John Chapman
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John Chapman - Ullswater, The Lake District, 1956

A few memories from my Outward Bound course at Ullswater - U9 April/May 1956

Out on the fells one night with a patrol of three, I lay down and went to sleep away from the other two, alongside a Tarn. We had no tents and generally slept in the open. When I awoke on this particular morning I found a sheep tight up against me. Not sure how long he had been there, but he kept me warm.

At the end of a three day walk over the mountains we had to slide down a hillside because the slope was too steep to walk down with our heavy backpacks. When I got down to Patterdale village, the seat of my trousers had virtually disappeared. In order not to embarrass anyone along the road back to the school, my companions walked behind me all the way. Their trousers seem not to have suffered so much!

For me the easiest and most pleasant part of the course was canoeing along the rivers. At the start of one session we were led by an RAF instructor who demonstrated how to enter and handle one of their ex commando canoes which were made of canvas and had a fragile bottom. He warned us not to go near rocks which might tear the bottom. Woe betide anyone who ripped his boat! Upon entering the water to show us "how things were done", he immediately holed his boat which filled with water. We all had a good laugh which did not amuse him. When I entered my own canoe it turned over, sending my provisions, including a tin of Heinz beans, to the bottom. I was ordered to retrieve the lot. Being used to underwater swimming that was not too difficult, but took some while.

We had one lad who fancied the school Nurse. He was arrogant and kept on talking about her until we got fed up with him and decided to silence him for good. One evening he was stripped and then tied to a bed by his arms and legs. We then placed a large leaf over his private parts and called the Nurse up to see the spectacle. As she entered the room there was a rising up and the leaf fell off, causing him great embarrassment. We all had a good laugh and he was completely silent thereafter.

A Captain from the army was showing us how to leap from one horizontal pole to an adjacent one higher up, which you had to land on by wrapping your stomach around it. I think there were four or five, each one higher than the previous. The poor Captain misjudged one leap and broke three ribs. However he was extremely brave and carried on.

One evening we were attending a first aid demonstration outside on the lawn. Our Instructor noticed one or two were shivering, so asked "who is cold?" Two idiots put their hands up, which resulted in all of us being told to run down the lakeside road until told to stop. I am not sure how far we ran but it was a long way and took all evening, by which time we were all very tired and got back just in time for cocoa at 9pm.