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Bert and Toj
Bert (right) with son Toj, to whom he has passed on his skills of hillwalking, supping pints, and taking money off everyone (except Bert) at the pool table. The classic Snowdon Horseshoe is in the background
The following is in Bert's words...

A school pal of mine, Robin Mason was the original catalyst. We were never schoolmates but were aware of each other however we met up again a few years later in competition with one another as car rallying enthusiasts in The Gainsborough and District Motor Club. We regularly did battle as "navigators" in the days when it was OK to tear around roads and tracks at high speeds often through the night, without regulation. We started to follow the annual RAC Rally each year which always had special stages around our patch. One year, I think 1966, the year before the first Foot and Mouth epidemic, Robin suggested that we should go and watch the rally stages in Pickering Forest on the Saturday evening and then travel over to St Bees where we could stay with Robins uncle, do something in the Lakes on the Sunday and watch the Rally again on the Monday as it came back from the Scottish stages. Robins uncle was a schoolteacher, a great outdoorsman and a climber. Robins cousin Brian another rock nut, an engineer at Calder Hall, joined us for the Sunday which was to be my introduction to both The Lakes and to rope rock climbing. The day was spent in Wasdale on rocky outcrops climbing up and absieling back down to do a different route back up again. I don't remember seeing any others climbing and only the odd walkers. We had the place to ourselves and even though I hadn't been to a "top" I was hooked. We had the lowdown from the locals as to where to go to watch the rally on the Monday and it all fitted quite nicely. The following year we returned though this time the fells were closed off because of the Foot and Mouth so instead went climbing on the sandstone of St Bees cliffs. Hairy!

We continued doing The Lakes as an annual trip but the RAC Rally was always the determining weekend and usually the middle weekend of November.

Brian and his new wife Judith, another keen climber, scrambler, became our hosts firstly at their home in Drigg and later to their little cottage up in the hills above Loweswater. My introduction to The Kirkstile Inn, a pub that never called time, late night sessions and midnight runs up Melbreak played their part in my addiction to the fells.

In 1970 the family and I moved to Ipswich but I continued meeting up with Robin for the RAC weekend. 1971 Alan Phillips joined Pauls and we were introduced. It wasn't long before we were swapping notes on our joint interests in hill walking and in 1972 (I think!) he joined Robin and I for The Lakes Weekend. We chose to stay at The Grange Hotel, Loweswater, rather than impose a stranger on Brian and Judith - though we did meet up with them one evening. We climbed Scafel from Wasdale on a miserable wet and dreary day that just got wetter as the afternoon turned darker. Alan and I have clear memories of the three of us piling out of the car in the hotel car park dressed only in wet underpants and clutching our belongings to hastily pass through reception and collect our keys from the startled straight laced lady of the house!