Andrew Mitchell (FS 63-68) writes of visiting St Bees and walking the Coast to Coast in August 2016.
“In late 2015 we decided to visit the UK from Perth, Western Australia and undertake the Coast to Coast walk. This starts in St Bees and terminates in Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire. Initially it was Katrina and myself, but then it expanded to our son Neil and Alice and they walked with us for the first four days from St Bees to Patterdale (Ullswater). When visiting the UK I invariably see my friends from St Bees. It might seem a bit corny, but the friends I made during my five years at the school have been some of the longest lasting and important friendships in my life. St Bees is an important place to me and I was sad to see the school temporarily not operating as a school and effectively in moth balls, but still looking good.
As it was a Saturday there was no one on site and we were able to have a look around. Fred Lord had offered to give us a conducted tour but I declined his kind offer, relayed through Pam Rumney.
We had ideal walking conditions with no hot weather and only two wet days. Outings as a cadet whilst at St Bees prepared me for the Lake District, even if it was fifty years ago. On one cross-country map-reading exercise we were caught in low cloud but luckily didn’t panic and continued and we came out at the appointed place and the bus was waiting for us. What a relief. On the walk from Patterdale to Bampton Grange we would have had to walk across Kidsty Pike but as the weather forecast for that day was lousy, with rain and low cloud, we gave the walking a swerve and caught the ferry up Ullswater, had lunch at the Sun Inn and then caught the bus to Bampton Grange.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to convey the walking conditions to my wife and she found some of the terrain and hills a struggle. We met a naked, ginger male walker, going west along Ennerdale Water and witnessed the evacuation by a mountain rescue helicopter of a woman who had broken her ankle west of Grasmere.
We stayed at Ennerdale Bridge and I had hoped to see Pam Rumney on her home turf, but she was on holiday in Tuscany.
At Keld in North Yorkshire we had a barbeque with James (F 63-66) and Christine Bell. James was in Foundation with me and they came over to see how we were getting on. James and I lost contact in the 1970s and I tracked him down in 2012 with Martin Field’s help. James still likes fast cars!
In Richmond, we were joined by David (FS 63-68) and Doreen Smillie and they walked with us for a day to Danby Wiske and it was great to have their company. David was in my year in Foundation South and we have kept in contact over the years.
We also visited Brian (FS 65-70) and Rosemarie Fisher in Ilkley and spent a day with them in Scarborough. We didn’t get to ride the donkeys.
I also caught up with Chris Lewis (G 63-68) as our respective visits to the UK managed to intersect by a week. Chris and I did A level botany and zoology (with Murdoch, Chimp Harries and J.M. Bell) with Mr Jones.”
Andrew may be contacted at email@example.com
Please click here to see photogrpahs.