Run Report 1523: Denbies Vineyard, Dorking

A vine old time…..
Scribed by Hawkeye

For a drinking club with a running problem, commencing our run in a vineyard car park seemed a damned fine proposition. Start as you mean to go on. So was this going to be a sparkling running or one with heavy legs, those with the bottle to find out were Dash, Moondance, Robic, Cinderella plus sister ‘new Emma’, El Caudello, Sparkly, Where’s Wally, Secret Squirrel, Nat the Map, TIFM, Bob (aka Groper from the GH3), Uphill Newman & Paul Gill, Billy Graham and Man in Black. Balthazar, Jeroboam and Nebuchadnezzar were otherwise indisposed. So a fine selection of runners, old and new and whilst some of the aforementioned might have qualified in the fuller bodied category the real vintage runner (on account of his absence for c5 years) was Canny Lad. So in age range we were 15-60+, in maturity 15+ just. We also had the four-legged company of Moss and Jasper.

Our hares gave some briefing though the chattering and reminiscing largely overrode that. And we were off, Canny Lad choosing to walk rather than run on his first outing of the decade. Pretty soon we’d all be walking rather than running as the one clear pre-run instruction was not to shortcut between the vines. But given the complexity and deviousness of the early section, this was an instruction that was difficult to uphold, eh El Caudello.

Dash was on a mission and seemed to get all the early circles right, the rest of us followed in pursuit. The hares had chosen to accompany us – maybe in reaction to the recent “The Wotton Incident”, but being sandwiched between Virgil and Venus was an uncomfortable spot. At the back Virgil was cajoling and chastising the laggards to keep up the pace whilst at the front Venus was tempting us into all the wrong places. Such as where having completely circumnavigated the vineyard we espied Venus sitting nonchalantly amongst the grapes. Of course this tease delivered as we all ran past the circle toward her and discounted the actual route which closed close but not back over itself. Sur lie this could not be the right way to go…….oh yes it was. If it had four legs and a bushy tail it could not have been more cunning.

Now I’m all for organic farming and wine for that matter, but the air in the vineyard was thick with flies, mosquitoes and numerous other invertebrates. With perhaps the inevitable consequences………sommelier, sommelier there’s a fly in my throat/eye.

Picking up the late running Cinderella sisters and after nearly 25 minutes we exited the vineyard with our starting point still not more than a few hundred yards away! But drunk on the possibilities we’d explored. But what ensued was to be even more intoxicating as we traversed a section of chestnut woodland carpeted in a mixture of fresh green ferns and vibrant bluebells- spellbinding. Sparkly captured that and other shots available on the website homepage. But unfortunately we were still going uphill. That said the front runners were continually being thwarted. Reaching the top of the hill I sensed that some were ready to Spumante and Sparkly called for a regroup which we affected at walking pace along the lane by the Denbies Estate – owned by the appropriately named Mr Rose (actually I’m told it’s White, honest)

Behind us who knew what bedlam was unfolding, lots of wining I assume, but I like to think that like a good wine El Caudello was allowed to breathe for a short while and that Nat the Map was not starting to flagon…..

What followed the regroup turned into a downhill, pell-mell of an on in and the pack disappeared as quickly as a pint in the company of PP. Overcoming our inhibitions to drop down the hill on this side, for fear of crossing that complex circuit amongst the vines we were rewarded with an undulating path that took us around our earlier misdemeanours. The penultimate circle (as so often) proved to be decisive and allowed SS, BG and Moondance to steal a lead, I’m not sure this was divined upon intuition or a desire to follow (rather closely) a lady in lycra who turned out to have nothing to do with us, particularly after BG’s heavy breathing pursuit. Anyway, we re-entered the vineyard and kicked for home. Bin there, done it – bin end ahead. Line honours…well I’m pleased to report that En Primeur was one of the many grandmasters present – SS. By a nose.

VERDICT: This was no run ordinaire, but a Classico. Indeed you’d be hard pressed to find anyone with a bad word to say. The Garmin read out looks more like an etch-a-sketch such was the complexity of the route. So I take my hat off to you Venus & Virgil, or as they don’t say in France – Chateau! We adjourned to the Stepping Stones for our own Eau De Vie…..

IN THE PUB: It would be uncharitable of me to suggest that TIFM dressed somewhat Chablis or that we missed PP but managed to talk our own versions of noble rot. And in fact with the sun out we retired to the garden with the dog. There we again enjoyed the local Falls Gold and not so local Doombar, to accompany the copious chips and condiments. All in all not a bad day out, a mere hop, grape and a run. On on.


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