Peter Shergold
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Peter Shergold - Eskdale, The Lake District, 1959

Outward Bound - Such a fantastic experience.

On a winters day in 1959 I was one of a number of teenagers picked up in the minibus at Ravenglass following my first glimpse of a mountain during the long train journey from the south coast. I was then a police cadet sent on a month's course to OBMS Eskdale. Used to scouting I was looking forward to a few weeks of the outdoors. Little did I realise how the next 4 weeks would change my outlook on life. The initial organisation of my new group of friends into smaller groups put me in a small unit - "Watkin"� - and assigned our accommodation for the course on the first floor to the right hand side of the old house as I remember it.

Our arrival at Eskdale in the dark meant little but the rude awakening came next morning with what was to become the customary morning run around the tarn in front of the house before daybreak with the initial surprise of a shower under the beck on the way back to a warm shower before breakfast. Were we supposed to have the warm shower - I am not sure? At least that was the drill for the duration of the course when we were not on the fells.

At the end of the first week we had qualified as a mountain rescue team. What would Health and Safety say about that today?

The wonderful experiences over the following weeks involving first aid training, map reading, climbing on Shepherd's Crag in Borrowdale, abseiling, canoeing on Wast Water, fell walking and all other manor of outdoor activities reinforced my interest in the outdoors.

Expeditions throughout the Lakes, in groups large and small and on my own opened up a world of even greater interest in the outdoors and service to others. Scafell followed by Scafell Pike when we thought we had already completed the day's target and the night spent at Black Sail Youth Hostel were among the highlights of the time spent in the mountains as a teenager. The return from Black Sail and the negotiation of a col in mist with nil visibility reliant only on map and compass (no GPS in those days) singing Onward Christian Soldiers whilst wondering if we would make the valley floor remain vividly in my memory as the highlight of the OBMS experience with blisters , ill-fitting boots with studs and the return to "ordinary"� food just before Christmas falling into insignificance.

The solo expedition with a night on the fells also ranks highly in my memories.

Some years ago on one of my many return visits to the Lakes with my wife I knocked on the door at OBMS Eskdale where I received a very warm welcome, invited into the library I checked out my handwriting in my course records and left my visiting card. I hope to pay another visit there one day and would love to walk more sedately around the tarn to see if I can locate that beck again where we were forced to have the early morning shower.

Following an introduction of my wife to The Langdales many years ago we have spent many happy times exploring Cumbria and have a particular affection for the Langdales, Wasdale and Borrowdale. Great End, Sty Head Tarn (with its stretcher box remembered from 1959) and nearby Sprinkling Tarn are among my favourite places.

Outward Bound may have changed its format since 1959 but my love of the Cumbrian Mountains hasn't. I still have my little round badge, albeit it was only a blue one and still endeavour "to strive to serve but not to yield"�.

What an experience - thanks Outward Bound Mountain School, Eskdale and the team of 1959!