John Walton
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John Walton - Aberdovey, Wales, 1959

I found myself one of 126 boys.aged16-19, who came from all over the British Isle and represented a fair cross section of all social levels. The school consisted of a large country house used mainly for administrative purposes, and in the grounds were additional buildings called Watch Huts.
After the 126 boys had been divided into 9 watches, 14 to each group under the command of an instructor who was also the Watch Officer, and each Watch was named ofter a famous admiral ( I found myself in Drake Watch),we took up residence in our Watch hut.settling in getting to know each other, the routine (up at 6-30a.m. cross country run and cold shower before breakfast) and general outline of the course occupied the first couple of days
Getting down to the business in real earnest began with three days at sea for Drake Watch in a ship with the wonderful sounding name of 'Golden Valley!' In actual fact a 50 foot two masted one time fishing barque, with auxiliary deisel engine. Our first day at sea - calm weather but scrubbing decks and generally keeping the ship spick and span. Evening found us at Aberystwith where we tied up alongside the pier for the night, tired and very glad to roll into our bunks. However, each boy had to do a two hours turn on watch through the night.
During our second day ay sea in the ' Golden Valley' we ran into rough weather and most of us suffered from sea - sickness, and a night anchored at sea didn't help us overcome this. Arriving back at the wharf after sailing across Cardigan Bay, we were, the next day, all very tired, rather pale but none the worst for our experience.
From sailors back to landlubbers!! A four day trip into the mountains was planned and the objective - High Beech log cabin twenty two miles distant. After a 5-45 a.m. start and making our way across the lowlands by main roads and finally mountain tracks, we made High Beech by late evening much too tired to admire the scenery but ready for a good meal and then - to bed.
With the log cabin as our base we did hikes amongst the surrounding mountains and spent a very interesting day in the Dovey Forest, receiving instruction in forestry work and lumberjacking from a member of the Forestry Commission. Felling. sawing and trimming trees up in these mountains of Wales made us feel very fit and certainly gave us good appetites and sound sleep.
Undoubtedly the most strenuos event was the Cader Idris expedition undertaken by Drake watch. this consisted of about 12 - 14 hours of walking and climbing, including the climb of Cader Idris (2,900 feet) but- what a view!! We then had to make our way back to the school at Aberdovey reporting at various check points, approximately 35 miles round trip - everyone tired but with a sense of satisfaction and achievement.
This story would not be complete without the mention of some of the other activities which filled our time - rowing, sailing, and a full day canoeing up the river Dovey, , athletics, putting the shot, running events, walking race, lectures on fire fighting, first aid etc.
In all these activities we had the most expert and efficient instructors. The most difficult thing to convey is the kind of comradeship and real spirit of friendship which developed.
I was18 at the time working in the offices of Joseph Rank Ltd Flour Millers in Hull and was the first person in the Company along with someone from the Cardiff Mill to be sent on the course. I did express my thanks to my superiors when I returned at being given the opportunity of attending this course of The Outward Bound School, for it was an experience I shall never for get (even 50 years later ).