Sloth joins Plum Tart in hound trailing for humans

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13 October 2016 7:28PM

I hashed last weekend. Don’t worry, I didn’t know what it was either. As far as I can make out, you get a group of slightly unhinged people together, tell them they have to follow a trail made of flour and then let them loose on a fellside for a good two hours, until they return, exhausted.

Maybe that was just me. I was invited by the Cockermouth Hash House Harriers to join them on their madcap adventure round Rosthwaite and I have to say, I think I fitted in.

They’re all barking hatstand – in totally a good way.

Indeed, the tortoise contingent of BodyFit would fit in very well.

They all have ‘hash handles’ – nowadays it would be called a hashtag – that range from the sublime to the ridiculous. I think my favourite was Plum Tart (she makes jam).

The hares (this week it was Slasher and Huggy. See?) plot the route by leaving bits of flour around the place.

If you’ve ever been walking and seen them, now you know.

A flour circle means there’s more than one route, so you have to have people running off and checking.

The sneaky hares often lay false trails, so you have to be careful. When you hear the call of “On, on!” it means the pack member has got the scent of the right trail and you’re off again.

Think hound trailing for humans and you’ve got the idea.

Hashing has its roots in 1930s Malaysia and was a way for ex-pats and British colonels to shake off their hangovers.

Obviously hair of the dog never worked for them so they decided this was the way forward. There are about 2,000 hash house harrier clubs across the globe and Cockermouth’s has been going for about 20 years.

I loved it and I have to say I didn’t actually do much running because the conditions did not allow me to – it was too off-road for my liking.

If I can fall over on a bit of asphalt, I’m just asking for trouble on a rocky path.

But it was brilliant. I was cursing them as we climbed up a really steep hillside, although the views were spectacular and Huggy in particular was really helpful in helping me down the boggier bits.

Then it got even more ridiculous. We came to a stream. It was at the river end of the spectrum.

“Where to now?” I asked, attempting to be all keen and eager. They pointed across the expanse of water.

“Where’s the bridge?” I asked.

“There isn’t one.”

I told them they were even more ridiculous and was then frogmarched across by Huggy and Dirty Digger (I really can’t remember their real names).

Now I would have never done that if I’d been by myself. I’d have turned back.

We did more than five miles and had a good old natter all the way round.

I’ll go again but I bet my hashtag will be something like Snail or Sloth...

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