By Bernadette Rimmer Duncan (UK) : In 1980 a group of British Army Soldiers stationed in Germany got together for an adventure training exercise, called “Ex Llama Backstop” to trek around the Annapurna range and sanctuary. The aim of the exercise was “to initiate a team of young officers and soldiers into adventurous training outside Europe, in an environment alien to that which they would normally be expected to serve. To develop a sense of leadership and group responsibility whilst undergoing sustained physical effort over a protracted period”. There was also an opportunity to visit ex Ghurkha soldiers in Nepal. Trekking team in 1980s are:
- Cpt Val Batchelo
- Capt Penny Hicks
- LT Simon Green
- 2Lt Lindsay Bownass
- Sgt Paul Crook
- Sgt Honor Jaeger
- Sgt Maureen Pomeroy
- Sgt Ken Hanger
- Cpl Bernadette Rimmer Duncan
- Cpl Steve Wardle
- Lcpl Dave James
- Sig Benny Bywater
They got trekking permit to do trekking in Annapurna from 14th April – 08 May 1980 for Annapurna Circuit & Annapurna Sanctuary (ABC) trekking in Nepal for 25 days Start from Kathmandu to Bimal Nagar by bus and the first camp was Changli and end at Pokhara from Lumle. They had the most memorable time in Nepal and with full of unforgettable memory all group has been returned to home (UK) 11th May 1980. After this they always talk with friends and family about Nepal.
Due to the work they cannot return to Nepal immediately and after long time Mrs. Bernadette R. Duncan, Mrs. Honor Jaeger & Mrs. Jill Hayward has been return to Nepal in Feb 2020 and visited Kathmandu, Chitwan, Pokhara & Mardi Himal High camp. In 2020 “Annapurna Adventure” book published by Bernadette Duncan in based on her own diary and memories which helps to Promote Nepal in UK & rest of the world.
After return home, Mrs. Bernie sent trekking map which she used during her first trekking time at 1980s to Mr. Jeevan Raj Sapkota (Director of Aroma Nepal Treks & Expedition Pvt. Ltd) along with her published book “Annapurna Adventure”. Now you can see that trekking map (1980s) at International Mountain Museum Pokhara and also you can read that book in library of International Mountain Museum Pokhara which has been handover by Jeevan to Museum committee.
What Bernadette want to say: –
We have visited Nepal again in Feb 2020 & our main reason for visiting was to see if Nepal had changed very much since our trek in 1980 and to try and re-visit a few places. We found many things very similar and were happy to have time to visit the old city and temples around Kathmandu before we flew to Pokhara. We found Pokhara – a beautiful city. It felt very peaceful, clean and fresh & wonderful Himalayas view is just in mirror distance. The hotel was beautiful and relaxing, with very happy, friendly and efficient staff. We walked to the lake and recalled our time in 1980 when we had camped by the lake at the end of our long trek. We were amazed and so happy to see the dawn at Sarangkot with Jeevan and also to have the helicopter trip to visit the Mardi High Camp – a fantastic experience! We worked out later that we had been stood just above where we had trekked in 1980. Amazing!
Our next journey was to the Chitwan National Park. It was completely different again but very enjoyable and we loved the jeep tour and jungle walk to see the Rhinos and other animals. No tigers but we loved every moment and again the hotel staff were friendly and very knowledgeable.
Overall we were treated as VIPs by everyone we met in Nepal. The hotel staff, Guides and drivers were all very knowledgeable and polite. We tasted Nepalese food in every region and enjoyed meeting all the friendly local people. We hope that we will be able to return one day but meanwhile we have our photographs and memories.
I will thoroughly recommend anyone to visit Nepal & contact to Jeevan (Aroma Nepal Treks), especially Pokhara and take a trek up to the mountains if they are able to. It is an experience that everyone should have whilst they are young enough to trek!