What do scenic Lakes District landscapes, skiing to Antarctica and cycling around the world have in common?
These were some of the highlights of the recent adventure organised for supporters and beneficiaries by The Outward Bound Trust.
My colleague Sarah and I responded to the invitation and experienced first-hand what our chosen charity has to offer.
Mix the views over the Lakes District in autumn with learning about endurance expeditions.
Add the chance to test your limits and strength by climbing the tallest peak in England, Scafell Pike.
Then consider the opportunity of meeting other supporters and also beneficiaries.
You will get the picture of how we spent a very meaningful second weekend of October 2019 at Eskdale Green center.
Our Choice - Mountain Journey
If I were to choose my favourite activity of the weekend, I would find it difficult to only pick one.
We had been invited to learn about what Outward Bound Trust offers to their young beneficiaries.
Gladly accepting the invitation, we knew the weekend entailed outdoors activities, talks and presentations. Both sides of our schedule exceeded my expectations.
The organisers set up four activities for us participants to engage in.
Canoeing, gorge scrambling, mountain hiking and a light walk across Eskdale were on offer.
Sarah and I decided to go for the mountain venture.
On the day, our instructor Stephen opened a map to recommend couple of routes.
Our group chose to climb off the beaten path. We also aimed for the longest route, reaching the summit of Scafell Pike.
Six Hours Intense Hiking Route
Stephen drove us in a minibus to Wasdale Head.
From there, we settled on the following route: Piers Gill, Lingmell, Scafell Pike, back to Lingmell, and down to Wasdale Head.
The only actual path we took was the one leading up to the summit.
Even going down we just crossed the pasture, improvising around hidden puddles and springs, and down the steep slope.
We were rewarded with awe-inspiring views, the chance to talk and share with our group members and learning how our own bodies reacted to a six hours intense hike.
On this adventure, the best moment I experience was sitting down for lunch, by Piers Gill, and admiring how far we’d already reached.
We were about to climb this rocky staircase, something I never thought I would do.
The more experienced members of the group helped us here with both encouragement and advice on how to proceed.
But as we were eating our pre-packed lunches, I looked at the whole landscape opening in front of us.
Generally a very chatty person, I fell silent.
The clouds were passing over the Great Gable, with a patch of sunshine moving along.
We were perched on the steep slope, a white sheep watching us from a rock over the gully.
I felt humbled and also grateful to be able to soak in the majesty of the mountain.
Sarah’s Account Of The Adventure
I signed up for this adventure at Eskdale Green centre together with my colleague Sarah and nine other participants.
With different levels of experience in hiking and mountain climbing, we all shared in the challenge and supported each other.
This is one of the aspects which my colleague Sarah (in photo, left, with me, right) points out in her account of the experience. She says:
“I’ll be honest, I was a little apprehensive as I was unsure of what I’d be able to do. However when we got there, everyone was so welcoming and there was no pressure at all to do anything we felt uncomfortable doing. Catalina and I opted for the mountain walk which was a real adventure! We ended up climbing Scafell Pike doing some scrambling along the way. The views were incredible although sadly, when we got to the summit, it was shrouded in cloud so we saw nothing but white! It was definitely challenging. But thanks to the support of everyone in our small group, I made it down the mountain and am so proud of what I achieved that day. It was a great weekend. I’ve learnt that you can achieve more than you think you can and that there are always people willing to help and support you. I won’t forget it in a hurry!”
Antarctica In 66 Days, Cycling Around The World In 80
Sarah also mentions the other side of our schedule: learning about two impressive expeditions.
“There were evening talks by 2 very inspirational people, Joe Doherty and Mark Beaumont. Their stories related perfectly to what The Outward Bound Trust stands for and strives to do for the young people.”
On the first evening, we listened to Outward Bound instructor, Joe Doherty.
He is the first scout to ski the South Pole in 66 days.
He took part in this expedition together with three people of different nationalities, and crossed the last stretch back paraglading on ski with his Norwegian colleague.
They covered a distance equivalent to travelling from Guernsey to Neapoli.
An intense expedition, it proved both physically and mentally strenuous.
Joe mentioned how challenging it felt to look at the same white vastness for every hour, 66 days, in full daylight. He said:
“We don’t conquer Antarctica, we are just allowed to go through it.”
Mark Beaumont’s record of cycling around the world in less than 80 days knocked off an impressive 44 days off the previously held one.
He talked about his experience of such ultra-endurance cycling treks.
Mark had already circled the world in an adventure on his own, no team involved, as well as completed a North to South tour of Africa.
But on his major endeavour he relied on a strong team he put together.
They worked with facts and according to a strict plan. Mark never stopped cycling before reaching his 16 hours daily target, to reach the average of 240 miles in distance.
Both these stories taught us a lot about how much human limits can be pushed.
But also they talk about how much the right preparation, training, and support truly matter.
How The Outward Bound Trust Supports Young People
The Outward Bound Trust runs a number of centers across the UK.
They offer young people the chance to do outdoors activities with an aim to teach them about their strengths, build confidence and make new friendships.
Their beneficiaries, aged 11 to 24, come from different backgrounds.
We learnt the following facts from Oliver Blomfield, Head of Summer Programmes:
- 1200 young people participate in these programmes from the end of June to the end of September;
- participants of 30 nationalities took part this summer of 2019 at their different centres in the UK;
- 20% of these came from oversees, from countries in South America to Asia, and of course Europe;
- 20% of the participants from the UK fully paid for the fees involved;
- 60% of the participants from the UK benefited from funding through the charity's Adventure Fund;
- donations from supporters go into these funds.
A Teacher's View
In our group hiking to Scafell Pike we had four teachers from schools benefiting from these funds and activities.
After sharing such an adventure together, we asked them what thoughts they took back home with them.
Andrew Rudge, from Church Broughton Primary School in Derby, shared his side of the story with us:
“In the bright morning sun 10 strangers gathered to decide the plan for a day in the mountains. Without knowing each other’s experience, a challenging scramble up Scafell Pike was decided upon. As the day progressed, each member of our group faced a challenge and developed new relationships. The sun set upon a truly rewarding day. Outward Bound offer the opportunity for young people from our schools to experience days like the one described above. Some of these young people may not have these chances otherwise, and because of this, the work done here is vital in improving the breadth of experience of our children”