Richard Clarke
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Richard Clarke - Ullswater, The Lake District, 1978

Ullswater Outward Bound School February 1978 Course Number U227

My story starts a little before the actual course date. I was in the final year of my mechanical engineering apprenticeship with the British Sugar Corporation as it was then known. I was the only mechanical apprentice at our site at the time, two other lads the same age as I were electrical engineering apprentices, and when the company asked all three of us whether we like to go on a three week course up in the Lake District, I was the only one to say yes. I gathered together the equipment and clothing required ( as per the joining instructions ) and made my way via train to Penrith station from Suffolk.
On arrival I was met by a young man in his 20's in a Transit type mini bus and whose name I cannot remember but he introduced himself as one of the course leaders. On arrival at the school which is situated right on the shoreline of Ullswater , we were introduced to the other candidates and were shown to our sleeping quarters. One of the first things I noticed was how sparse the blankets were on the bunks!
The course members were made up of young men, from all walks of life, including police cadets, a member of ( if my memory serves me correctly ) the Norwegian royal household ( a young prince) and one lad I remember called Eric, who hailed from Newcastle, was unemployed, and who had been sent on the course by his local social services department, about 30 of us in all.
Over the three weeks of the course I carried out activities that I had never done before including, kayaking down river to Penrith, skiing on snow, rock climbing and abseiling, fell running and of course the infamous pre breakfast jog and swim in Ullswater ( we were in fact spared the swim because we would have had to break the ice first ). I also led my group of six on the final three day fell top expedition, which coincided with some of the worst winter weather that the lakes can provide. On the last afternoon of the three day expedition we returned to base through heavy snow, and the hot shower after we debriefed was heaven sent. For me personally it was not a life changing event, but I really enjoyed my time as an Outward Bounder and I wonder what happened to the others in my class of '78.