Having missed out in the Lent term due to Covid, we were extremely keen to organise another Hash run for the Hunt, the last one having take place near Pulverbatch back in October when we were so generously hosted by the Owen family. This time around we were returning to an old favourite of ours, Whitton Hall near Westbury, hosted by the Halliday family. I think this is our fourth visit in the last 11 years, and it has never failed to disappoint!
After very wet weather on both the day before and on the morning of the run, we were prepared for a rather grizzly time as we boarded the coach at the back of KH, but by the time we arrived, we were very lucky that things seemed to have dried up and indeed they managed to stay so for the rest of the afternoon.
Colonel David took two trusty UVI runners, Oscar H-R (R) and Cosmo W (Ch), to help him lay the course – a long-standing tradition at the club in which a ‘scent’ is laid in flour and the ‘hounds’ follow it through some of Shropshire’s prettiest countryside.
After about fifteen minutes or so the rest of the pack set off in pursuit, guided only by small markings of flour in the grass, with no clue where they would lead us. After some careful navigation through streams, past some extremely friendly young cows and across a bit of impromptu barbed wire, we found ourselves up on a ridge with stunning views across the valley towards Stiperstones, Bromlow Callow, Corndon Hill and, way off in the distance, the Wrekin. I’m afraid my phone camera doesn’t quite do justice to the majesty of the scene! A poor workman blaming his tools perhaps…
With a group of about 25 pupils, it was remarkable how well they kept together and looked after each other, especially across difficult obstacles and awkward terrain, with enthusiastic cries of ‘On! On!’ to show the way. The non-competitive nature of the event really allows the pupils to just enjoy the day and each other’s company, and while it was certainly a challenging route, there was such a sense of collective spirit and relaxed cheeriness at the opportunity to be off site, amongst nature and with good friends.
After about 12km or so, we eventually made our mud-spattered way back to Whitton Hall, where we were treated to an incredibly generous spread of sausage rolls, cake, biscuits and tea among the outbuildings of this beautiful farm.
We had a number of Hashing first-timers, who needed to be ‘blooded’, a tradition which sees the senior Hunt members dish out a bit of the remaining flour into the rueful faces of the rookies of the group. This run included Mr Cooley who took his punishment – gleefully meted out by our Huntsman and Huntswoman – in typically stoic fashion!
It really was a wonderful afternoon out and reminded me and my team of how lucky we are to work with such great kids. My huge thanks to the Halliday family for hosting us so warmly, and to everyone who came along and made it such an enjoyable day.
Master in Charge of The Hunt