3rd Gidea Park Scout Group
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HQ. The Rowswell Hall, St Michaels Church, Gidea Park.
 Beavers (6 - 8 years) Tues & Fri | Cubs (8 - 10.5) Tues & Fri | Scouts (10.5 - 14) 7:30 Thur

JUNE 1960

On reflection it is only logical that upon returning from the 1959 trip we should look forward to doing a similar expedition in 1960. Opinion was in favour of the same route and mountains but in a much shorter time.

Dave Sixsmith the Navigator revised the whole route and timings and after many weeks of work came forward with a complete timetable showing we could do the expedition, with only two alterations in route, in 96 hours including the seven mountains but without camping stops.

At this stage a most important development took place that was to alter the whole conception of this expedition. It was ascertained that the Ford Motor Co. of Dagenham was very interested in our project and proposed subject to hearing our full plans to loan us a Thames, 12 Seater, 15 cwt. Estate Van free of charge. The initial plans were then speeded up and Dave Sixsmith and Ray Dallas produced a document giving details of route, timings, gear, weight ratios and other relevant details that we thought would be of interest to the Ford Motor Co. Mr. Sixsmith, Chairman of the group Committee presented this to Fords with a covering letter and we sat back and waited for results.

The Van

By now it was December 1959 and at the Crew Christmas Dinner we decided on who the members of the expedition should be. It was agreed that the party would number four. Only Dave Sharp was not a member of the 1959 trip but his inclusion this time was to prove a great asset in his close relationship with the Ford Motor Co.

 In the New Year, the four members met in the Gymnasium at Liverpool Street Station and thrashed out the preliminary details and duties as follows were allocated out.

Dave Sixsmith Navigator
Ramon Dallas Q.M. C-ear/Food & Climbing Leader
Brian Hood Photographer
Dave Sharp Mechanic & Purser

Among other decisions made at this meeting was a training run over the weekend 19/20 March, subsequently altered to the 26/27 March because of Dave's Police duties. During the weekend a run of 1,OOO miles and three mountains would be attempted stimulating as near as possible actual conditions of the expedition proper. This meant of course continuous driving except for the climbs, which resulted in the necessity of providing two beds in the vehicle for shifts to be worked, two sleeping and two driving/navigating. It was agreed the shifts should be of six hours each, the driving and navigating being split as it suited the two individuals. The overall roster would be the responsibility of the Navigator-in-Chief as before.

Many other ideas were adopted at this meeting but more of these later.

A few days later we heard the glad tidings from Fords that they were willing to help us and Dave Sharp was charged with the work of negotiating direct regarding lighting, spares and other accessories for the vehicle.

 During the weeks that followed through January, February and March the route for the training weekend was devised by Dave Sixsmith, Gear was made, assembled and collected at Maidenhead by Ray, Brian prepared his photographic equipment and Dave Sharp worked in close liaison with the people at Fords.

 The weekend of the 26/27th March dawned and Dave Sharp took delivery of a new Ford Thames Estate Van from Dagenham and we all met at King' s Cross and proceeded to Maidenhead from where we were to start our training trip.

 Very briefly the result of this weekend was as follows. We did 1,022 miles in 41 hours 37 minutes (3 minutes to spare) The three mountains proved difficult in fact Scafell was not attempted because of darkness. We did a major adjustment to the steering of the van instead. The driving, navigating and sleeping routine worked fine and after eighteen hours or so sleep came naturally at the right time!! In comparison with last year 's expedition, mechanical trouble was nil, which is thanks undoubtedly to Fords and Dave our mechanic.

 Eating arrangement worked well and the new grub box, taking the place of the two we had in 1959 was an undisputed success. A gallon of coffee was made at each climb and kept in vacuum flasks, so plenty was available for all during driving and navigating together with fresh sandwiches.

