In the beginning…

Okay, what started it all?

My first visit to the Lake District some 42 years ago as part of my Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award expedition training. The venture had been arranged through school and our expedition trainers from Number 3 Army Youth Team, Royal Engineers. It was also the first trip away that didn’t involve any kind of parental presence!

We stayed in premises near The Golden Rule pub in Ambleside – a bunkhouse with basic cooking and washing facilities and enough beds for the Army guys, us and the teachers who had given up their weekend off to supervise us.

Yes, it was an all-male affair at that hut back in the early 1970s as the female contingent were staying at Ambleside Youth Hostel on the shores of Lake Windermere and they were doing different walks to us.

If memory serves me right, our first walk was over Scandale Pass to Brotherswater and then back over to Ambleside via Kirkstone Pass Inn. As we were all under age and there were teachers with us, there wasn’t the chance to down a pint at lunchtime, so thoughts were more focussed on the map reading and the surrounding countryside rather than staying on our feet and pointing ourselves in the right direction.

The odd half was enjoyed later in the day though after the walk as we cleaned up, ate at the baked potato bar in Ambleside and then hit some licensed premises without any teachers in tow…

Was it Worthington E or Watney’s Red Barrel? The name of the brew is lost in time, but the half went down well and my sensible head took over and ensured that it wasn’t followed by another one.

The second day’s walking was somewhat easier – over Loughrigg and back before getting back into Ambleside, picking up our holdalls and getting the bus back home.

That first trip wasn’t the last one as most of us went on our first camping venture for the Award – to Neaum Crag camp site near Skelwith Bridge. Then came a winter venture based at Ambleside Youth Hostel with a day on Fairfield and a snowball fight with the teachers on Loughrigg… But I’d already been bitten by the bug on that first trip.

In the years since then I’ve walked in the UK, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, France, Spain, done some climbing and biking, headed out on cross-country skis in Norway, Austria, Scotland and County Durham and travelled to a few other places too to see what’s out there.

I’ve also been an instructor for a local authority where part of my remit was to train youngsters up for the expedition section of The Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award and last, but not least, I became a writer on a range of walking and other outdoor/travel titles and worked on the magazine that had helped nurture my early interest in the outdoors – Climber.

When the latter came calling, i’d successfully gone from rock to rock as I’d been a music writer for a few years too doing live reviews, album reviews and interviews too. Oh, and had managed a trio of bands too. 160 bands in a year? That’ll do nicely!

The skills learned in the 1970s and at Glenmore Lodge when I did my Mountain Leader training in the 1980s are still used, but not as often as they used to be after a stroke a few years ago. Sometimes I can do thirteen miles in a day, sometimes it’s four – it just depends on how I’m feeling at the time. The memories don’t go away though as I found out when Caroline and I headed to the Lakes last year.

We’d found an apartment near Ambleside whilst trawling the internet for accommodation. Small, comfortable and just what we needed to do some walking, photography or cycling as the leaves changed colour in time for Autumn.

By sheer coincidence, the apartment was part of the complex at Neaum Crag near Skelwith Bridge that emerged when the camp site I’d visited in the 1970s was closed down in the 1980s….

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About Keith Rickaby

Fiftysomething writer and occasional photographer who has worked in the tailoring trade and the outdoor/travel clothing, equipment and footwear game. Past lives include working as an outdoor instructor, managing three bands and doing PR work through an agency or my own contacts. Was a student in the mid-90s and whilst I'm originally from the North East, I'm now firmly based in't Yorkshire...

2 responses to “In the beginning…”

  1. Deanna Sallao says :

    Hi there! I’m loving your recent posts!
    What inspires you to travel? Have you ever stayed in a hostel? How was it?
    I also blogged about the latest travel book that I have published with Createtrips.com, it’s all about my hunt for the Top 5 Hostels in Manila, Philippines.
    here’s the link – http://wp.me/p3yrDq-C8
    Can’t wait to hear from you!

    Regards,
    Deanna Sallao ( http://www.talkaboutbeauty.co)

    Like

    • keith rickaby says :

      The inspiration to travel came about back in the 1970s when my parents prevented me from going on a school trip to Norway. Since then I’ve made eleven trips to that country and still want to keep going back, even after the events that took place just one week after our last visit to Oslo.

      Stayed in a few hostels in my time – in the UK, Norway, Portugal and Iceland. Was involved with the hostel movement here in the UK for a few years and my partner Caroline used to be an assistant warden at one popular hostel over here.

      We’re not adverse to hostels or camping at all, but most of our recent trips have been centred around guest houses or small hotels (we not of an age where we’re about to check into The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or The Second Best Marigold Hotel – yet! A discussion a couple of nights ago did however lead to an idea for a very significant birthday trip to India in 2018 that may see us using hostels over there! It will be my first trip out of Europe, but not Caroline’s…

      A wisepacking book is on the cards by the way!

      Like

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