Run Report 1512: The Punchbowl Inn, Okewood Hill

Lost in translation
Scribed by Secret SquirrelIt required something of a feat of navigation to get to the start of this week’s run, as the directions omitted the crucial detail of a right turn in Ewhurst. As published we were told to “…continue into Cranleigh and turn left to Ewhurst. This road should take you past the Polo Ground (on your left) and on to the turning where you see Walliswood on your left. …”. However for future reference an extra sentence is needed in the middle of this section, something like “…continue into Cranleigh and turn left to Ewhurst. At the sharp left bend as you come into Ewhurst turn right, signposted “Ellen’s Green 3, Horsham 8½” on a road called “The Green”. This road should take you past the Polo Ground …” We may never know how many potential hashers continued blithely along the B2127 through Ewhurst, past the Bull’s Head and on towards Forest Green desperately searching for a polo ground, and never to be seen again.Mind you, navigation was not a strong point for the hare this week either, as he got lost whilst setting the trail, having failed to follow his planned route then or on his previous recce’s! Perhaps there is another version of the Bermuda Triangle here in West Sussex. But I am getting ahead of myself.Those who did successfully find their way to the start included Scooby Doo, TIFM, Virgil, Venus de Milo (formerly known as Lap Dancer), DVD (good to see her running again and her mobile trip hazard, Poppy), Tom-tom, Sparkly, Belisha, Diego, Sorry John, Nat the Hat, Secret Squirrel and late starters (again) Lazy Monkey and New Jenny. 11 cars for 14 runners didn’t do much for our environmental credentials this week, and it was disappointing not to see El Caudello on his motorbike at a venue that is practically on his doorstep. The hare was not present to give us a briefing but he had left some written instructions for us which Sparkly had retrieved from a wheel-arch on his car. The novelty of having such information, including a pretty drawing of a footpath/bridle path sign and headed “In the event of Difficulties at Dawes Farm”, should have given us all more pause for thought – but as none of us tried to look at a map and find Dawes Farm we all remained in ignorance of just how far away these “difficulties” lay.

The first part of the trail was fine, as we headed generally eastwards with a big loop to the south before crossing the A29 and continuing to the east. Then we found a cross without a preceding circle and had to search around for a bit before finding an alternative trail off the road and through some woods. (PP explained afterwards that the circle there was spread on top of ivy leaves and had possibly got blown away). Luckily we all found the way, including our back markers, and headed off into the unknown. The next part is all a bit of a blur in my memory (and also the hare’s understanding). There were woodland bogs, open field bogs, boggy tracks, and then some well-drained chalk down land (had we reached the South Downs? No, not quite). Various falsies were taken to left and right, Virgil got caught out by a particularly long one in this section. Finally we emerged onto a road and turned right. Some thought we were doing an anti-clockwise circuit and kept looking for routes to the left, these souls were quite convincing because they were thought to have local knowledge, but checking up on the map afterwards demonstrates that they were well outside their area of expertise. One circle here provided a natural regroup as we tried everything except the way on along the road. Next came an unforgettable ploughed field to cross, it was like no-man’s land at the Battle of the Somme (but luckily without the machine guns), ankle-twisting, calf-busting, shoe-sucking ridges of sticky clay with furrows between them like trenches.

Emerging from this nightmare we crossed another road (the A29 once more, if we did but know it) and began to see signs indicating that we were close to the dreaded Dawes Farm (cue music – Da Da Da Daaaa !!). And here was PP waiting in his Beamer to drive along in front of us, and lead us to our fate. …. Emerging on the other side we were inclined to wonder what the fuss was all about, it had seemed no more difficult to find our way through there than anywhere else. We never did find the “metal gate (which has an additional catch on it)”, but the (unmentioned) electric gate could have worried some of us. Maybe the possibility of an irate landowner if we had got a bit confused was in PP’s mind. What we did learn from our motoring hare was that there were still about two miles to go, and it was already well past 12 o’clock, sensible girl Belisha was by this time sitting in the car (ignoring the advice of her mother all those years ago not to accept lifts from strange men).

Those final 2 miles are even less clear in my memory, although there was a very big hill to climb across an open meadow where I distinctly recall steadily catching up with Venus even though she was running and I was walking (oxygen starvation can play strange tricks on the mind). Poor old Scooby Doo bought a horrible falsie here, losing the lead for the umpteenth time of the morning and never regaining it, so that Virgil could claim line honours while Lazy Monkey could claim to have completed the course in the shortest time.

VERDICT: This was about two very good runs joined together into one very long run. The SatNav thingies apparently said it was about 7.5 miles, but it felt more like 9 miles to me. Nobody was back before 12:30 and Nat the Hat didn’t reappear until well after 1pm. On the whole the trail was well marked and there was no vandalism, so Nat had managed to follow it (but she did find one important circle unkicked). I know it is like trying to hold back the tide to ask our dear Pis’t’man Pat for moderation in anything, but please have mercy on our aging ankles, knees, hips, lungs and brains Graham and try for 5 to 6 miles next time! Meanwhile many thanks for the huge effort which this trail must have entailed.

AT THE PUB: This is a lovely pub! Admittedly there was no fire burning this week, but there were comfy leather sofas and plenty of stools and chairs, and there was Badger Beer! Most of us drank a beer with a name like “Firkin something” (but I cannot remember it exactly and it isn’t listed on the Badger website) which was absolutely stunning. So if any of you readers can remember its name please include it in a comment below. Huge bowls of excellent chips were served, and I think the mayonnaise was to Sparkly’s satisfaction. Gradually our weary limbs and our sense of humour began to recover, and the urge to strangle the hare began to recede. Sorry John had his laptop with photos of sap emerging from recently cut tree stumps and then freezing as it flowed – extraordinary! PP had his map with a multitude of red lines covering vital clues as to where he might have intended the trail to go. And Nat the Hat finally turned up just before the last chips were consumed, saving PP from having to organise a search party. In short a day just like any other in the 1511 days of the history of the Pis’toff’en, except somehow different as well and that’s what keeps us turning out on a Sunday morning.


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