Ron Blundell
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Ron Blundell - Ullswater, The Lake District, 1960

2/4/60 – 30/4/60
I first applied for a bursary for a course with Outward Bound with Somerset County Council but after the interview was told to reapply the next year as I was relatively young only having just turned 17. I was disappointed because in a year’s time I would hopefully have started employment after completing my two year Engineering course at Somerset Technical Training College.
I was told through scouting contacts that Wills Tobacco in Bristol did offer bursaries. I applied and after an interview and a one to one dinner with the Chairman at their HQs in Bristol I was awarded a full bursary. There were no conditions attached and I look back on those years of generous support by large companies as a golden time.
At the time of attending course U48 I was then a Youth-in-Training (apprentice) with Post Office Telephones. In order to attend the course I used my two weeks annual leave and two weeks special (unpaid) leave.
These notes were written looking back over more than 52 years at a time in my life that was lived in a world very different to that of today. The text in italics are the unedited notes taken from my log book written at the time by me aged 17years 11 months.
After a two week holiday near Ullswater Outward Bound in September 2012 I decided to reinterpret my notes primarily as a retrospective exercise and to share with other OB alumni...:

Week 1
Monday April 4th 1960
I arrived at Penrith Station at 7.30 pm on the diesel train from Crewe. (I travelled by train from Taunton and changed at Crewe) I disembarked from the train and was surprised at the number of other chaps that had also travelled up on the same train.
Once out of the station we, that is those going to the Outward Bound School at Ullswater, gathered in a group awaiting the arrival of the buses. A lorry arrived and the kit was packed aboard. At last the first bus arrived and there was an immediate rush for the door. I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t get stuck in the door. After we had sorted ourselves out and got organised we were counted then we were off. We travelled for about half an hour which was quite boring as all we could see were the objects picked out by the buses headlights. At last, we had arrived. We crowded out and assembled in the main common room where we were divided into patrols of 12. My patrol was “Scott”. Members as follows:
Scott patrol: John J Slater (Captain), N. Hamilton (Vice Captain) Micheal F Pearman, Colin Levesley, James Hodgson, Patt Ryan, Frederick Loveys, Ron Gell, Graham Spin? ( Quartermaster), P J G Grin..lie? W R A Jones.Tues April 5th 1960
Weather conditions: Wind direction: SW force 5 Rain with bright periods later.
6.30 am.
Wakey! Wakey!
We were awakened by the duty patrol leader and told the delightful news that our cold plunge awaited us. The news was greeted with various comments, but finally we assembled in the courtyard in patrol order and then ran down to the beach (lake shore) and jumped off the end of a small wooden jetty. Coooo it was cccold!!!!!.
8.00 Breakfasted on porridge, beans and sausages. During the morning a Doctors inspection was carried out and expedition equipment was collected from the store.
12.45. Dinner: Carrots, meat, sponge and custard.
2.0 – 5.45: General lecture and circuit training.
The circuit training consisted of step ups, press up, pull ups and weights.
The weights consisted of an iron bar with a can of caste concrete on each end.
Tests followed later in the course on: 1. Standing jump. 2. Medicine ball throw and press-ups. 3. Running sprinting and middle distant 4. Long distance 2 miles and cross country. Performance was rated as either Merit or Honours.
10.00 Lights out and windows open!
Wednesday April 13th
Weather: Rain with bright periods.
7.45 am OH THOSE BUMPS!!!! Then the wet clothes o-o-oeEEE!!
I still feel the misery of getting out of a warm dry sleeping bag and putting on cold wet clothes – and my Mum used to say “Don’t put on that shirt it’s not aired properly “
10.00 am. After a ”satisfying” breakfast we left camp and followed Rydal Beck into Rydal. Here we crossed the river leading from Rydal Water and followed the track along from Loughrigg Terrace until Silver Howe was reached. After several minutes deliberation it was decided in what direction we would have to travel to reach Castle Howe. On route from Silver Howe to castle Howe heavy driving rain was encountered. From Castle Howe we skirted around the top of the grags above Easedale Tarn. This entailed a steep climb down one side of the crags. From Easedale Tarn the track soon disappeared in a series of bogs and marshy ground and this proved to make progress very difficult. Just before reaching the village of Grasmere we had to wade across several deep streams which just about finished the job the rain had started.
