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Leader Magazine
SUMMER 1963.
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The Greek countryside over which the journey was made.
by J/CSM MORTON, 'C' Company
Earlier this year I had the privilege of taking part in an expedition, led by Sir John Hunt, to the Pindus range of mountains in Greece. The members of the expedition were selected from holders of the Gold Award in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, Two selection weekends were held at Yardley Gobin and Capel Curig, and eventually J/Sgt McGurk and myself were told that we had been selected.
Now we had been selected we had to get fit and collect together the right clothing. Compared with most civilian boys we were fairly fit. The clothing needed however was the usual mountaineering dress, with a good pair of boots, a sleeping bag and a carrying pack. We also took some clothes to wear in the transport going out and coming back, and clothes for special occasions.
The Expedition had three main aims: to traverse the Pindus Range of mountains which run from South West to North West Greece: to bridge the gap between the older and younger age groups, by living and walking together and finally to study the weather, rocks, soil, flora and fauna of the region.
We began our journey to Greece on Saturday, 23rd March. We left Devonshire Street, the Headquarters of the N.A.Y.C., at 6.30 in the morning. The whole journey out to Greece was to take eight days. We left England by Dover. From here we travelled through France passing through well known places like Boulogne, Cambrai, St. Quentin, Reims and many other places. It took us two days to travel through France and then we came to Switzerland which is a very beautiful country. We only stayed there for about half a day and then left for Italy. It took five days to travel through Italy and we passed through Milan and many beautiful fishing ports on the Adriatic Coast. Italy was the last country before Greece. After landing in Greece we made our way to Delphi, which was the point from where we were going to start walking. Delphi itself is a very interesting place. It has a stadium where the Pythian Games were held and also the Temple of Apollo. It was here we also met the Greek members of our party. They were six commando soldiers and members of the Greek Alpine Club, who later gave us dinner.
Our stay in Delphi was short and in the evening were split into parties. There were three parties, Sir John in charge the of one, John Disley leading the second party and George Lowe the third. There was later to be a fourth party led by John Disley and John Jackson. David McGurk was in party two and I was in party three. That evening we sorted the kit and food out and the following morning we made our final check.
We were taken by truck to a point seven miles from Delphi and then we started walking. This stage of the journey took four days. The country we crossed was very much the same the whole way, very hilly with deep river valleys. The weather was rather bad with rain and snow. On the last day of this first stage, one of the boys, Bob, of the second group fell ill. This meant now we would have to make a detour to the nearest road. We walked for about two hours carrying Bob on a stretcher to the road. Here we stopped a truck and asked the driver if he would take Bob to Karpenesion. This place was our first big stopping place and the end of the first stage. We were now six miles away from here and we had to walk it with wet feet along a hard road. By the time we got there a great number of us had blisters.
The next day was a rest day and we had a walk around Karpenesion. Here Sir John made new plans, as the first stage had proved harder than was expected. The decision was that the people with blisters would go North and begin the third stage to give the blisters a chance to heal, while the others would go on and do the second stage. In the end however it would mean that everyone would do the same distance.
I myself happened to be in the fourth group and we went up North the next day. Our start point up North was Metsovon. On the way we saw the lovely monasteries high up on pinnacles of rock, and in the olden days the only way to reach them was to be hauled up in a basket.
We arrived in Metsoven, and on the morning 10th April we started on the last stage of our journey. This took eight days to complete and during this time we spent our Easter in a village whose Greek name meant Nut Village. The villager were very kind and gave us Easter eggs and a great number of nuts on Easter day. The time came for us to leave however for Kastoria - our final destination - and after four more days of walking we arrived. The first thing we did was to get a bath and put on clean clothes. We then went and met the other boys who had come up from the South after finishing the second stage. The next day we had time to get presents and have a good look around the place.
The following day was Friday, 19th April. It was a sad day as we were to say goodbye to our Greek friends and leaving Greece. We made our way to the Jugoslavian border. On the journey back we were on the road for seven days. We took two days to travel through Jugoslavia and very sadly we had an accident on the second day when an Austin Gypsy, in which three members of the party were travelling turned over. After this Sir John Hunt stayed in Jugoslavia to look after the three injured people.
The rest of the party returned to London via Germany and Belgium, to the end of our expedition. We returned home with memories of some hard travelling and much friendliness within our party and from the Greek people we met.





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