A couple of my neighbours thought I might enjoy this. After some rearrangement of commitments I decided to join them and give it a try. I packed my gear into a small bag and we set off, the three of us, to rendezvous with the others.
After about half an hour we pulled into the car park of a small country pub where we joined another group. Fidgety, nervously smiling. Others came, quietly, some not so. Finally about 40 of us set off across fields until we came to a point of decision. Medium or Large.
Large, sir. The group split and we set off across more fields, then up through woodland carpeted with bluebells, fallen logs and dead leaves from a winter just gone.
Some stragglers struggled with the loose footing. Others scampered to the top with excitement. Almost hungry. Unsure, I stayed in the middle, watching the routine, the form. Holding my own.
I check my fellow men. Friendly, all ages. No prejudice. Lost for a while.
Down through a valley kissed by an evening sunset sparkling in the stream that runs beside us. A stile. A bridge. Further and further away. More hill climbing along cracked wooded tracks scarred by winters’ melt. Dogs weave beside us, enjoying the freedom.
It’s a warm evening and we’re feeling the exertion. The stickiness seeps in familiar places.
Then suddenly a turn behind a rundown barn, neglected yet proud, and we are careering downhill. Too steep. Dangerous even. Some slip in the gravel. A passerby gawps. His quiet country walk shattered by this rabble flock. Still no sign of home or car. A rest at a bridge. River below.
Someone calls before we get too comfortable and we must go again. Along the river this time. Dodging branches above and below. A long long trail this time to a dark pinchpoint through which the evening light squints into the woodland.
And then, as if by magic, we’re back at the car park by the country pub. Six miles cross-country in an hour. Sweaty bodies wipe down and spray with the latest Bird-Puller for Men. Change into something less smelly. And then two of the finest pints of ale you can imagine. It doesn’t matter if it’s Badger Piss. I need a drink.
“It is said that “If you have half a mind to join the Hash, that’s all it takes”
Hashing is a form of non-competitive cross-country running with the main objective of working up a decent thirst. Great emphasis is placed on the social aspects – particularly the refreshment session at the aprés-hash. It’s a fun activity and must not be taken at all seriously. “