Albert Beckett
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Albert Beckett - Eskdale, The Lake District, 1963

Albert George Beckett
(Nansen Patrol)
24th June 1963 - 20th July 1963
Patrol Instructor: Mr McCullam
Assistant Instructor: Mr Perkins

Chief Instructor: Mr Pomfret
Warden: Mr Price
Canoeing: Mr Lawrence
Others: Mr Wilkins
Mr Boyd
Mr Pritchard
Mr Bell (Padre)
Mr Putnam

Patrols: Nansen
Monday 24th June
Arrival and introduction to the various rooms, after which we had supper.
Tuesday 25th June
Up at 6.15 am. Run round the tarn. Cold dip in waterfall. Medical. Collect equipment from drying rooms.
Breakfast, after which we had a lecture from the warden.
Straight out for Circuit Training, which is mainly weight lifting, and jumping.
This brought us up to 10.15 am, when we had our rest period.
Then an interview with the instructor and another medical.
Dinner at 12.30 until 1.10 pm.
Photographs of each patrol by Mr Pritchard.
Fire drill on the North Front.
Trot round the rope course, obstacle course and the steeplechase track, which is round the tarn.
Intelligence test for 40 minutes.
Tea and leisure until 7.45 pm when there was a lecture on the general course of activities.
Later we signed the pledge in the warden's office, saying we would neither smoke nor drink. Then there was tea and biscuits.
At 10 pm we retired.

Wednesday 26th June

Up at 6.40 am. Daily duties - cleaning dustbin area - cleaning stores entrance. Prior to which we had our run around the tarn.
Breakfast at 8 am, then the service.
After that came two periods of map reading. The first period showed us the symbols, the second how to actually read the map.
At 11 am we had what was called a 'quiet walk'. We went up Miterdale, took the left fork of the river Mite at Miterdale Head. Up to Illgill Head and along the screes to Whin Rigg, returning to the school at 5.30 pm.
Tea was at 6 pm, and after, at 7.45 pm was a lecture on Rescue Patrol.
Bed at 10 pm.

Thursday 27th June

Up at 6.40 am.
Ran round the tarn, and under the 'whimsy'.
General duties until 8 am.
Breakfast at 8 am.
Turning turtle at the Boathouse.
Lecture on First Aid from Matron.
Lecture on Mountain Rescue off Mr Lawrence.
Circuit Training.
Dinner at 12.45 pm.
Knots with Mr Bell at the Winter Gardens entrance.
Two periods Rescue 'A'. Stretcher carrying and absailing down a rock face.
Tea at 6.00 pm, before which there was a film on artificial respiration. Kiss of life method.
Tea and biscuits 9 pm.
Bed 10 pm.
Friday 28th June

Up and whimsy at 6.40 am.
Morning duties.
8.00 am breakfast.
News and morning prayers.
Climbing on Ranks Bank.
Circuit Training.
Dinner at 12.45 pm.
Canoeing on the tarn for two periods.
Rescue three and four.
Lecture from the warden on elections of Patrol Captains.
Tea at 6 pm.
Free evening, at 8.15 pm we went on the Wall.
Bed at 10 pm.

Saturday 29th June

6.40 am, up, whimsy, and duties.
Breakfast at 8 am, news and prayers.
Then came Map Reading three and four.
Our first time over the Ropes Course, which consists of a Rope Climb, leading to a Tightrope with Hand Traverse. On to a Rope Slide over a large net, where there is a log suspended by rope, and a ladder at one end. There is a climb up to the 'Burma Bridge', which is a tightrope with two handrails, connected crossways at yard intervals. Down a rope, onto a ladder at 45 degrees, which was fastened by one rope at the top end, thus making it very precarious. Then there is a Hand Traverse to a Balancing Log, and a Rope Swing, to a Tightrope. On this one must regain one's balance on top of the rope, haul oneself along, and drop on to a stump. For the last leg there is a tightrope with another rope to help the balancing.
Circuit Training.
Dinner 12.45 pm.
Rescue five, covering bandaging.
Bivouac One - Erecting a bivouac at the back of the tarn with Mr Putnam.
Map Reading five.
Wall and Beam. Object - to get an 11 man patrol over a high wall or beam in as little time as possible.
Tea at 6.00 pm.
A very interesting lecture by the warden on South Georgia, concluded the programme for the day.
Bed at 10 pm as usual.

