Trips to the hills

Living in Windermere, it’s only an hour to the top of Orrest Head, School Knott or Biskey Howe, stunning views from all of them over the Lake to Claife Heights and the Langdale Pikes.

photo School Knott

Dad, John and Helen on School Knott, early 1960s. They’re sitting on one of the two wooden sledges he made for us!

photo J and H in snow

My parents’ first car was a Bedford van, bought around 1960. My dad withdrew £300 to buy it from a garage at Bolton-le-Sands. This must have been quite a sum as he was contacted by the tax office, asking him where he’d got the money from. He gave them his bank details and they didn’t pursue the matter further. It was in good condition and had collapsible seats in the back, so great for camping.

A later car was a Post Office van. It was being sold off from the Post Office, who were auctioning it by inviting ‘sealed bids’. My dad thought most people would bid £20, so he bid £21 and his strategy paid off!

photo Stac Pollaidh

Mum, John and Helen in the Bedford van in front of Stac Pollaidh, NW Scotland

It must have been a long trip because, in the same album, there are a few photos from the Cairngorms in the eastern Highlands of Scotland.

photo snowball fight

Snowball fight in the Cairngorms, looks like very old snow, so it’s probably around May time.

photo campfire and van

Campfire time, the same holiday in Scotland.

A couple of years later the family went to Glen Coe by bus. This is my mum, brother and sister looking across at two of the “three sisters of Glen Coe” as the ridges of Bidean are called.

photo Glen coe

Glen Coe, around 1963

My sister was quite well travelled, and my mum must have been indignant when Lindsey Tombs was featured in the Daily Mirror for climbing Ben Nevis when she was 9.

photo Daily Mirror

Bragging rights: my mum and sister wrote to the Daily Mirror and the letter was published on Monday 22nd July 1963 (Everest, however, remains unclimbed)!

Back to the Lake District photo, this time on Blencathra. The grins of my mum, brother and sister (peeping out from under the shelter) probably reflect their elation at getting out of the rain!

photo Blencathra 1961

Joy when my dad pulled this tarpaulin out of his rucksack – rainy day on Blencathra 1961.

I was born in 1965, and this photo of us at Wasdale Head, one of the remotest parts of the Lakes, was taken around 1968.

photo Wasdale

Mum, me, dad and Helen at Wasdale Head, 1968 or ’69. My brother John took the photo.

My brother and sister left home in the 1970s so there was just the three of us … with the luxury of a framed tent!

photo framed tent

At Wasdale Head, about 1975. My mum and I would often spend a week or two there in the summer, my dad joining us at the weekend.

I love this photo of me and mum when I was about 10. Dad says it was taken after we’d been to the Highland Games at Drumnadrochit and were driving on to Beauly.

photo Drumnadrochit to Beauly heather

By the side of the A833 Drumnadrochit to Beauly road

My dad was a boat builder, first for Borwicks, then Anchorage for seven years (1956–63). After that he went into partnership with Jack Youdell for three years. This was the time that he designed and built The Venture for Bowness Bay Boating Company. He joined Bowness Bay Boating Company in 1966, when it was an association during the summer months, all the boatmen looking after their own boats in the winter. In 1968, it became a formal limited company, of which all nine were directors.

The story of how dad got his job at Borwicks is one of remarkable persistence. He was 15 and had worked as an apprentice motor mechanic at Wooley’s Garage in Windermere, but wasn’t enjoying it. Dad asked for a job at Borwicks at the start of the Christmas holidays and was told ‘no vacancies’. At Easter the same happened, and again at the start of the summer holidays. But at the start of the next Christmas holidays, he was told, ‘wait outside’. He waited and 5 minutes later an old chap came out so dad promptly took his hands out of his pockets. The old man filled his pipe with tobacco, walked towards him, the turned away towards the machine shed. My dad stood and waited. Ten minutes later the secretary came out of the office and said ‘When can you start? The pay will be as for a 14 year old.’ An interview with few words. He took the Borwicks job and the pay cut, the rest, as they say, is history!

He appears three times in this ciné film made by Norman Smith from around 1967, posted on the Facebook Group Bowness, Windermere and the Lake in Bygone Days in August 2017 (in case my link doesn’t work!).


One comment

  1. Pingback: The photo that started it all … « The Armers of Lancashire

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