 On Thursday 12th May we had a further meeting at Hornchurch, a kind of post-mortem on the training trip and run through on plans for the trip proper. The only amendments to original arrangements decided was as follows. Start and Finish to be Marble Arch, Dave Sixsmith to amend the route and timing accordingly Climbing rota to be altered to Dave Sixsmith climbing Snowdon and Dave Sharp and Ray, Kinder Scout, Dave on his own if weather good and plenty of daylight. The climber would not use the bicycle on Snowdon as no time would be saved by cycling up the Miners Track than walking up the Pyg Track, Cycle definitely a must for Ben MacDhue, it will cut out nearly ten miles of walking on a road, which we cannot take the van because of a locked gate.

 A fortnight prior to the trip proper final preliminary publicity sheet, smallar to last year's "Blue sheet" was produced. This gave full details of the route, what we we're setting out to do, Emergency details, and an acknowledgement Ford Motor Co. This was distributed on the "Woggle" scale, approximately 100 copies.

 The eve of the trip proper saw the van with roof rack, bicycle, an added reversing light, and two dormant figures reclining on two lielos, the camp beds having been discarded as unsuitable due to road vibrations being felt. The two who were driving/navigating first slept in the Rover Den, and at 4.15 am the van and team left together with an Austin 'Big 7' and four occupants as escort. These occupants were to film. our escape from London at the Marble Arch and for a short time afterwards on our way South West for High Willhays. On the stretch from London to Exeter our way was easy as traffic was light. At Exeter we paid a visit to Vernon Hood who is at Exeter University. Dartmoor soon came into view, and in no time we were Oakehmpton, off the main road, and bumping along a track that affords a good leaving point for High Willhays. Brian and camera set off for the summit while the remainder busied themselves with maintenance food and cleaning. Brian returned on time and we set off with time in hand, The 'tripper' traffic had increased by this time and was even more noticeable on the narrower roads of Cornwall.


Parked for High Willhays, Meldon Viaduct Near Oakhampton in the background.

At Land's End postcards were sent, a meal prepared and consumed, and with the van turned round we were off once more to Exeter. The weather was still fine the afternoon having mellowed slowly into evening until somewhere, just after Exeter, the setting sun saw us eating a mixed grill at a transport cafe. This stop lasted barely an hour before we were off again for the labyrinth of streets that is Bristol, The route then took us to Gloucester where we cut across B roads to the A. 9 and Leominster. This road was to take us through the valley made by those ancient rock outcrops of Long Mynd and the Wrekin until the A5 and Shrewsbury by-pass.  The A5 carried us through wooded valleys and mountain passes in the early hours of the morning until the rising sun found us at the foot of Snowdon. The trip to the summit and back was made by Dave Sixsmith - the bike not being employed.

 Again Warrington produced its traffic problems, but we were able to make up time on the Preston, and later on, the Lancaster by-passes. Just before the Lancaster by-pass there was a happy reunion with "Minnie", who on this occasion had not been waiting more than a flew minutes

 Scafell Pike was reached without incident, Ray making the ascent. Good stretches of road both on this side and over the boarder all owed for fast driving until Glasgow and the A82 which was to take us nearly to Inverness. It was still dark upon our arrival at Glen Nevis at the foot of Ben Nevis, The darkness was accompanied by the rapturous snores of the navigator, who had not cared less since the moonlit scenery of Loch Lomond. Dave Sixsmith made his way to the cairn strewn summit that afforded a marvellous view of snow for a least 25 yards where every thing merged into mist.

 After the climber's return there was a short visit to Fort William for petrol, and having stocked up we sped North West through the Great Glen on our way to Ben Hope with the scenery lost on at least two of the "goldfish". Next call on route was Lairg in Sutherland, where we were pleased to pick up a vast quantity of mail. We left Lairg for Altnaharra where the road was to be exchanged for track which took us to the West flank of Ben Hope. Brian and Ray immediately took to the heather their progress watched with interest by the other two who wore later joined by a Mr. Winstanley, who was cycling in Mickey Everett fashion to Cape Wrath. The climb successfully completed, the main road at Hope Lodge was attained, Mr. Winstanley dropped off, and the journey continued fast along the northern coast of Scotland with glimpses of surf breaking on the beaches and cliffs to relieve the confinement of the "goldfish bowl"

