Robert Denison
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Robert Denison - Eskdale, The Lake District, 1967

I think it was about Easter of 1967 when I attended the Outward Bound school, Eskdale Green. At the time I was a Fire Brigade cadet (Junior Fireman) in Bradford and it was they who sent my four colleaguss and I to the two Lake District centres at Eskdale and Ullswater.

I have looked at the photos on the site but although I recognise the main building, I seem to recall being lodged in another two story building off to the side somewhere. I am pretty sure I was in Shackleton troop/house/group. I do remember it was quite cold at the time and one of the best spots was the huge drying room downstairs, toasty! I know it was certainly a bit nippy each morning doing a run around the lake, finished off by a plunge into what seemed like arctic waters before dashing back to the block for a hot shower.

One of my most vivid memories is from the 24 hr solo expedition, which if truth be known was not actually all that solo. I was given a route and at a particular point in my perambulations I was met by the group instructor who indicated an area to make my bivouac. As per instructions I gathered together a bunch of twigs and sticks and having made a circle of stones built myself a small and well controlled fire to heat my rations.

As I relaxed and took in my surroundings I quickly realised that all the other members of my troop were similarly ensconced nearby in their bivvies. I was in a small valley with a stream in the bottom and on the other side I saw a young man, a cadet as I recall from the Irish Rangers. He had taken the 'build a fire' instruction to heart and had by a stroke of ill fortune set fire to a large fallen tree. The fire soon caught the masses of dead leaves and in the gathering dusk, as I laid snug in my sleeping bag I was treated to the sight of the poor student and latterley the instructor, silhouetted against the leaping flames as they beat ineffectually against the conflagration. Yes I realise that particularly as a fireman I should have offered a hand but in reality the tree was hard against the stream and there was no danger of the fire spreading, so I rather selfishly laid back and enjoyed the unexpected entertainment as I drank my billy of tea.

My apologies if this little anecdote doesn't fit with the 'all for one and one for all' mentality, but the site requested stand out memories.

I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Bob Denison