Run Report 1879: The Grantley Arms, Wonersh

Wind in the willows, birches, beeches, pines and hollies…..

Scribed by Hawkeye

By midweek Sorry John our resident Nostradamus and Health and Safety advisor with a running problem was forewarning of trouble ahead. This came in the shape of Storm Ciara and an amber weather warning. Amber warnings are familiar enough territory to PH3 but are usually noted as “hey that barrel of nicely hopped amber ale is about to run out, get a round in quick”. So the GM dutifully ignored something merely about a bit of a breeze. As it happens, I once knew a girl called Ciara who was somewhat tempestuous, was well-known to blow pretty hard sometimes and could best be described as stormy which was probably not what they were thinking when they started naming storm systems!

Taking their life in their hands had been the heroic hares Robic and Moondance and with social media assurance via the GMs a frankly certifiable pack assembled around Wonersh Green in the teeth of a gale. These included Robin Hood, Ayrton Senna, Madonna, Scooby Doo, Wally, Hawkeye, 3s4d, Lady Chatterley, Gingerly Rogers, Pis’t’man Pat, Secret Squirrel, Virgil, Venus, Quasimodo, Satisfaction Guaranteed, TIFM and Easily Overlooked (probably). Sparkly was the beefeater for the day. There was a briefing which was barely audible, sounded like the last rites and was only memorable for watching the hare’s hat alight and disappear at high speed across the common. It was our sign to leave too.

I am sure we have run in more challenging conditions, but I struggle to recall any right now. Out in the open the gusts were foot destabilising and it was generally raining whereas in the woods it was raining – branches! Rain sodden sawdust, streaming eyes and slippery footing made for a tricky start that doubled behind the village hall before heading towards Little Tangley Manor and plentiful horse fields. Some big falsies threw off a few folk and slippery paths with adjacent barbed wire delayed others. Somehow inevitably we crested the hill towards Blackheath admiring the recently decapitated trees and considered how far out we were prepared to stick our necks.

The regroup with the hares was hardly any more reassuring as we watched mesmerised as 50ft pines swayed on a 50degree arc as the storm raged on around us. And then, blow me – the onward trail went straight up and under the very same trees. We arrived towards Littleford Lane and followed the fast running SS – adrenaline can do that to a man. We next made for a small downhill section on road before taking an unusual turn (as in rarely used) to the West and discovered a startling and enviable (depending on your preferred vernacular style preferences) house, completely obscured from the road and any runners knowledge.

Also somehow escaping the hares’ knowledge was any pre-warning of a treacherous and unavoidable boggy section, though to be fair we were safer up to our ankles in the quagmire than we were risking our necks in the woods. Having escaped this we quickly learned that this was to be a BOGOF day, try one bog, get another one free! And then it dawned on us why we never use this path……We emerged on to the main road by St John’s Catholic Seminary and reined back Madonna’s enthusiasm to cross the road by accepting the existence of a back-check on a PH3 trail and following the knowing SS back northwards.  SD was also suffering from a Proustian rush as we were running round his former bailiwick.

We next had a full on encounter with a Holly. As it happens, I once knew a girl called Holly who….no no I think I’ve exhausted that theme today! No, the holly in question was a full grown tree that had full blown blocked the path from barbed wire to bog. I painfully scrambled through only to find no immediate trail on the other side which coupled with a prior paucity of markings was enough to send the pack back down the path. I eventually scrambled back through……only to see the pack returning and insistent that ‘through the tree’ was the only way. So I went through it for a third time! And then assorted hashers invested some time and considerable skin in breaking enough of the prickly branches away to allow easier passage for later runners.

Thoroughly exhausted we next had to summit Barnett Hill and canter down and safely home. ‘Local boys’ SD and SS taking line honours, the tree fellers society followed on shortly.

VERDICT: In hindsight it’s a tough call as to who can claim to be the maddest, the hares or the hounds, but as I later watched the storm continue from the comfort of my sofa there was a personal realisation that PH3 is not prepared to just let life pass it by, we want to be active participants – and all the better for it I’d say. So huge thanks to the heroic hares and foolhardy followers our collective reward was a bit of a breeze and some ruddy cheeked entertainment. I’m guessing this will be a well-remembered run.

IN THE PUB: The Grantley arms was our welcome port in a storm and with Shere Drop and TEA to choose from, I took the falsie by opting for the own brand Pale Ale, which was pale in comparison. Rumours that former active PH3 hare and hound – Wot No Brains had been spotted nearby didn’t lead to his appearance.

So, we discussed the Surrey version of the Beaufort scale (which is used to categorize the strength of wind) ranging from “breezy enough to agitate an Armani scarf” through “capable of dislodging champagne bottles from an exposed recycling bin to “sufficiently strong enough to place a kid’s trampoline on a local railway line”. Late starters Georgia on my mind and ‘New Tom’ joined us and were suitably impressed by the communal hot water bottle (a Robic invention), the ‘Best chips ever’ (a Robic and Moondance purchase), and assorted wild and windy banter. In fact I often finish my report with the time honoured comment “you had to be there”, but on this occasion with the three words ‘Kettles, pants and salad cream’ written in my notebook, even I can’t do that statement justice….as I was there but…….? On On

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