Peter Brass
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Peter Brass - Eskdale, The Lake District, 1960

Peter Brass Eskdale Easter 1960

As a rather naive 15 year old, I, along with two friends from our school, were given the opportunity of attending the Eskdale Outward Bound Mountain School. Little did I know what was to fill our lives over that four week period.
I do remember Tony (as he preferred to be called, when he introduced himself at out table) as a rather tall lanky character. If I remember correctly he said that he was "Head Boy"� at Giggleswick Grammar School. I also remember during the course that his seat became empty , which I think affected me more than I was prepared to let on.
My diary of the "Eskdale"� experience.
When we arrived at the School, we were met by an Instructor who directed us to our dormitories. Mine was in what used to be the stables. There were eleven in our patrol which was called "Watkins"�. There were Police Cadets, people sent by their firms who were training to be ship builders, welders, etc..
Mr Greenbank, who writes on ,mountain climbing for the Yorkshire Evening Post, was our instructor.
At the start of the course we were weighed, measured and examined by a Doctor. This was also done at the end of two weeks and again on the last full day.
Each morning we were awoken by the Duty Captain (who was appointed by Mr Greenbank) at 06.30hrs. Then we were sent around the tarn and under a man made waterfall called "The Whimsy"�, which was very cold and woke us up with a bit of a shock. On returning to the stables we had to various execises including press ups with feet on shelving! Between this time an 08.00hrs, when we had breakfast, we got ready for inspection which included cleaning up the dormitory and other odd jobs. After breakfast we had an inspection, and , while the Patrol Leaders were with the Duty Instructor, we had the latest news read to us. After this, we had morning prayers taken by the Warden and Chief Instructor. When prayers had finished we went to our lessons to learn our skills, which included First Aid, Map Reading, etc.. We spent one day learning how to use canoes and another day doing a rope course. We also had talks on Mountain Rescue. This was carried out for a few days after which we had our hikes.
The first scheme was fell walking. Our first day was quite nice, but on the second day the weather was shocking, but we eventually reached the top of Scafell Pike after being blown back nearly every step we took. The gully which we used to ascend to the top was full of snow as was the top itself. We slept in bivouacs ( not to be experienced in my life again!) and used "emergency"� rations which were cooked on Primus stoves. They were particularly difficult to keep going in view of the wind, rain and sleet. Two of our patrol "flaked out"�, one on top of the mountains and the other in a Pass, and were taken back to the school on Land rovers. When we arrived at the school we had showers, dry clothes and a hot meal. Later we found out that this was when had Tony died.
Our second scheme was a four day expedition where we went climbing in Dow Crags. Walking was much easier than on the first scheme. I think that the agenda for this scheme had changed because of the previous problems.
The third scheme was the hardest, and this was where the Patrol split up into smaller patrols of four people. We were told to go as far as we could in three days, checking in at particular check points. Our patrol covered sixty miles, mainly along ridges.
We had the Friday off to recover from this, and the Instructors served and handed out a very nice tea.
We also took part in mountain rescue training where we took turns at being the "Guide"� (entailing descending backwards holding the stretcher away from the cliff face and being held by a top rope), the patient (tied into the stretcher, suspended by ropes and being guided down the cliff face), and one of the six who payed out the rope at the top under instruction from the person in charge.
On Satruday afternoon we had a cross counrty run which was 5.5 miles long, although I was sure it was much longer!
On the last night, one of the instructors gave a talk on the Antartic with with help of photo slides, which was very interesting. After the talk had finished we went to bed early as we had to be up the following morning at 05.30hrs to enable people to get to Whitehaven railway station for 07.30hrs. As our group were being collected at miday by car we had one last walk around the complex.
At the time, having to put on wet clothes, sleeping in bivouacks, etc., I thought the course would never end. In retrospect, I think my understanding of fellow human beings had changed for the better.