 Through Thurso and on to John O'Groats where we had a chat with the local constabulary on relative speeds. Thurso was an extremely short stop at the John O'Groats Hotel before we turned south on the A9.  Hemsdale and. Wick were passed, before dark and the coastal road was left for the moors just as the sun was going down. The A. 9 was regained and took us through Inverness to Carrbridge where left it for Grantown on Spey, Tomintoul, Braemar and the start for Ben Macdhui. The cycle was then taken down, assembled, Dave Sixsmith put on it, pointed the right way and sent off. The track took him for about four miles to Derry Lodge where the bike was reluctantly parked, and the spreading feet took over carrying him to the mist shrouded summit via numerous minor high parts. The bike was thankfully retrieved and sat upon, and the scramble to the van recommenced. On reaching the van he was placed inside with his boots still on and we set off again, this time for Kinder Scout. After about 10 miles the boots were off and the windows opened. We descended from the magnificent hills to the Central Valley, Kincardine Bridge, Edinburgh, and the A68 which was to take us through Jedburgh and over the border at the Cheviots, then down to Scotch Corner via a B road, and the A1 The day was exceptionally warm and was ideal for driving with little traffic about to hinder us. Refreshments were taken shortly at a transport cafe at Leeming Bar, but that produced little let up for shortly we were off again along the open road for Castleford and the minor roads of the industrial West Riding.

 Although we had made up time, we were still about an hour down on reaching the Snake Inn departure point for Kinder Scout. The climbers left equipped with two torches at about half an hour before sunset.

 After a meal at the roadside, the party left again for Glossop, Buxton, and the A515 to Ashbourne where sleep again robbed us of the correct route. 20 minutes were lost in regaining the right route, but we were soon to ran out of petrol; after refuelling from the roof rack stores we jammed the starter motor.  This necessitated our waking the Mechanic, (it was his turn to sleep) to unstick the thing. Litchfield again came into view, and soon we were rolling along the A.5 and the Motorway along which we averaged 61 m.p.h. We arrived at Marble Arch at 6.10 a.m. one hour, ten minutes overdue.

in use

The Van In Full Use


 This year' s route gave less navigational problems than were encountered in the 1959 Expedition. By using a larger proportion of well signed 'A' and 'B' roads there was less trouble in navigating correctly, which is just as well as the major problem for the navigators was keeping awake.

 Our greatest time loser was the mountains where we lost time on them all except High Willhays where we managed to keep the schedule. The times for the mountains included not only the climbing time but also in some of the cases time for preparing for the climb and also a meal for the climber on completion of the climb.

 Having meals other than at climbing stops lost us 2 hours 47 minutes.  The stop of 1 hour at Lands End could have been reduced by having pre-written post cards, which are admittedly less personal but must inevitable reduce time.

 The meal outside Exeter was had at a transport cafe and was very substantial and welcome. The term fuelling is somewhat misleading for although we stopped to refuel on these occasions the majority of the time was spent on other matter such as making small purchases.  At Ashbourne we ran out of Petrol and refilled from our supply on the roof rack, this led eventually to our one mechanical stop of the starter motor sticking. I hasten to add not a fault of the vehicle.

 Only 32 minutes were lost due to navigation, 8 minutes in Bristol which is a city apparently without any major roads, and 24 minutes at Ashbourne where our enemy (sleep) had its grip on the navigator, causing a marvelous feeling of indifference and subsequent faulty map reading. I was navigator/sleeper at the time.

 Road condition not including traffic stoppages accounted for 1 hour 2 minutes, all except one were in mountainous districts where the hills and bends sabotaged our efforts at keeping our average up. The other occasion was in the SW Peninsular where the road surface deteriorated, and the width was reduced, this combined with added tourist traffic lost us 2 minutes over 18 miles.

 Every place that we anticipated lo sing time for traffic congestion we did so, They were in built up areas and unless they are traveled through in the early hours they will always cause a reduction of time. Owing to our preference of reaching the mountains during the daylight, altering the times for these places is not possible.

 The only opportunities we had to gain time was on the mountains or during the driving time. As the mountains were very tightly scheduled and our times on them were not as was hoped our only chance to make up time was during the driving.  This we did to the extent of 11 hours 7 minutes, leaving 1 hour 10 minutes to complete the trip by driving over the schedule.

