Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 95

Wednesday 4th April 1984

After inspection and breakfast we went in for assembly, then we set off for a walk up to Carlton Bank. We arrived at the top in a record time of 1.45 hours, and after eating our packed lunches Slackie did a moon! Then we had a play fight in the heather.

Then we stopped at a giant pond, and after another load of walking we stopped at some rocks the same as the Wainstones but different. After a climb we set off again and came to a waterfall. Behind it was a pot hole and after exploring that we all dived in the water fully clothed.

Then we came back to the centre and had a shower and cleaned our boots. Then we had a pukey tea and after a table tennis match we had tuck shop. Then we watched some of a film called the Gentle Giant, and after supper we watched the end. Then we went to bed.

And the alternative version…

Wednesday 4th April 1984

After getting five marks for inspection (Nark on reds) we grabbed our bags of muck (in other words, packed lunches) and set off for pin point on top of Carlton bank. We reached it in record time (one hour forty five minutes) and after guzzling our garbage from our backpacks Slackie ran to the top and did a moon for all to see! When the laughter had died down we set off again and mugged Mr Hirst in the heather.

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Then we arrived at a giant pond full of bacteria, creepy crawlies and by the time we’d been around it, hiking boots. It was called Brian’s pond and was about a foot deep. Huggy’s foot, that is, he sank like a stone. After another load of walking we came to some rocks the same as the Wainstones but different.

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They were called Barker’s crags and me and Sug went wild on them, hiding in caves and yogging rocks down. But, sadly, we bade farewell to the rocks and headed North, South, East or West to a waterfall (I’ve no sense of direction). 

The Waterfall was in (believe it or not) Snotterdale plantation and behind it was a pot hole. However to our dismay it was dark and it is a scientific fact that you can’t see in the dark, se we came out in the open again and passed the time by jumping into the pond.

small-wed-3

Probably the same twisted **** that pushed me in a few days past pushed Gazzie in and he was soaked from head to foot. Pity he didn’t go in as gracefully as I did. We got back wet but happy and cleaned our boots etc till after Tuck Shop, then watched some of a film called the Gentle Giant.

small-wed-4

After supper of a cardboard biscuit and chocolate drink we then watched the end and a few Seaton girls started to cry. We boys of course remained tough and went to sleep with the sound of a Sedgefield lingering in the air.

Wow, a proper ‘Nark On’! I didn’t think kids ever actually talked like that! Second cousin to the more common ‘Cheesy Wah’ and distantly related to the lesser-spotted ‘Chinny Reck-On’ (usually accompanied by a goading stroke of the lower chin), this was a textbook 1980s taunt to those who had failed to match our exacting standards at football, British Bulldogs or – indeed – bed-making, as in this example.

We’d got more points at inspection then the Red dormitory had, so ‘Nark on, Reds’ indeed. And have a Chinny Reck-On while you’re at it (strokes lower chin…) 

Anyway, a long, long day but one filled with fun! Carlton Bank is a terrifyingly steep incline sweeping upwards from the village, riddled with old slate mines and culminating in the little stone marker that we called ‘pin point’. A 1 hour 45 minute yomp from our dormitories to the top sounds like bloody good going to me, especially considering my current state of fitness…

Back in 1984, Mr Hirst was so elated at breaking the World Carlton Bank Climbing Record that he somewhat rashly told us to ‘celebrate however you see fit’ once we’d got there.

He probably wasn’t expecting the mighty Slackie to bare his backside to the sweeping moorland winds, and – to be fair – neither were the party of elderly hikers that were somewhat taken aback by this sudden addition to the rugged, Yorkshire scenery. There’s probably still a lawsuit or two rumbling around the county courts somewhere.

Gazzie Jones and me didn’t try to emulate it on our re-enactment, we were too knackered…

Some sensational nose action in that film!  

Good to see that Mr Hirst was rewarded for his diligence defending our honour to the elderly hikers by being ‘mugged’ in the heather… yep, a bona fide ‘pile on’ started by Stephen Mason with a world-class rugby tackle, and soon added to as Gazzie, Sug, Slackie, Stan, Tucker, Doug and I (and at least another dozen snotty-nosed oiks) jumped on top of the poor bloke’s man-sized orange cagoul, pinning him to the ground.

I think this was probably the end of his lingering ambition to play first class football for Brighton & Hove Albion. Well, as close to first class as they ever get, anyway.

