A story based on a true event

By Jill Waterhouse

It was early November in 1987 and my late husband, Stan, and I were out in the Derbyshire Peak District having a few days away walking. We were staying in a hotel in Castleton and had gone walking on the gritstone edges around Calver for the day, doing a 16 mile round walk back to the car. It was a bright and sunny Sunday morning and there were runners, walkers and climbers out and about taking advantage of the good weather. Our car was parked next to a couple of minibuses from Sheffield University, which would be less than half an hour’s drive away, I would guess. They had brought the climbing club out so the ‘freshers’ could get a taste of what the area had to offer.

On our walk we saw a wide variety of wild life, including a buzzard and a kestrel, and we were both buzzing. At the halfway point, we sat and had a sandwich and some coffee from our trusty, if battered, thermo flask whilst watching youngsters flying kites behind us. Refreshed, we continued the walk and in the far distance could see ropes and small blobs moving about on them, clearly the climbers we had spotted when we set off. We continued along the path and the climbers came into clear view, spread out in small groups over a cliff, maybe 100m to 150m high. Some were at the top, others on the face, others awaiting their turn.

When we got to within 20 or 30m of the edge of the activity, I suggested to Stan that we have a quick cuppa and watch the students for a while. One girl with a very shrill voice was getting over excited. She had just completed her first solo climb and was clearly very happy, to the point of giddiness really. Her fiend was on the ascent and the first girl was getting carried away encouraging her friend to make the climb successfully. She then broke one of the cardinal rules of climbing. Without being roped up, she moved to the cliff edge and peered over to encourage her friend. We clearly heard the female instructor below screaming at her to get back away from the edge. The girl stumbled as a little bit of the edge came away under her feet, sending a small clatter of stones over the edge which then proceeded to fall on both her friend and the instructor, thankfully causing no damage.

The girl, frightened, hurriedly backed away from the edge and sat on a small boulder about 8m or so back. She held her head in her hands and was probably fearing the wrath of the instructor when they next came face to face.

A few moments later, a gloved hand appeared at the edge of the cliff, then a helmet and then the face of the girl’s friend, looking anything but pleased with herself. The climber shouted loudly at her friend that she could have killed herself or one of the group below and that the instructor, Zoe, was coming up to see her.

Moments later, another hand appeared and was quickly followed by the body and legs of the instructor, who clambered up and away from the edge with ominous speed. She stormed, if one can storm over such a short distance, towards the miscreant and gave her a real mouthful, using some words I hadn’t even heard before. Zoe didn’t care who heard as she wanted to make this point not just to her, but to all of the group and the wider public. It only takes one small rock to kill or seriously injure a fellow climber.

Then to my surprise, and Stan’s delight, Zoe pulled the young woman to her feet, sat herself on the warm rock she had just vacated and without warning or ceremony, hurled the unsuspecting across her lap, raising her right leg slightly to get the student’s bottom at just the correct angle. Zoe then landed the first 15 or 20 hard swats with her hand on the student’s bottom, and despite the thick jeans she was wearing, clearly the effect was both sudden and total. Howling with pain, surprise and total embarrassment, the student was soon crying uncontrollably as numerous pairs of eyes both from within the group, and other people like my husband and me, couldn’t turn our gaze away from the vigorous and well-deserved spanking taking place a few feet away from us. It seemed to go on for a long time, but realistically just a couple of minutes. Eventually, Zoe allowed the student to get up. She hopped and skipped from foot to foot rubbing her behind for all she was worth, but it seemed to be doing little or nothing to lessen the immediate effects of the spanking that she had just received so publicly.

Zoe, spanking concluded, stomped off to cool down and the student hugged her friend seeking both forgiveness and comfort following the event of the last 5 minutes or so.

My husband and I looked at each other and exchanged grins, neither of us quite able to believe the exhibition we had just witnessed, and wondered how to exit the situation as our path went straight through the group of climbers. In the end, we waited a couple of minutes and soon the whole group had gathered into smaller clusters, discussing what they had just seen. We giggled about it all the way back to the car.

The End

© Jill Waterhouse 2021