Scribed by Hawkeye
Dr Beeching is a much reviled figure in the Hornby and Mackintosh Arms, but I for one think his cultural contribution to English rural life has been overlooked and understated. Sure, he forced areas into rural poverty and in doing so put his foot down on the accelerator of an already petrol-fuelled economy but on the upside he did create a further 4,000 miles of generally level, well drained running track for us hashers! A sizeable portion of which TIFM used to set this run.
Arriving promptly for the 11am departure from the Kings Head were Dissa, El Caudello, Sparkly, Wally, Scooby Doo, Secret Squirrel and Pis’t’man Pat. Fumbling with his car keys and the correct change for a ticket was yours truly. The hare was nowhere to be seen……
But thankfully his sawdust was. To stretch the metaphor a little beyond its use (like Billy Graham’s knees at tennis) this pub, like public transport seems to come along in clumps, as not having been here for eons, we managed to run twice within a month. So when we headed up the church path it was with a heavy heart and wrinkling toes for the mudfest that awaited in short order. You could call it that sinking feeling.
Indeed having been promised a different trail to El Caudello’s – the identical out trail was unpromising. But then it veered south and into new territory. Unfortunately it was into new territory of the type that Dr Stanley probably used in preparation for his pursuit of Stanley. A couple of months back I thought we’d stumbled across a new micro-climate when out running from Henley when we ascended a steep hill simultaneously through a bog. But these vertical bogs are now common place, think, Rowledge and now Rudgwick. I was complimented upon my uphill skating skills, but as SS pointed out it was just a question of momentum, if you slowed or stalled you really were glued to the spot.
But the sun was out and there was a pub at the end so stoically, stickly we plodded on. SS had it all sussed, his running was first class his route finding pre-ordained. Either that or he’d sneaked a look at the map before leaving home. But that’s what you call ‘preparation’, unless you are a professional cyclist where the phrase has a completely different heritage. So despite a low sun dazzling us and a farmyard trail teaser to trouble us SS led Scooby and I ever onwards. And the rest slithered on in close pursuit.
And so unto the Beeching dear friends, where having dripped and slipped our way round, we were pleased to ascend the slight and free draining embankment that marked the once Shoreham to Bramley section of a long forgotten railway line. Being generally 2-way affairs we weren’t too disorientated to pick the right direction of track back toward Rudgwick. En route SS called a halt to proceedings for a regroup on the ‘double bridge’ – where an additional bridge had to be applied to cross the Arun at a level such that the gradient was more to the liking of the Board of Control, I’m assuming under the command of the Fat Controller. Our haremeister Pis’t’man Pat was the last to join us at the regroup, puffing better than Thomas the tank engine.
The on in was across the A281 and via the railway line once more. And whatever the gradient, benign or not it taxed our weary legs. At some point along here the hare lost the trail and/or his bottle and rather than stick to the off road option we bailed out for a last half mile slog through the streets. But no matter we were back and at just past the hour. On time for most train journeys.
VERDICT: An unpromising and sticky start, but an interesting and dry-footed finish. Thanks Simon.
IN THE PUB: TIFM chooses his runs based on the pub which is as it should be and in this particular regard we were well rewarded. The local WJ King Sussex bitter was fantastic as so I understand was the Harveys, even more tasty for not having an apostrophe. We acquired (and I think Sparkly adopted) a new friend – Ruby the (King Charles?) spaniel – who had a very refined palate for an ale and probably the copious chips that were to soon follow. The conversations varied but alighted on the fact that SS admitted to being a ‘tower grabber’ and following a conversation about elderly bell-ringers, someone opined that ‘they hoped that when they were 89, someone would still be pulling on their rope’. I say someone, as they asked to remain nameless as apparently Mrs Goggins reads the run reports……..On on!
GARMIN LINK: 1501