Sunday 30th June

Lie in until 7.30 am
Morning Duties.
Breakfast at 8.30 am
Inspection at 9.30 am
Volley Ball - a game where two teams consisting of 6 persons, face one another on a court, rather like a tennis court. The object being to touch the floor with the ball on the opposing teams side.
Wall and Beam.
Dinner at 12.30 pm
In the afternoon we went up to Dalegarth for a walk. As usual it rained, and our walk was confined to Dalegarth cafe. We returned via the 'ratty'.
Tea at 6.00 pm, leaving the evening free.
Monday 1st July

Whimsy - Duties - Breakfast
Preparation for first scheme.
Left on first scheme. Set off at 10 am.
Travelled up to Miterdale Head, where we took the right fork to Burnmoor Tarn. We kept a steady pace until Wastwater, where we rested. After resting we continued up to Black Sail Pass and bivouacked there. Mr McCallum came up later, and after a good meal we set off up to the Pillar. A particularly long and harduous climb for me. On returning the rain came down and we all retired thoroughly soaked.

Tuesday 2nd July

Next morning, still soaked, we had breakfast and continued on up to Kirk Fell, then to Great Gable. After reaching the summit and descending by the screes, we went into Wasdale, where one of the party left us. After renewing our sleeping bags, we continued up Lingmell Gill to Hollowstones, where we spent the night. A better night than the first. Dave, Jock, Pete and myself joined two bivouacs together and had a rather comfortable night.

Wednesday 3rd July

After cooking breakfast we went up to Scafell mountain via Mickledore and did a little climb. We returned to Mickledore after having a rescue practice on the mountainside. Mr McCallum and Mr Perkins left us and we returned between Silverybield and High Scarth Crags. From then on we were lost and could not find Stony Tarn. As the patrol were footsore and weary the patrol captain decided we should descend to the main road. On arriving back at school thoroughly tired we had tea at 6.00 pm, and rested during the evening.

Thursday 4th July

Usual menial duties plus extra duties as duty patrol. A hell of a rush.
First period on the ropes course.
Later came an informal discussion on the first scheme with Mr McCallum.
Dinner at 6.00 pm, after which, was Initiative tests for the patrols. These consisted of:-
a) Erecting a tent while blindfold.
b) Erecting two crossed logs, one on either side of a supposed crevasse, and connecting them while securing them at each side.
c) Carrying a whole patrol plus 3 buckets of water from a log to a tightrope without any man falling or any water being spilled.
d) Fastening 2 canoes together with 2 logs and 3 ropes, and floating the whole lot with the patrol around a buoy anchored in the tarn
The tea was served at 6.00 pm.
That night the patrols split into informal discussion groups, and the subject was Youth Services. Some very interesting points were reached.

Friday 5th July

Duties etc;
All morning was taken up by Canoeing 'B', on the River Esk. A very interesting and enjoyable morning which was probably spoilt by the fact that we had to run back to school.
Dinner at 12.45 pm
Preparation and departure on solo.
This is where all the boys travel to a certain spot by different routes, and camp close to one another, but cook their own meals, and generally look after themselves. Perhaps this was spoiled by a thunderstorm, for some of the boys got wet.

Saturday 6th July

Arose about ½ hour before dawn - lit fire - cooked breakfast - packed - tidied site.
After awaiting instructions returned to Lower Birker Pool. Investigated -709 and found an old stone, one room building. On to Low Ground Farm, and down by Stanley Gill to Dalegarth them home. Arrived at 10.00 am, tired but not physically tired.
Dinner at 12.45 pm
Knots 5 with Mr Perkins.
Mid-course interview with Mr McCallum, and Estate Work - carrying logs 6 abreast - primitive, but effective.
During the evening was a film on Rock Climbing, showing numerous climbs in the Lake District. This was followed by entertainment from two old boys of the school on guitars. Very good way of rounding off the evening.

