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The Bert Awards

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Winners of the Bert Award
     During the many years existence of the IWCL, there have obviously been many "misadventures" of the kind only walking in the hills can provide. Fortunately, to date, none experienced by our members have involved an injury to anything more than pride! However, many incidents have been the source of much merriment to those fortunate to winess the mishap of our luckless members. Over the years, most of the stories have been related in the pub afterwards - but, to the thankfull unfortunate, forgotten soon afterwards. However, in 1991 at the Lakes weekend, a navigation cockup of such magnitude occurred - to two of the most experienced members (Bert Graham and Ray Beach) - that Mike Adams produced a splendid trophy, a silver disc mounted alongside the compass in question on a piece of ancient oak carved along the lines of the IWCL logo.

It was named the "Bert Award" and has been presented every subsequent year, by Bert to a member chosen by himself, who he decides has managed to do something that weekend, that in the retelling would provide merriment for all. If you visit the "winners" page, you will see that many of the episodes did not occur in the hills - a mountain location is not a prerequisite for making an idiot of yourself!! It is important to note that the Bert Award is only presented for achievements at Lake district weekends. Those attending the Wales weekend, can do so in the knowledge that their incidents, of however great a hilarity, are not recorded for posterity. The award is presented at the Saturday night dinner - an acceptance speech is mandatory. Cost of engraving the new name is borne by the "winner"!

The full list of winners, and a brief overview of each prize-winning event (barring the first - see below), can be seen here

The event causing the introduction of the award is best told by Bert, the recipient, himself.......

"16th November 1991. Several members of IWCL decided that Bowfell would be the walk for the day. Bert and Ray maintained their usual position near the rear of the party, to watch out for stragglers you understand. Stef, Gibbo, Mike Adams etc pushed on ahead. Bert and Ray were quite happy plodding along, just a mere trip to the summit and back down into Langdale to the pub at dusk. Towards the summit in thickening mist the pair followed footsteps in the snow. No further signs of the front runners, likely already back supping pints by the fire. The path wound its way through the summit rocks to the pinnacle of Bowfell and a few words af acknowledgement with another group who were just about to descend. Bert and Ray in gathering gloom didn't hang about but started retracing steps back to the three tarns. The path at three tarns would be easy to distinguish, and from there a 90 left and they would be on their way down to the band and the pub.

Following the clear footprints, there came a point where, through the mist, Bert saw a big drop off to the right that he hadn't noticed on the way up. Thinks! "Ray, I dont remember this do you". "No". Best get out the compass, says Bert. They did actually have both map and compass but rarely used them - they never needed them! The next part of the conversation is the classic. "Ray, which end of the compass points North. If its red we are going 180 degrees the wrong way and that can't be right" Ray didn't argue and followed the leader South, or so they thought. At the point that would have co-incided with the path at three tarns, there was a path bearing slightly off and down to the left - so they took it. It would be a short cut to the band.

After following this rather inconspicuos path down into an enclosing valley, the pair still managed to convince themselves that the must be descending into Langdale. It had to be right, they must be going down Oxendale. And so they continued. Funny how the mind works. There was nothing that seemed right yet they plodded on. As light slowly went, the walking was hard work. Through the intake wall, past the farm and eventually the road. "Wherever we are, we've made it". The telephone box was the real clue. "Eskdale", clearly written on the dial! Thanks to the warden at the youth hostel, "people do it all the time, but you had a map and compass!". A telephone call and the kind ferrying back by Mike Adams, Bert and Ray eventually arrived at The Glenridding and much merriment. Whilst some of the group had had concerns and nearly called out mountain rescue others, knowing the pair in question, had been much more relaxed."
It should be born in mind that as regards his part in this "adventure", Ray kept his head down, and for many years his contribution went un-noticed. However, the past eventually caught up with him in 2004, when he was the recipient of the Bert Award - in due recognition of his role.