 For future attempts I would emphasise that the major problem is indifference to time wasting induced by tiredness from constant traveling and irregular sleep.

Hours Mins
Snowdon 1 15
Scafell Pike 6
Ben Nevis 1 41
Ben Hope 43
Ben MacDhui 1 44
Kinder Scout 30
Total 5 59


 With the exception of one, all the climbs were to be the same as the 1959 Expedition. The exception was High Wilihays in Cornwall, Yes Tor was last Year's target. Also we aimed at as far as possible the same climber climbing the same peak as he did last year.  Dave Sharp of course who was a newcomer to this trip and also to mountain and hill walking was to attempt Kinder Scout in Derbyshire.  In two cases the climb would be done by a pair of climbers i.e. Ben Hope and Kinder Scout. The other five would be attempted solo, firstly because of our restricted number and secondly because each climber knew "his" mountain well from previous attempts. In chronological order the story is as follows.

 Weather fine and Brian set off at the time scheduled. Allowance was 2.5 hours but he covered the ground well within this limit. High Willhays is used as an army firing range but enquiry to 0kehaimpton Police during the previous week had given us the okay to climb. Little to be seen from the top except the rolling Cornish Moorland. This point is the highest in the South West Peninsular although many other heights like Yes Tor come very near it.

SNOWDON Dave Sixsmith
 An early start this time and at 07.00 hours saw Dave make his way up the Pyg Track from the Pen-y-Pass Hotel. Not another climber or hiker did he meet as he made his way up passed the peak of Crib Coch to the saddle below the summit of Snowdon to finish via a short length of the mountain railway track. Signs of life in the hotel on the summit but too early for tourists yet. 2.5 hours allowed but this proved too conservative an estimate and Dave needed to return to the van.

 Determined to beat his own best time of 1 hour 55 minutes Ray set off up Longmill Gill, the best route from the Wastwater side. Although mid afternoon the sun was exceedingly warm and the self imposed pace became slower. At the top of Longmill Gill looking over to Green Gable and Great Gable prior to the climb proper on Scafell Pike Ray left his spare clothing in an attempt to move faster. No time to admire the scenery at the top but down again via the same route, collecting his gear on the way. However he was unable to beat his own best, 2 hours 4. minutes had elapsed since his start;.

BEN NEVIS Dave Sixsmith
 With a so called recovery from Snowdon Dave set off on the long grind that Ben Nevis entails. The path zig zags and with this being the highest mountain in Great Britain, and at these latitudes he was soon crossing large patches of snow. Again a deserted climb but he did see evidence of the surveying camps for the proposed cable car to the summit.

BEN HOPE Brian Hood & Ray Dallas
 Our failure last year, but this time we started from the correct spot although to an initial mistake we nearly didn't again. Picking an exact spot on a deserted road is not so easy. The beginning of the climb is the most difficult and as this is not a popular mountain there are no footpaths, actual or on the map. Using compass and following the flow of mountain streams in the reverse direction we quickly gained height to a spot where we were soon able to look due south as far as the cairngorm Mountains. Reaching the main road one finds on a high plateau sloping up towards the north like a huge wedge pointing into the Atlantic. At the apex surrounded practically on all sides by drops of 2,000 ft of precipitous rock is the summit and Trig. point. By now the mist was descending and a bitter wind was coming off the sea not so many miles away. The summit with its inscription crudely carved "Scotland for the Scottish" was not therefore a very inviting place and we quickly descended being careful to go far enough south before turning west and descended to the road. Time taken 3 and 3 quarter hours.

BEN MACDHUI Dave Sixsmith
 The climb where we used a bicycle!! Dave set off pedaling to Derry Lodge a distance of four miles where he left the bike and set off to ascend Ben MacDhui, the highest mountain in the Cairngorn by the direct route. Thick mist and more snow on the top so sometime was spent finding the actual summit. Five hours later Dave came pedaling furiously back along the Derry Lodge Road.