Sunday 7th July

Rise 7.30 am - Duties - Breakfast at 8.30 am.
Volley Ball practice.
In the afternoon we went into Seascale, for a day out. It ended in a hike down there and a taxi ride back.
Returned at 5.00 pm for tea at 6.00 pm.
When we returned we discovered that the half mile uphill run had taken place, but we volunteered to run again - it was too late. Perhaps it is just as well.

Monday 8th July

Rise, Whimsy, Duties.
Knots test with Mr Putnam on the lawn. Not bad. There was a tendency to get flustered.
Ropes course test - 3rd patrol - we did very well.
Steeplechase 1 mile course - two times around the tarn - time taken 7 minutes 12 sec.
Circuit Training - altogether an extremely difficult morning - strenuously.
Rescue 6 & 7 with Mr Pomfret. Two boys were supposed to have been injured. The rest of the party had to find them and treat them for their injuries. A good exercise, but the right effect could not be achieved. There did not seem to be a great sense of urgency.
Written rescue exam in the Dining Hall with Mr Wilkins.
After tea preparation for climbing scheme tomorrow.

Tuesday 9th July

Climbing Scheme.
Whimsy - Duties - Breakfast.
We stared at 8.45 am with a ride to Brotherikeld Farm, at the bottom of Hardknott Pass, and followed the River Esk to Birker Fell. I was in charge of a party of four. Dave Edwards, Pete Henly, and Alex Kidd. Upon arriving at the Farm, our instructions from Mr McCallum were confused by further instructions from Mr Bell. The result being that we took more equipment than we should have, and all four of us were completely worn out when we reached Three Tarns. Upon looking behind us we saw the rest of our party about a mile back, although we had a five mile start on them. We waited for them and continued with them down the band, and finally to the dam at Mickleden. Our group was supposed to have climbed on that afternoon, and Mr McCallum was rather annoyed. We erected our tents and settled down to bed after a good meal.

Wednesday 10th July

Up at 4.45 am on the Wednesday morning for a 25 mile hike to Helvellyn and back. Set off at 7.00 am. Travelled down the valley to the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. Followed the path by the waterfalls up to Stickle Tarn, where it was easy to stick to the path over Blea Rigg to Easedale Tarn, and down Easedale to Grasmere. After coming down Easedale, one of the boys injured his ankle, so we rested in Grasmere, while he went to the doctor's with the patrol leader Alex Kidd. The doctors, being closed, it was decided after much argument that we continue along the Keswick road. After reaching Dunmail Raise it became obvious that we, or should I say, the injured boy, couldn't carry on after battling this argument out, the patrol leader decided that we return to Grasmere. When we returned to Grasmere the two of them went to the doctors, while the others wasted time in Grasmere. It became obvious, after hearing the doctors report that we couldn't possibly carry on and would have to return. Unsuccessful scheme again.

Thursday 11th July

Set off at 7.00 am to walk over Scafell and Great Gable. Mission accomplished successfully. We took the path up Rossett Ghyll from Mickleden to Angle Tarn. On to Allen Crags turning left to Esk Hause, along Broad Crag to Scafell Pikes, where we were enveloped in thick mist. As we descended we left the mist behind and went on to Piers Gill, Round How, and so to Styhead Pass at dinner, where we had a cup of tea with Slingsby patrol. Practically on the homeward journey, up the Great Gable, and back to Angle Tarn via Styhead and Sprinkling Tarn, and so to Mickleden. A nice easy walk. Made good time without hurrying, and could have made better time.

Friday 12th July

Up early. Set off climbing at 8.30 am. Climbed Middle Fell at the rear of the Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. By far the most interesting time of the scheme. Not a very hard climb, but a thrill all the same.
Set off back to school at 11.30 am. Became hopelessly and inexplicably behind time. Had to hitch a lift and was finally picked up by the Land Rover. Red Tarn route.
A lovely feeling to snuggle up in a warm bed for a change.

