A Moist Herberts Hole

By John Manning

Club Run Report, Eight Minute Mile Group, Wednesday 30 September 2020

In this period of change for Tring Running Club Wednesday nights, the 8s pace group has been venturing a little further afield. This week, we met at the common at Cholesbury for an adventure across the ridges.

In the last month, we have been joined by five new Tring Running Club members so welcome to Rebecca, Ricky, Tim, Mark and Taylor. I think that this week we introduced them to the genuine TRC experience – running the trails, in the dark, in the rain, in the mud! As Paul Bayley said, it was “wetter than an otter’s pocket”.

Heading south from the common, we were soon at Asheridge Farm, the former home of politicians Aneurin Bevan, the founder of the NHS, and Jennie Lee, who was the leading light in the foundation of the Open University.

Through Braid Wood, an owl silently swept out in front of us. We dropped down a chalk gully to bring us to the first climb up to Chartridge. It was a bit like the slow, clanking crawl at the start of a rollercoaster ride, for what followed were four more descents and climbs across the ridges. Down to Pednor Bottom to cross the route of the Pednor Five. Up to Pednor House with its elaborate brick dovecote. A swoop down through a field of clover and a pivoted rambler gate to another iconic race route in Herberts Hole, and then up again for a brief respite before the long swing down a field edge and the juddering ascent back to Chartridge.

In the village, we turned next to the Mission Church to enter a hedge tunnel which became narrower and nettlier before bursting into an open field, sweeping down and up to Asheridge. Looking back, I could see a long line of headtorch lights strung out like pearls on a necklace. Along the road we passed the Blue Ball Inn (Bevan’s local) adorned with its symbolic sign of horseshoe and…..blue ball.

The valley slopes across to Bellingdon were thankfully shorter and we were rewarded with a run along the ridge top to HG Matthews Brickworks (an eco friendly maker of bricks using local clay and wood fired ovens), where the footpath threads a way round the perimeter. One last plunge down through the woods and then a final climb up a slippery Rays Hill path, to emerge beneath the sails of the windmill beside Cholesbury Common.

The bright lights of the Full Moon Pub beckoned but we were, sadly, too wet to adjourn there. Next time.

Photos were taken during the reccie of this route, apart from the one showing headlights in the dark.