KINDER SCOUT Dave Sharp and Ray Dallas
 Owing to delays en route and being two hours down on schedule it was 21:30 hours when we arrived at the Snake Inn with only an hour left of daylight. Ray and Dave set off in a great hurry, carrying in addition to normal equipment a rubber torch and a Pifco signal lantern. It was essential to get along the lower path parallel to the "Edge" to a point where the rock face ends before dark. They just made it and as darkness finally came down they were just reaching the Edge of Kinder Scout Plateau with the sheer rock face to their left To find the 2,046' Trig. point is difficult enough in daylight so careful compass bearings were taken from the signal lantern which they left high up on a rock. Walking as it was backwards, continually taking compass bearings they came across the trig. Point first try. After a short rest, bearings were again taken to the "Edge" where we had left the lantern burning. Down to the lower path and back to the Snake Inn was accomplished without difficulty.

With all seven peaks accomplished we considered that side of the Expedition a 100% success. We were the first to succeed in all seven attempts in the time and it is very interesting to note that our time for the famous three peaks, Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis was ? hours including all stops etc. This is indeed a good effort even though different climbers attempted each peak and the record for these three mountains was not meant to be attacked by this Expedition.


 The problem of equipment of all types was a lot easier than previous expeditions because of two main factors a reduction in the members to four and no camping involved.

 Lessons learnt on the training trips and much discussion among all members of the Crew, led us to this Expedition's equipment which is listed in full later on. The two main considerations for me was providing sleeping and cooking facilities and these were met as follows.

 The routine as explained elsewhere was for two members to be asleep while the other two drove and navigated. We decided to leave the side facing seats installed in the Ford Estate Van and upon these we constructed a rigid wooden platform six feet long and stretching the side of the van from seat back to seat back. Upon this we laid two rubber air beds. On the training trip we tried one air bed and one "Safari" canvas bed but rejected the latter in favor of air beds for the trip proper. Between the two air beds was screwed a cage holding six vacuum flasks and soft drinks easily reached by the driver and navigator and also by these on the beds. Behind the navigator's seat and at the foot of one bed was positioned the portable radio. The four sleeping bags rested on the air beds each member of the expedition sleeping in his own when it was his turn to rest.

 Between the beds and the rear doors was another framework upon which rested the galley. This was designed specially for this expedition and incorporated all the ideas gained in previous trips such as this.
 3'6" long by a proximately 18" wide and 18 high it consisted of four main compartments, one each for food, cooking utensils, with cutlery box, paraffin stoves together with spare fuel and a final compartment for washing bowl and other sundry items. This was lined throughout with laminated plastic for easy cleaning and the front hinged down to provide a meal preparation surface. The top was also hinged so access could be gained from inside the van while moving. Cooking was done at the rear of the vehicle while we were stopped for climbs.

 Under the seats was stowed more food in cardboard cartoons, two gallons of water, climbing boots, personal gear in four army type large packs, the mechanics tools in three boxes and the "emergency box". In this was kept the torches, spare batteries, first aid kit, compasses etc. etc. Maps and navigation impede were kept in the dashboard pocket and two other pockets alongside the side doors.

 The van came from Fords equipped with a very large alloy and wood roof rack upon which we stowed 4 gallons reserve petrol, paraffin, petrol funnel and spare engine oil in one box. An additional spare wheel and the bicycle.

 One item of equipment was not taken because the source of supply did not materialise at the last minute that was the fire extinguisher. This omission must be strongly condemned and further expedition must ensure they are so equipped.

 Another item not taken owing this time to haste in packing, was the entrenching tool, more inconvenience than anything, we could not bury our rubbish and finished up by carrying unburnable material on to garages who provided a dustbin.

 A tent and spare air beds were taken in case of failure and/or a long delay which might have meant camping. Of course these were not required but are a wise precaution.

 In conclusion I would like to mention the "Pifco" lanterns we carried one had a red flashing dome and a white beam. This was indispensable when we had our only mechanical stoppage at 3 o'clock in the morning in a very narrow country lane. Placing the lantern in the middle of the road fifty yards behind prevented us being run down while effecting repairs. The other had a white continuous illuminated dome and white side beam which was used to great effect on Kinder Scout which was climbed in darkness.

