Brian Avery
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Brian Avery - Eskdale, The Lake District, 1963

I attended course E. 132 at Eskdale in May 1963. At that time I was a police cadet with the Wiltshire Constabulary and the Outward Bound Course was considered to be the climax of our training to become police officers. As we travelled across the southern end of the Lake District by train to Ravenglass, many of us had never seen mountains before. We were met at Ravenglass Station by a muscular suntanned young man, one of the instructors. We travelled by coach to Eskdale through beautiful countryside. My first impression of the school was that its setting was perfect, a lake with a mountainous backdrop. This beauty was really emphasised when sitting in the school chapel.

I was placed in Mallory Patrol and my instructor was Mr Lawrence, addressed as "Sir."� I had an interview with Mr Lawrence and told him my biggest problem was a lack of fitness and being overweight. I was 16 stones 4 pounds at the time. I think Mr Lawrence detected a nervousness in me and this was confirmed by him at the end of the course.

In the first week we were taken on a "Quiet walk"� with map reading exercises and an initiative test, crossing a river. Towards the end of the walk Mr Lawrence took off his rucksack and dived off the parapet of a bridge into a rocky mountain stream. This was somewhere near Dalegarth as I recall - I have been back and shown it to my wife. Each member of the patrol was then required to make the leap - non-swimmers were roped on so they did not get into difficulties. After some hesitation I made the leap. Mr Lawrence later told me that until that point he had doubted I would last the course, but then became confident I would come through it.

The introduction to rock climbing on Rank's Bank made me feel very nervous but I soon became amazed that I could stand on the smallest of rock protrusions as I made my way up. We also had to "fall off"� after negotiating the most difficult part, so that we had confidence in the safety rope. Abseiling in the school grounds was another exhilarating experience. There was such a variety of activities that life was always interesting. Discipline was strict which some students found rather irksome. I recall one young man who worked for a brewery in London thought he was going on a mountain holiday where he could make his own decisions as to how he would fill his time. One night there was talking in the dormitory after lights out and the whole patrol was taken out on to the patio to do some press-ups.

The 24 hours solo expedition was enjoyable, building a bivouac and preparing a meal. The four-day rock-climbing scheme was challenging. I well remember climbing the Central Gully on Great End. We were camped out for this scheme and one evening we had the most beautiful sunset that made the mountainside look purple in colour. Mr Lawrence thanked God for such beauty and that we were privileged to be able to see it. We had one scare during this scheme when one of our patrol lost his footing on a scree run. Luckily I and another student were able to link arms and catch him as he hurtled backwards down the slope towards us.

For the first three weeks of my course we had wall to wall sunshine. Came the first day of the final scheme the heavens opened. I was part of a group of four and we trudged off in the rain to Burnmoor Tarn. It was also misty and we were circumnavigating a boggy area when the student in front of me suddenly went shoulder deep into a bog. I managed to grab his hand and the chain that formed behind me enabled us to pull him out before he completely disappeared. The rain persisted for the three days of the final scheme but we did manage a few peaks, including Scafell Pike. The mist came down on us while we were up there and we came down on an unintended route.

For the last evening meal the instructors became the waiters for the students. Unfortunately one patrol got called out for a mountain rescue. I got one of the biggest thrills in my life when I was presented by Mr Price with the Warden's Badge. I still wear it with pride. I had brought the first Warden's Badge to the Wiltshire Constabulary and later that year was promoted to Cadet Leader. Sadly Mr Lawrence was unable to be at the presentation. The course had given me self confidence, trust in other members of the patrol and physical fitness. I had lost 19 pounds in weight. I developed a love for the Lake District and have spent numerous holidays there since my course. I usually visit the school when I come. My wife and I spent our honeymoon at the Wastwater Hotel, as it was then known. We developed a love for walking and mountains and we have travelled the length and breadth of the Lake District and Scotland with our caravan in pursuit of beautiful scenery. We struck up some lasting friendships as a result. I served 32 years with the Wiltshire Constabulary as a police officer and 10 years in a civilian capacity.

Brian R. Avery

(Note: Brian kindly posted us his story and we have published it on the website with his permission.)