Alan Rigby
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Alan Rigby - Eskdale, The Lake District, 1959

In 1959, when I was 19 years of age, I was sponsored by my employer, Barclays Bank, to attend a four week course at the O.B.M.S., Eskdale Green, during the last three weeks of October and the first week of November. That was my first visit to the Lake District but certainly not my last. I have returned on a goodly number of occasions but until late May of this year I had not revisited the Outward Bound School. The holiday in the Lake District this year involved my wife, two daughters, one son, their spouses and one grandchild all of whom have a love of the region to match my feelings, which derive from that first visit in 1959.

In 1959 my course included:

Circuit training, a ropes course, cross country running and fell walking, all of which were challenging in their own right whilst also contributing to achieving a high level of fitness
Acquiring the skills necessary to survive out on the fells and hills.
Climbing on various crags. In my case, Gimmer crag in Great Langdale
Mountain Rescue techniques and abseiling.
Navigation and map reading instruction
Competition amongst the various patrols
Daily Housekeeping duties
I could not say that I enjoyed every moment of the course. It is difficult to be happy when challenged by some testing task despite already being cold, wet and exhausted, but I would not have missed the experience for any reason. It taught me much about myself and the importance of team work to overcome common difficulties.

What are my most vivid memories?

Every morning whilst at the school, having to line up outside the accommodation block as soon as we were woken and being sent off in our patrols for a run around the tarn and a visit to the "whimsy"�- a shute and sluice. We had to stand on the duck boarding under the shute and await the rush of water when the sluice was opened. You were not allowed to leave until you had felt the full force of the deluge. With or without a frost on the ground it amounted to a very cold start to the day!

Being keen on football I had attended pre season training and played the first six games of the season, so I considered myself to be reasonably fit. Wrong!! By the end of the first week there was not a muscle in my body that did not ache. The circuit training, ropes course and initial walks all played their part in improving our fitness.

The wettest memory

On our first three day scheme we spent the second day walking in continuous rain and we camped in Mosedale (above Wasdale Head). We did not have tents: two people shared one 7 foot square piece of canvas and some string in order to construct a bivvy. It continued raining all night, our bivvy's were inadequate as they could not keep out the rain, sleeping bags were very damp and at first light, when morale was very low, we were told we could walk down to Wasdale Head and congregate in a large barn in order to get out of the rain and cook breakfast. We each carried two summer weight sleeping bags when out on schemes, both of which were thoroughly wet that morning. On reaching flat ground just short of the barn the stream had flooded the fields and the bridge over the stream was sitting in the middle of a lake, which we had to wade across. We were so wet already, it hardly mattered. After some food we were hoping that we would set off directly for Eskdale Green and were, initially, happy to learn that we were indeed to return. The only drawback was the route. Together with three others the top of Harter Fell was my designated route for the return trip. Just what we needed!

The coldest memory

During the final three day scheme our group of four spent one night close to the Youth hostel at the top of Ennerdale and just off Black Sail Pass at about 1100 feet above sea level. We went into the forestry where the stream went into it and immediately found a disused and partially collapsed stone sheep pen, a corner of which was ideal for building our bivvy. We had two 7 foot square pieces of canvas and constructed a tidy shelter. It was a clear, cold night and the air was so still our candles did not flicker. After our meal we tried to sleep but the cold was intense and most of the night was spent wearing every bit of clothing whilst in two summer sleeping bags. Staying on one's knees and elbows was the only way to stop the cold ground from penetrating all our defences but is not conducive to sleeping with the result that hardly any sleep was achieved. To this day, I have never been so cold!!

The windiest memory

When out on schemes it was a rule that travel between set points would be by the highest route possible. On one occasion when we signed in at one of the 'control points' a message told us that very high winds were due the following day and we should avoid the very tops and stay just below them on the sheltered side, as far as that was possible. Walking southwards on the Glaramara/Allen Crags ridge we were knocked over by the wind and had to grab handfuls of grass or heather to prevent being rolled over. This lasted for some 5/10 minutes before we could resume walking (bent double to try to avoid being sent back down to earth).

One of the most exhausting memories

When the patrol went to a climbing hut in Little Langdale, four of us walked over Hard Knott and Wrynose passes carrying all our equipment for the three days, including 100ft climbing ropes. That was a tidy walk but at Cockley Beck Bridge we had to pick up a very large rucksack/bergen containing food for the patrol's stay in Little Langdale. Redistributing all we had to carry was essential since the food rucksack could only just be carried by one person for short periods"� That 4 or 5 miles over Wrynose to the hut was a real test of character and the journey seemed never ending. Having driven the route this May I can better appreciate the effort that was involved!

The best memories (the simple things in life)

The creation of a good patrol team spirit over the four weeks and the benefits that resulted from it.
Dry clothes!
Standing under a hot shower at the school having returned wet, tired and exhausted from an expedition.
On a cloudless morning, being close to Blea Tarn between the Great and Little Langdales, as the sun rose above the dead bracken covered hills. The sun turned to the east facing hillside to a burnished gold. A wonderful and never forgotten sight!!

Prior to the course I had never been pushed so hard to achieve goals that I doubted I could attain. It boosted my confidence no end and I have always been extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend. I believe that every youngster would benefit from such an experience.

(Alan Rigby kindly emailed us his memories and we have posted extracts to the Generations site with his permission)