At Grasmere substantial supplies of food were acquired from the local store. The bus was then caught for Rydal and the river was followed until the camp site was reached. It was tremendous relief to reach the camp site. However a scene of devastation met our eyes, two heaps of sodden canvas surrounded by utensils for various purposes.
After about half an hour however the heaps of wet canvas was transformed into two neatly pitched hiking tents and the rocks surrounding the camp were covered with clothing “drying” in the faint sunshine. The late afternoon and all the evening were spent cooking, eating and trying to keep warm. We “hit the hay” at about 8.00 pm.
Week 3
Tuesday April 19th
Weather: Warm and bright.
6.00 am Rise and dip.
9.00 Left on scheme.
We followed the main A592 until we reached Glencoyne, here we turned up beneath Black Crag. We followed the path through Sticks Pass to Stybeth. Here we turned North and followed the A591 until the junction with the second class road was reached. This was followed until Armboth on the edge of Lake Thirlemere. We then continued to the camp at “Hollows” near Grange via; High Towe, Watenlath and Yew Crag.
6.30 pm Arrived in camp and pitched tents and cooked a meal.
Prior to attending the course we had received written instructions: Included was advice on hardening our feet for a few weeks prior to attending the course by rubbing them with medical white spirit. On this evening our Patrol Instructor inspected out feet and lanced any blisters with a sterilised scalpel.
10.00 pm Lights out.
Unfortunately it is at this point that my log ends.
I remember having every intention of finishing it before the end of the course but alas did not, something I now regret very much. I believe that we finished the final expedition via Skidaw and Saddleback but other than thick low cloud cover I cannot recall any of the details. The course finished on the 30th April.
So ended a significant month in my life and I consider myself very lucky to have attended the Ullswater Outward Bound Mountain School....
Reviewing, and interpreting, my Outward Bound Log Book written in 1960 as a 17 year old after an interval of 52 years has been a strange experience.
The words clearly are written by me and I have vivid memories of most events, others are as if someone else must have played my part.
The world of 1960 does indeed now seem like a foreign country.
Perhaps it was a kinder, quieter more innocent world?
The social structures were different, e.g. I refer in my log to Mr…… no Christian names then!
The world of war had left an impression on older people and National Service was just coming to an end.
The world of health and safety was ruled by common sense rather than by statute. Navigation was done by map and compass rather than GPS. All telephones were land lines – no mobiles then.
The roads were a lot quieter– we did some of our timed athletics on the main road close to the boat house.
Clothing was mainly of wool or cotton and waterproofing was basic. Rucksacks were wooden framed with heavy webbing and cord. The canoes were wooden framed covered in canvas with wooden slats to sit on which left a distinct impression after an hour or so paddling.
Pop music was in its infancy – the Beatles were unknown.
On April 4th Elvis Presley recorded “Are you lonesome tonight” for the first time.
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan had just made his “Wind of Change speech”
The lowest point on earth had just been reached.
In June 1960 J F Kennedy won the California Democratic primary.
A U2 spy aircraft is shot down by the USSR
It was the year of the Rome summer Olympics.
And now the future as seen from 1960 is easier to see looking backwards.
I remain happily married after 46 years, I have four grown up children and four grandchildren. I worked for PO/BT for 32 years – finishing as an engineering manager with 31 staff. I then made a career change to become a small business adviser for 10 years.
I have been a member of the scout association since the age of 10 finally retiring after 57 years.
I hope since my days at Ullswater Outward Bound Mountain School I have met some of the aims of Outward Bound that is “To serve, to strive, and not to yield”
And what of today – “I am still trying to decide what I will do when I grow up! “
You may also find the following links interesting, relating to Ron's memories of his OB course and a site he has set up with poems he has written about The Lake District: