondance, Hawkeye, Robin Hood, Lady Chatterley, 3s4d, Scooby Doo and Pis’t’man Pat. That’s right PH3’s most inappropriately apostrophe’ d man was back. You can’t keep a good man down, nor PP. The temperature was brewing to be the hottest day of the year and as the mercury nudged 30o the hare’s briefing spoke of copious mud to cope with. I was already considering wallowing in it. We were also warned of near invisible sawdust, so whilst this was set in PH3 style – in parts it would turn into a GH3 style free for all. Talking of GH3, with the GMs and several other twin-hatters absent, rumours circulated of a pre-freedom day GH3 get away. I always imagine a GH3 trip descending in to farce as the pack scatters in all directions at the first roundabout – never to regroup again. But maybe that’s just me.

Our first five minutes was spent unsuccessfully leaving the car park. The next eighty more successfully out on the trail. For this run, rhythm and flow were an eternal challenge, within the woods the sawdust faded to obscurity, out in the open the temperature rose incredibly – a hard day ensued. We slithered through some early mud looking for ways to exit the treacherous canal towpath. It was good to have SD back in the pack, he may be lacking stamina but the decibel count always increases when he’s in the lead. Which he was for a while as he helped pilot me out of the woods and around some high value housing.

We made a voluntary regroup in an appropriately shaded spot which according to TIFM turned out to be next to a field of scabious. Field of Scabious, the difficult second album by Hamsters are the Master Race. Those familiar with the pre-run briefing were expecting overgrown paths and scratchy legs but only SD had opted for full trousers, the others presuming them to be too hot. And then we arrived at our collective downfall. As places to come a cropper, there could be worse as the pack struggled to find an ongoing trail, with circumstances such as multiple paths and no circle (we had missed the cross), a large trail and no markings (we had missed the cross) and little other choices ( I didn’t like the look of the waist high nettles). Much toing and froing and cursing ensued. Eventually we found the cross that was so obviously placed that it was comical – and decided to grasp the nettle.

The nettles made way for more glutinous mud and led to FRB Moondance going all ‘Zola Budd’ as he carried on whilst one of his shoes didn’t. This path brought us back into the ambit of the old canal, and it shows the level of disorientation that I then spent considerable efforts in trying to turn right when in fact ‘home’ was more of a hard-left direction.

The on in extended somewhat further than I expected and Robic, Moondance and I broke away for a short while in pursuit of a consistent route home. I backed a hunch to cross the old canal and shouted that an immediate right fork was necessary in the verdant surroundings. This message clearly didn’t carry, meaning the next runners either forked right off or were forked right off. We returned in good order to the welcome of two relieved-looking hares. 3s4d went astray somewhere but eventually found his way home ten minutes later.

VERDICT: To the hares’ consternation the pack had covered approximately 7 miles that contradicted with their claim of 6.4 including falsies. I’m no techno-geek but from a quick google it boils down to GPS watches using direct satellite fixing and phone apps using relays via masts etc. and averaging out any errors. When the top tip to get an accurate reading on your phone is “First, try to choose outdoor routes along open, relatively flat areas whenever possible. Dense, overhead foliage, tall buildings and other types of satellite or cellular interference make for greater inaccuracies”, I think you can draw your own conclusions!

But many thanks to the hares Easily Overlooked and Secret Squirrel for their efforts, the trail was generally well marked but sadly the colour of the sawdust and sunshine made it very difficult to follow.

POST RUN CONVERSATION: Cooling down was the first task as we ambled round the shaded but sticky car park.  PP was grilled on his new lodgings etc. and even offered to welcome us for a weekend hash at some point. SD was so enlivened by the run that he offered to buy the drinks in the nearby and appropriately named Sun Inn. But with prior commitments or a need for a lie down in the shade, for the majority ‘A run & on their Wey’ was enough excitement for the day. On on.

WEY & ARUN FOOTNOTE: For those interested (perhaps just me!), the roadworks on the bend by the car park are in fact preparatory for a new road bridge (and adjacent footbridge) that will be within the width of the existing highway. When the bridge is completed and the road reopened to traffic, a new canal cut some 200yards long will be excavated below the bridge and will then curve around to re-join the original canal to the west of the old crossing.

Run Report 1927: Old Guildford Road Car Park, Near Deepcut

We’ll keep the red flag flying here…..

Scribed by Hawkeye

TIFM has a habit, one of many, of appropriating other people’s venues for his own. A trait borne of lethargy or economy, or perhaps a general lack of cartographic support. I’ll let you decide. A stoic but slim pack were assembling beside the Old Guildford Road as I undulated along it from the other direction whilst simultaneously trying to keep my feet dry. The pack included Too Bright, Wurzel, ITB, Cynthia, Virgil, Venus and daughter ‘new Chloe’.

The hare had used one of those new-fangled mobile phone things to try and contact me during the morning, but without success. But after a complete failure to find a single blob after the first circle, I repaid the compliment and extracted some basic information such as it was generally to GH3 style and generally anti-clockwise. Venus made the initial breakthrough and we were off, though in fact I think we somehow short-cutted to an early section of the trail and avoided the sinuous section that Virgil spotted during his solo walking. Anyway no harm done.

This is ‘Wurzel territory’ and thankfully he was along for the morning to keep an eye on things. Sadly this did not include tree roots and an early tumble nearly took him headfirst into the Basingstoke Canal which might have been a softer landing than the ground that came up to meet him. With such a small group, survival and route finding shared equal footing so Venus, Too Bright, Cynthia etc. – all took up the cudgels.

Heathland and pine woods can be very disorienting environments. Combined they completely threw my internal compass, though with an undulating terrain there were some (painful) landmarks to mark our progress. And as is often the case a sense of familiarity grew within the pack as we struggled in the wake of FRB Wurzel. This was because in large part we were running Wurzel’s trail (see RR1908), but in reverse – Lezruw if you like.

All was going well until we regained the BOAT that is the Old Guildford Road. From my earlier pedestrian entrance I knew the trail would appear here but had not spotted that it tracked diametrically away from the car park. We followed somewhat reluctantly right up to Mychett Place Road where the trail appeared to cross the road but then petered out. All options (and the pack) exhausted we looked again at the path, the locked gate and the red flag fluttering in the gentle morning breeze……..I’d like to say that my phone call with TIFM was like a scene from M*A*S*H with live shells falling all around as he cowered to hear my voice, but in reality it was more prosaic than that.

With just over 4 miles on the clock the pack agreed that the direct route back to the CP was the best/safest option, so they paddled the boat home. Meanwhile I waited to see that the hare escaped the firing squad (see photograph). Having exchanged pleasantries with the hare who swore blind (was blind?) that the red flag was not flying earlier, I departed on foot back to Whitmoor Common to complete my ‘long run’. No doubt ‘New Chloe’ set off to contact social services or adoption services?! Having anticipated a morning mileage of 7-6-7, it ended with 8-4-8, either of which would have been a good formation for the England football team later that evening.

VERDICT: You can’t fault the enthusiasm or the execution, just the preparation. Without a full reccy or reliable map coverage the hare got carried away and nearly carried off in a box. From my brief conversation with the hare, I understand he’d set another two to three miles in the closed off firing ranges. So the packs’ escape was maybe a mercy killing after all.

POST RUN CONVERSATION: Making my own sinuous route around the ranges home, I was not present at any post run debrief, but the pack was in good humour and perhaps relieved not to have strayed as far as the hare. So maybe the hare dodged a bullet there too….Perhaps when the hare returned he claimed that when he checked on the internet the ranges were not due to be closed, or more likely that the red flag wasn’t shown on his 1980 copy of the Surrey A-Z. On on.

TIFM escaping the firing squad!