Sat 13th July

Found it very hard to leave my bed but finally managed it.
First period came the Rescue practical exam. Fairly easy. First Aid exam really.
Map Reading exam, and again fairly easy, perhaps a little more difficult than First Aid.
Finally came an exam on Public Speaking, where each member of the patrol has to give 5 minute lecturette on an interesting subject of their own choice. Very testing on the nerves, even in front of people you know.
The afternoon produced the Cross Country, a gruelling 5 mile race in which I surprised myself by finishing, even though it was 86th.
The concert in the evening went down very well. Many of the acts were shoddy, but with a limited supply of equipment, they achieved the right effect, and raised a laugh.

Sunday 14th July

Not feeling too good, got up for breakfast, but had only cereal, had nothing at dinner and stayed in bed during the afternoon. The weather was miserable, and didn't help - a lot better by tea time - had tea - helped clear tables and wash up, as we were duty patrol.

Monday 15th July

The finals of the Agility Course, Wall and Beam events were held today.
In the Agility Course the patrol came first with 54 points, the previous record being 55 points. The idea being that the patrol move over as many obstacles as possible in 5 minutes. The obstacles were a variety of balancing logs over the stream. Good fun, as it was inevitable that someone was to fall in on each round.
In the Wall event the idea was to get an 11 man team over a 12 - 14 foot wall in as little time as possible. Another event to our credit. It took the patrol 1 min 40 sec, the record was 1 min 18 sec.
The Beam, later on in the day was yet another success. It took us 26 sec to get 11 men over a 6 foot high beam, previous record being 18 sec.
Early night for final scheme commencing tomorrow - 9.30 pm.

Tuesday 16th July

After morning duties came the start of the scheme. By 9.00 am all patrols had departed.
We set off along the road to Boot, and climbed Great Barrow, followed the path to Burnmoor, and from there cut across to Hollowstones. Taking the left path the patrol then proceeded up to Great Gable. From Great Gable to Beckhead Farm, Blacksail Hut, and Scarth Gap Pass, arriving at Buttermere at 8.00 pm, where we spent the night.

Wednesday 17th July

Off at 8.00 am. The patrol proceeded along the road to High Snockrigg, Robinson and Dalehead. The weather became so bad at this point that we (were) driven down to the Honister Pass, and descended into Borrowdale. After a short rest we plodded on, absolutely saturated and miserable, finally camping at Stokes Pass, altogether a disappointing day. We bivouacked at 8.30 pm, and enjoyed a big, hearty meal.

Thursday 18th July

Thursday saw us off to a good start up Stokes Pass, along to Angle Tarn, over Bow Fell, and down to Three Tarns. Once again we were not only behind schedule, but many of the lads were footsore. It being late the leader decided that we hit the road and trek back to school the quickest way. This we did and returned to (a) nice hot shower, a lovely tea, and of course, an evening cleaning all (our) equipment.

Friday 19th July

Billed on the agenda as Administration. By far one of the most strenuous days so far, with not a minute to spare. There was packing, report writing, the doctors to see and on top of all the instructors had lost the results of both First Aid and Practical, and Knots tests. These had to be taken again.

Saturday 20th July

Arise 4.30 am. All morning duties, breakfast etc., done by departure at 7.00 am.
On the whole an easy course, when looking back. Individually each obstacle was a bigger test of one's confidence, nerve and initiative.

There were times when I felt like giving up, but there was always something driving me on. Probably my conscience which wouldn't let me be a failure.

The most enjoyable moments were perhaps the sense of achievement having climbed the heights of Scafell, and the beautiful panorama set out before one. Also the long stands on the showers after hours of endless walking.

The easiest part of the course. This must surely have been sinking into a nice cosy bed after (a) strenuous day.

The hardest part of the course. Getting into the routine of things during the first week, and forming a timetable whereby one could squeeze in a few minutes for a shave.

Food: Ample. Not much variety in the first few weeks. During the latter half of the course there seemed to be a marked change, and the food was really enjoyable. On each scheme there were a lot of dehydrated foods, and although they were light to carry, took more attention to get them into a digestible state.

Really a most enjoyable course. Tough, but a good test of character and initiative.
It was a disappointment to myself that only enough rock climbing and canoeing were taught to give the pupil self confidence in these sports.