No. 203

OSB Logo The Old St Beghian
  July 2023


Dan Colver (SH 60-64) recalls an expedition to Africa:

“Possibly my greatest memory of my time at St Bees was the Easter holidays of 1963. Three masters, Gordon Dyke, Alan Francis and Ron Johnson set off on an adventure of a lifetime, with seven pupils, those being Langley Brown, David Pecker, Neil Dumbleton, Richard Woodhead, Dick Langhorn, Mike Jamison and myself.

The journey from St Bees started on the overnight sleeper to Euston and then by train to Dover, where we picked up a minibus. One of the first problems with the minibus was that we had too much luggage and so all but necessities had to be left behind. The journey through France, Spain and Morocco took a week. We eventually arrived at the end of the road in the Atlas Mountains and walked for several hours to set up a base camp. When we arrived in the mountains the weather had not looked safe enough to take on the challenge of conquering Mount Toubkal at 13671ft (in new money 4167m). Eventually the weather improved and two successful climbs to the top were completed. The views of the Sahara desert from the summit were just another highlight of the trip.

I believe several more visits to the Atlas mountains were made by the school in later Easter holidays, but we were the first.
We had many adventures on our journey: visiting the market in Marrakech, a sea trip across the Straits of Gibraltar, exploring the Rock, nights under the stars, rough camping.
The trip was subsidised by the C.C.F. as an arduous training exercise, and went towards my gaining the Duke of Edinburgh's Silver Award. Our parents made a contribution of £25, I do not think you will find value for money like that today.
Could such a trip be made nowadays with all the health and safety measures that would be necessary? I doubt it. How life has changed after sixty years.

I write this note in memory of my fellow travellers for those three weeks we all enjoyed in the Easter holidays of 1963.”

Dan has sent in two photos, from Neil Dumbleton (FS 60-64) and Langley Brown (SH 59-64).

OSB Notes - Dan Colver

The climbing photo taken by Richard Woodhead (FS 60-64) shows Gordon Dyke leading, with Alan Francis
bringing up the rear. This was the first group to climb Mt Toubkal.
Dan, along with Langley Brown, completed the climb with Gordon Dyke the following day.

OSB Notes - Dan Colver (Reunion)

The second photo of the group of four was taken by Richard Woodhead at a reunion held 10 years ago. From left to right Langley Brown, Neil Dumbleton, Dan Colver and Mike Jamison (FN 61-65).

Ed - Other articles about Atlas mountain trips have been included in previous Bulletins and may be found at the following links:–

July 2010 – by Alison Strafford (nee Lamping) (L/G 77-84) - and

January 2012 - Reminiscences from Richard Woodhead (FS 60-64) and David Elston (FS 65-70) -




The St Beghian Society    
St Bees School,    St Bees,    Cumbria,    CA27 0DS

Tel: (01946) 828093     
Email:      Web:

                                                                    Facebook Logo