Derek Hughes
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Derek Hughes - Eskdale, The Lake District, 1958

I was an overweight young 18,when the manager of my dept in the company British Nylon Spinners in Pontypool, called me in and asked if I fancied an, allpaid months holiday in Cumbria, at eighteen how could I refuse?
Along with a friend
from another dept,I recall arriving at Ravensglas station, and being ferried to the school by land rover,quite a trip for two lads from the west mining valleys of south wales.
First impressions were not particularly good. The dormitory looked like a converted stables, with what looked like ex army cots, which we did come to love over time, possibly due the activities of the day!
Following day was general checkup with the school nurse, which I remember involved sprinting up a circular staircase to check your heart rate etc. Then a general tour of the school,along with a talk on rules and regulations an general history of the Outward Bound and its aims.
The first item "proper"was the so called "gentle Walk"which involved more gentle walking than most of us had ever seen!. Having come from the western valleys of wales, I was no stranger to the odd mountain or two, but there were some lads in whymper patrol who had not even seen a mountain never mind climbing one...I remember being called back twice for striding ahead of the group,forcibly reminded the third time,by being made to carry the slowests lads pack,a lesson early on of being part of a team.
The following weeks consisted of ,walking running,swimming and climbing..the final three day task,being blindfolded put in the back of a landrover and dumped in some remote spot, with instructions to make our way back,and just to make it interesting climbing so many peaks over x number of feet!,that bunk never looked so good, and the subsequent de-briefing the following day was interesting to say the least.
Other memories, early rises,run around the tarn.then in for a swim,Ibelieve a labradour helped you of the end of the stage if you were slow!. The rock climbing,being the volunteer!! for being lowered down the face of a climb in a stretcher. The thrill of my first abseil, and getting to do it allover again down the school towers during fire drill.. No tent,but a bivoac in a thunderstorm somewhere on Sca fell, drenched through, but still getting onwith it the the following day.
The cross country run of 5mile? coming to a river and being shouted through by a large scotsman who had been around , but unlike now had always been seen in full highland dress!
The ex RAF seargent who was firm,and wonders moving the slower lads!
To many other things to list, but the final overall item, was going up among your peers and friends and being presented with THAT badge, the motto which summed up all the trials a tribulations, no matter how small they were in relation to the worlds problems, but was a symbol of how much you had tried and overcome.......the badge was blue...I still have it at 72yrs old.!
ps.. My mother hardly recognised me ,I had lost nearly two stone in 4 weeks, was fitter than I have ever been, and ready to tackle anything...was due for call up...I missed the final draft by 6weeks!!