 All equipment stood up to the wear and tear except the switch on the navigation lamp but this was replaced and no further trouble was experienced.

FOOD by R,D.

 Due to the continuous activity of the expedition lasting 96-100 hours all pretext of keeping regular meal times and, eating usual meals had to be abandoned from the start. The plan was to have a hot meal consisting of soup, meat vegetable etc. at every climb, that is at intervals of 12-13 hours and coffee, sandwiches prepared at each climb and fresh fruit available at any time while driving.  Between two of the climbs the interval was much longer that 12/13 hours so we stopped at a transport cafe on these two occasions, time consuming but necessary.

 The climber was meant to finish his climb and then have his meal but in practice he usually refused it upon his return and came to life an hour or so afterwards and replenished his inner man on the coffee and sandwiches etc. The climber took chocolate and Kendle Mint Cake with him on the climb.

 On the training trip various types of filling for sandwiches were tried, including meat but the overwhelming preference was Jam!! Consequently jam Sandwiches were the order of the day for the trip proper.

 The Mechanic's report is, of necessity, quite short. The vehicle behaved. extremely well throughout the trip and the only work necessary on it was routine servicing.

 The map light switch broke and was replaced during a coffee stop between Bonar Bridge 'and Dingwall.

 During the last night at about 03.00 hours the petrol tank ran dry and after filling up from the reserve tanks the driver pressed the starter button whilst the engine was still turning and jammed the starter motor The Mechanic was rudely awakened to release it.

 The fuel consumption was 102 gallons over 2,240 miles, giving 22 m.p.g. which considering the terrain and the rate of progress is quite good. It is also commendable that less than 2 pints of oil were used throughout the trip.


 Our objective with regard to the photographic aspect of this years expedition was simply to provide a satisfactory record of our trip. It would not be possible within the short period of time we had in mind for the completion of our tour (96 hours) to provide anything other than the briefest of cinematic accounts. It would not permit the detailed features of last years journey when long day and night stops enabled the photographer to spend much more time over the composition of his subjects, checking exposures, and, most of all the use of a large number of sequences taken from a static position, it is these shots which give the eyes some sight from the rocking movement of pictures taken from a moving vehicle. This year there were few stops except those for mountain climbs. With our reduced manpower this year shorter periods of time were necessarily available for filming.

 A major disadvantage this time was the fact that much of the photogenic scenery was passed through during the hours of darkness. This unfortunately was the case with much of Wales, Loch Lomond etc. all of which are of great photographic interest. The route in Scotland this year was much more direct in its approach to Ben Hope, it did however lack the wild, attractive, beauty which had such a distinctive feature of last years film. The sequence shot on Ben Hope itself is lacking in detail and is also rather short. The lack of detail was due to the fact in common with many other mountains of this size, it was subject to mist clouding out the sunlight, from Tongue, and towards to John O'groats filming was not possible due to bad weather and lighting conditions, Rain blotted out much of the landscape. Invornesshire was traversed during the night though a few brief scenes were taken at the end of the track to Derry Lodge, those being shot whilst the climber was up Ben MacDhui. No filming was possible of our next and last climb, Kinder Scout, since it was ascended at 12 midnight!!

 The film in its present un-edited state is about 500 feet long which would give it a short time of about 41 minutes This is compared with 54 minutes last year. It will of course be greatly reduced by the time of its final premiere. It is hoped once again this year to make a soundtrack with the appropriate background music Editing has been very much helped this year by the acquisition of an editor/viewer which is a great improvement over last years "squinting session" with a magnifying glass. Another great assent this year is the use of a new and much improved system of splicing the film. The basis of the new process which is imported from the U.S.A.. is an extremely thin plastic called "Mylar" which the film is joined together in much the same way as selo tape. It is quicker simpler and gives far lees noticeable joints than the conventional method of welding the film with acetate.

 Whilst the film will probably not comply with the tiptop standards of Mr. J. A. Rank it will at least give some impression of the enjoyment and interest which we had in making our record trip.