John Ludkiewicz
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John Ludkiewicz - Aberdovey, Wales, 1968

I was a memeber of the Duke of Edinburghs scheme at school and later at the D of E centre in Bradford. The centre has strong links with the Outward Bound Trust and as such facilitated an in introduction to a sponsorship for a four week course at an OB school. Three of my contemporaries and I were interviewed and were given the opportunity to attend courses. Two were offered Aberdovey, one Eskdale and me at Ullswater.(U133) My employer offered to pay my wages for the duration of the course. I was 17 yers old and received 3s9p/hour as an apprentice electrician.
We had to make our own way to the lovely red sandstone city of Carlisle where we would be transported to the school in Ullswater. The journey by train was on the spectacular Settle to Carlisle railway. On arrival at the schoool we were allocated our patrol, Hillary and billeted in the dorm above the old stable block. We were a group of mixed backgounds, Our instructor was Mick Sorrell (one of Joe Browns former climbing partners) and an assistant,Mr Smith a police officer. Mick Sorrell introduced himself and told us he would not stand for any nonesense.
At the end of the course my weight had increased by a couple of pounds, no doubt an increase in muscle and fitness. As the course was after the clocks had gone back we were excused the morning cold plunge in the lake but were cold showered in the main building. The rational being students could be lost in the dark mornings.
The rock climbing aspect of the course was a pleasure for me as I had been intrduced to climbing by my D of E instructors. Later in my 20's and 30's I climbed at a reasonable standard leading at 5C, E2 and seconded the odd 6B. I led several Lake District classics,Astra (without aid), KG, Deer Bield Buttress, Gimmer String Direct to name a few and in 1972 I ascended the Jungfrau in Switzerland. I climbed and bouldered three or four times a week for a long time but now suffer with arthritis in my knees through constant knee strain through jumping on to hard ground without "crash matting". Later in life I have hiked in many parts of the world, the Milford Track, Half Dome in Yosemite, the Grand Canyon to Phantom Ranch and back in one day. I have skied extensively in the USA and Europe.
As a part of our training a rescue from a rock face required a volunteer in the stretcher and a volunteer to be "barrow boy" to guide the stretcher down the cliff face. Three stout fellows lowered the stretcher by ropes and I volunteered to "barrow".
Other physical training was on the sylabus, cross country running, canoeing on the lake.circuit training in the woods with a zip wire. One of our patrol had to be excused from the circuit in the woods, He later went to hospital for an appendectomy. This left an eleven man team, so for any hikes etc we had to share an extra piece of kit each. One memorable hike was up Skiddaw where we "scree ran" down. Not recomended in this day and age of conservation. Our final expedition and hike over three nights was extended by one extra night for those of us doing our D of E Gold Award final expedition. Previously we had been on the slopes of Hellvelyn for ice axe braking practice as it had snowed quite heavily for the earlier part of the forthcoming winter. As the weather was a bit colder we had to carry an extra sleeping bag each and an ice axe for safety. The standard supplied clothing was waterproofs, Belstaff anoraks and the trusty string vest.
The end of cousre concert went well and we were deposited back in Carlisle for the return home.
A few years later I went to Centresport in Leeds to purchase 300 ft of 9mm rope and was seved by the former chief instructor at Ullswater,Jerry Wilson.