Gt Hampden is a perfect spot for midsummer madness and that season was finally upon us.
On arrival we were shepherded into the back field where we could do little to disrupt this country idyll.
As we assembled for the circle Poppy and Fred, touched by the spirit of Puck, chased each other for a few hundred circles to warm up. Helles announced 5.8 and 3.8 mile routes, unaware of how inaccurate the latter figure would prove to be. There would be no cows on this run so Jo could relax.
We hared off in a south easterly direction across the common into the coppice. It did not go unnoticed that at least one of the hares was running the on-backs.
The going was uneventful until we approached the tennis club on Honor End Lane. At that point it became evident that we were short one hound who's hound (Fred) was still with the pack. Charlotte, who had been noticeably active in running the checks, had come adrift from the pack and was looking for the pack, the trail, Fred or whatever. Was Fred looking for Carlotte? Seemingly not.
We took the opportunity of a nice breather while Charlotte was located and reunited with Fred. Then we crossed into Lodge Wood where the pack bunched up and your scribe luckily survived a Moose attack by guess who.
We then struck out over corn fields and eventually onto a wide, straight, grassy incline with a surface, presaged by Hawkeye, for which the word "rough" would prove inadequate as we reached the summit. Your scribe failed to find out what this feature was/ had been. Charlotte made a limp excuse and twisted her ankle. (She was still limping badly as we left the pub many hours and miles further on.) Looking at a map later, it seems to have been a driveway to the mansion that we were to meet later in the run.
The long-short split was at the top of this incline, the sorts heading west and the longs north towards Little Hampden. There followed a long stretch of uphill field-side path lay ahead with plenty of on-backs.
Reaching the top of this stretch we relaxed into a nice woody path before coming out at the top of a hill with a great view. It felt like downhill from here.
We supposed that the shorts would by now be back at the pub tucking into the chips but oh no. Having forgotten the directions from the long-short split and despite the provision a map, they decided to navigate by means of Audrey's phone which had run out of battery power. This turned out to extend their route to some 6 miles (so they say) and brought them in well behind the longs. Did the logs save them some chips? Sort of.
For a change this was no fault of Mike (or Judy) as, after a pleasant walk, they were tucking into 3 courses at the pub. (Recommended.)
Meanwhile the longs soon arrived at this elegant mansion that, according to Helles, is now a conference centre and from there they passed a nice little church and so on in to the On Inn.
The chips were plenteous and excellent and beers included "Malt the IPA" from Prestwood's finest, the subject of recent activity by the beer research committee (vacancies).
Roger presented T-shirts to siblings Audra (100 runs) and Aaron (50 runs) and Jo got her belated Tosca.