Navigation, navigation, navigation (to misquote “Sir” Tony Blair!)
Scribed by Secret Squirrel
Sunday morning dawned (eventually) cold, bright and crisp. There had been quite a sharp frost but the sky was clear and blue so it promised to be a fine morning for a run. I called Dusty to see if he was interested in joining in the fun and not only did I manage to persuade him to change his plans and come out to play, but I also managed to inveigle a lift out of him into the bargain – a win win! At 10:30 he was outside my house in his little sports car and I dropped down into its low-slung seat feeling very happy. Now, there are 3 possible routes from Tilehouse Road to the A3 northbound:- a) goes up Pilgrims Way and Warwicks Bench, past G-Live and out through Burpham, b) goes through the town centre and the gyratory to Ladymead then right along the A25 to the Stoke traffic lights, and c) also uses the gyratory but then takes York Road past Waitrose before a left turn onto Stoke Road past Guildford College to the Stoke traffic lights. Route a) involves just two sets of traffic lights plus 5 sets of pedestrian crossing lights, route b) involves 8 traffic lights and 5 pedestrian lights, and c) has 9 traffic lights and 5 pedestrian lights – so which way do you think Dusty chose to use? Yup, route c, and almost all of the traffic lights were against us. Luckily we had left in good time so this wasn’t a big problem but I did hope that Dusty’s lack of navigation skill would help me when it came to hashing.
Arriving at the designated car park by the Ockham Bites Café we were greeted by scenes of mayhem and anarchy as too many people tried to park their cars in a limited amount of space. I have no idea what they were all doing there (it was the wrong time of day for the activities popularly associated with this area) and only a handful were looking out for Wally & Sparkly in order to follow their hash trail. With some careful double-parking of known hashers’ cars we were all able to secure a space and take advantage of the toilet facilities before assembling for our hares’ briefing. The eager pack included Call Girl, TIFM, Factor 30, Virgil, Venus, Uphill Gill, Trip Advisor, Wurzel, Robin Hood, Dusty and Secret Squirrel. Early starting walkers included Robic, Moondance and Sorry John.
We were told that there would be 2 re-groups, that the trail was laid in PH3 style with marked falsies, and we should be able to keep our feet dry. Also, Wally would follow us as checking-chicken. We managed to exit the car park with some difficulty due to the ongoing parking havoc and headed out into the woods to the north-east with a sense of relief. Of course, running in this part of the world entails a continuous hum of traffic noise as we would never be very far from a major road, but the usual mix of sunshine above and a soft carpet of pine needles underfoot soon helped us to ignore that disturbance. Where the sun had not yet got through the undergrowth there were still some patches of ice on puddles but we were generally able to skip over these with nimble footwork.
Alas, my hopes that Dusty’s odd navigation on the road would be continued on the hash proved to be unfounded, he was on a mission and seemed to have a map in his head as he led us almost faultlessly to the first re-group by the old Semaphore Tower. As we waited for the slower runners to join us Wally looked up to the heavens and drew our attention to an apparently imminent disaster as two high-flying aircraft were on collision courses above our heads – they crossed unscathed as they must have been at different altitudes, but it did look scary for a moment. Does that count as a “near miss”, I wonder? Their vapor trails left a perfect advert for the Halifax. Back down to earth we were spared the next falsie as the ever impatient TIFM had explored it for us, so, rather than heading on towards the M25 bridge we have often used in the past, we turned more to the south and out onto some open heathland. For once Dusty was not leading us, but Virgil soon squandered his advantage, as he would do quite often on this run, by exploring hopeless falsies.
We crossed Old Lane, negotiated someone’s driveway, and headed out onto the great open space of the old Wisley Airfield. We were actually quite a close pack but Wally asked us to pause for an unscheduled re-group to allow CG to catch up again. Actually, Wally wanted to give us a lecture about the significance of the strange circular construction sitting in the open field to the south of us and looking like an alien spaceship. Apparently, it is a navigation beacon indicating a key circling point for aircraft stacking overhead while waiting permission to land at Heathrow (I think – Ed. please confirm). It sends out direction signals over 360 separate directions so that the crews can locate themselves accurately with respect to it (is that really still necessary with SatNavs in our cars accurate to a few feet?). I wondered to myself why they had to build it on the farmland while just a few yards away there were acres of empty old runway tarmac. Anyway, the radio signals must have interfered with Virgil’s instruments because he set off across the field, ignoring the fact that TIFM had once again failed to wait and this time had kept going along the runway and off into the sunset. Dusty made no such mistake and was soon hot on TIFM’s tail.
Leaving the airfield behind us, we went into the woods again and I struggled to keep Dusty in sight as he sped, as though on rails, through the trees and over the A3 to the edge of the Wisley Gardens. We could all agree that we had to turn right before we got to the huge car parks, and indeed we crossed onto the heathland area that is south of the M25 and west of the A3. Virgil had caught up with me as we arrived at a circle just by Wisley but, yet again, he backed the wrong hunch and explored another falsie. I guessed correctly and soon spotted Dusty nonchalantly resting against a tree in the sunshine at the third re-group – I don’t think he had put a foot wrong since the airfield re-group. The run-in from here was fairly direct as it had to go over the other A3 bridge, but there were several opportunities to get our feet wet on the way. For once Virgil made no mistakes. I passed S-J and his dogs just yards before the café, so he had timed his walk to perfection.
We met up with Robic and Moondance, who had walked the trail earlier and had an amusing story about someone they met along the way – apparently a young horse rider had thought that our sawdust crosses were indications of ritual sacrifices being carried out in the woods!
Verdict:This was a most enjoyable run. The weather was kind to us, especially the sunshine when we were on the airfield. There was little vandalism to disrupt our progress, despite the large number of people out in the woods with dogs and children. And the main pack kept together quite well, apart from Virgil who kept on disappearing into the undergrowth like a wayward Labrador. Thank you Wally and Sparkly for a lovely morning’s entertainment, this was a great way to start the New Year (for those of us who couldn’t get to Yew Tree Farm the week before).
At the Pub: We gathered in the crowded car park and a discussion was held over where to go next. Quite a few of us were up for The Jovial Sailor at Ripley (on the strength of the good-value buckets of chips that they sold last time we were there) with its huge tent covering a large area for outdoor eating and drinking. But someone (Sparkly, I think) did mention bacon butties at the café and Virgil couldn’t get these out of his mind. So, sadly, we separated into two groups with the Dorking Mob staying for the café food and the rest of us heading to Ripley. At The Jovial Sailor they have now added an outdoor bar counter, so it wasn’t even necessary to go inside the pub – although the bar service for real ales did take a long time. We tried the open air and sunshine but eventually decided that it was actually warmer in the shade under the tent (and the seats there were dry, unlike those outside). Wally’s bucket of chips did not disappoint! But an order which included a pot of tea and a pint of TEA did nearly confuse the bar staff – at least this week there were some of us consuming alcohol … !!