Julian Baldock
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Julian Baldock - Devon on Ashburton, 1969

I was a Police Cadet with Warwickshire Constabulary when I attended the course at Holne. We started in November and finished in December. I think it's fair to say that none of us wanted to go on Outward Bound and we had no choice about which centre we were sent to. I remember that Holne was considered one of the 'easier' centres but also the one with the most variety (one of the few to offer caving as I recall).
Conditions at the centre were pretty basic and the food was dire. Fortunately there was a tuck shop which did a roaring trade in Mars bars. Leaving the centre was not allowed and smoking and drinking alcohol were forbidden. We were kept on the go the whole time but, curiously, I distinctly remember us getting up at 7.30, not 6.30 (something to do with the mornings being too dark). Every morning started with a half mile run followed by - yes, you guessed it - the character building cold shower (always the full ten seconds, counted painfully slowly by one of the instructors).
There was a lot of walking on Dartmoor of course and canoeing in and on the nearby Dart River. As this was basically in flood at the time our last session proved to be something akin to the retreat from Moscow, only in canoes! Caving was universally dreaded and proved to be fairly awful for one of two of the group, one of whom got stuck in the infamous Maggot's Crawl. Whilst I've since done many of the activities I first undertook at Holne, oddly enough caving hasn't been one of them.
There were a number of expeditions, including an overnight solo in a bivouac; a kind of tent without a front or back door. The final three day expedition, which for us started at Trebarwith Strand on the north Cornish coast, was truly memorable but our group felt slightly guilty because we spent two of the three nights sleeping in barns. We naturally never confessed this to the powers that be.
I came away from Outward Bound as fit (and as light) as I'd ever been - or ever would be again. The experience has stayed with me all my life, despite not appearing to enjoy its privations at the time. My wife always says that when I talk about it now, forty odd years after the event, it is with great affection. One thing it did engender was a lifelong love of Dartmoor and for that alone I will always be grateful. I can remember many of my fellow squad members - Police Cadets, Firemen, even a trainee accountant I believe - and often wonder what they have done with their lives?