The Achille Ratti Climbing Club was formed in 1942 by Founder President Bishop Thomas Bernard Pearson and other mountaineering enthusiasts from the Blackpool Catholic Boys’ Association, with the club originally being called the Catholic Boys Association Climbing Club. At the suggestion of founder member Arnold Lunn the name of the Club was changed to “The Achille Ratti Climbing Club” – this having the connection with the late Pope Pius X1 who himself was a skilled and keen climber.
The Club opened its first hut in June 1942 – a building behind the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, which was provided by Mr. Cyril Bulman of the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. This became known as the Langdale Hut and Mr Bulman became the clubs’ first honorary member.
With the hut established in the Langdale Valley it wasn’t long before Wasdale attracted the attention of Club members. The secretary of the club, Father Atkinson of Ambleside, headed over to Wasdale and met with Mr Gass at Ghyll farm. As a result of this meeting Buckbarrow was offered to the club for a fee of £52 a year.
The clubs next acquisition was Raise Cottage – an old Isolation Hospital towards the top of Dunmail Raise. The club paid £799 for the building which, with the additional money required for the renovation, required a loan of £1000 from the Lancaster Diocese.
In 1951 Cyril Bulman repossessed the hut at the New Dungeon Ghyll so that it could be converted into a retirement flat for him and his wife. The club went for a few years without a hut in the Langdale valley and things weren’t looking so good by 1955 when the club had only 60 members and very limited funds.
It was in the summer of 1955 that Cyril Bulman gave Bishop Pearson the opportunity to buy the barn of Rawhead farm and 110 acres of fellside all for the bargain price of £2000. At the time the club had an income of approximately £60 a year so £2000 for what was basically an empty shell was a big ask. Bishop Pearson immediately realised the value of such a purchase to the club and set about raising funds and obtaining loans to allow the purchase to go ahead. The hut was fitted out for temporary use and a lot of work followed before the official opening of Bishop’s Scale took place two years later in August 1957.
From there the club grew in strength attracting many new members, most of whom were climbers. In 1963 that the possibility of buying a hut in North Wales was first considered and after a few years searching Tyn Twr was found in 1966. Options of buying a Scottish hut were considered not long after but they were found not to be financially viable and such a hut never materialised.
In 1990 the lease on Buckbarrow was terminated by The National Trust and the club was forced to move out of the Wasdale Valley. The Club was given the option of leasing Beckstones, a property in the Duddon Valley, as an alternative. Beckstones was taken on as a replacement for Buckbarrow.
In 2013 the Club was given the opportunity to move back into the Wasdale Valley when we were offered first refusal on Little Ground House by Honorary Member Margaret Gass. The decision was then made to sell Dunmail and to buy Little Ground House. Little Ground house underwent an extensive refurbishment and the hut was opened in 2015. At around the same time the Club ended its rental agreement on Beckstones, leaving ARCC as the proud owner of three huts – Bishop’s Scale, Tyn Twr and Little Ground House. We are pleased to see that our Dunmail Hut has been transformed into a luxury bed and breakfast (Raise Cottage) by its current owner.