Brian’s Pond is half an hour’s walk across the open moorland from the top of Carlton Bank. I had no idea where it was, and I hadn’t been there at all since April 4th 1984, but thankfully Jonesy had his Ordnance Survey map with him. At one point we really didn’t think we were going to find it, but then out of the black heather suddenly emerged…

THIS!

(NB As you can tell, it was rather windy up on the moors. Sorry Mr Jones… at least you and Brian’s Pond are nice to look at!)

I have to confess, this is the first of the revisits that brought back no memories for me whatsoever… to be fair, we probably stopped there for fifteen minutes 25 years ago, but sadly there was no giddy rush of nostalgia brought back by this perfectly pleasant little watering hole. Still no idea who Brian was, either. Or – indeed – how I came to the 1984 conclusion that it was full of ‘bacteria’.

At least on this occasion I managed to sit next to a small body of water for a few minutes without falling headfirst into the bloody thing.

Barker’s Crags I do remember, though, and again – I hadn’t been to this lovely rocky moorland ridge for exactly 25 years. Here’s the revisit…

And now… heartbreak. Awww.

The visit to the ‘waterfall’ that I mention is one of my fondest, nicest, happiest childhood memories. It came out of nowhere… a twinkling, glistening oasis of cascading spring water in the middle of remote rocky moorland and rustling trees. It burbled over the top of a smiling stone face and cascaded into a beautiful, crystal clear pool into which – in the middle of a long, sticky, exhausting walk – we were all permitted to throw ourselves. 

So we did. Forty grotty 11-year-olds threw off their cagouls and dived into this glorious enclave of loveliness – splashing, diving, rolling around… and laughing and laughing and laughing. It was FABULOUS, one of those glorious times in your life when ALL of your friends are there, you’re all having a fantastic time, and there’s absolutely nothing whatsoever to intrude on the sheer, breakneck fun of it all. 

And before you start thinking that I’ve exaggerated all of this in my fevered, sentimental mind, I actually have the pictures to prove it…

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That’s Huggy, looking as cool as ever…

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Gazzie Jones himself, making the most of his impromptu bath…

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Ian ‘Pond’s Eye’ Macdonald, finally justifying his inexplicable nickname!

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And Slackie, striking a pose. I love this picture because in the background you can clearly see Doug trying to clamber out of the water, and Huggy desperately trying to drag him back in for another terrible soaking…

There was a pot hole behind the waterfall itself, a long, pitch-black tunnel that descended into darkness. And yes, forty stupid eleven-year-olds were allowed to wander into it to fall over rocks and ‘see what we can find’. Health and Safety, to coin a phrase, would have had a bloody field day…

Anyway, the heartbreak. I’d never been back to the waterfull since that glorious day, and I was so excited at going looking for it with Gaz Jones, who was sure he knew were it was. The splendidly-named Snotterdale Plantation is clearly marked on the maps, and so are the springs of water that cascade downhill through it, so we were certain it wouldn’t be too tricky to find.

But…

…we couldn’t. Find it, that is. Last week, we tramped for hours around the trees and moorland surrounding Barker’s Crags, following each trickle of springwater as far as we could, but there was no sign of the damned thing.  

Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe it’s a place that only appears when you’re eleven years old, and refuses to give up its secrets to clumsy thirtysomethings clumping around the woods. And probably rightly so. Whatever the case, it looks like this unique and glorious childhood memory is destined to stay just that – a memory – forever. I won’t complain.  

Just a pity such a perfect day had to be rounded off with us being subjected to The Gentle Giant. You’ve seen it, you know you have… Dennis Weaver, Clint Howard, and a giant but cuddly-wuddly Grizzly Bear called Ben. It was so successful it spawned ‘Gentle Ben’, the TV spin-off that was still being trotted out on Children’s BBC long into the late 1980s…

He was nice, but he was no Poggy Doggy…

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3 Comments»

  Gaz Jones wrote @

I’ve decided, I must find that waterfall! I can see more trips to Barkers Craggs being taken in the near future.

  bobfischer wrote @

I’m game if you are… just pick a Sunday!

(Let’s see if we can get Mr Hirst to come with us!)

[…] Doug (on the left) and me, at Pin Point, right on the top of Carlton Bank. You can actually see a film of myself and Gareth ‘Gazzie’ Jones revisiting this location if you check out this diary entry. […]


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