Beetham returned to Barnard Castle as a master at his old School; a post to which he had been appointed in 1914, to teach Natural History.
His approach to teaching was formal – there was little in the way of field trips – with notes and diagrams being de rigeur, and occasionally there was practical work on the carcase of a badger or the dissection of a sheep’s eye. Some pupils responded to this approach well, some were not so captivated.
Although he devoted himself to School life he still found time for mountaineering expeditions to various parts of the world. These took him to the Tatra mountains of Czechoslovakia, the Drakensburg in Natal, Spitzbergen, the Lofoten Islands and Chile, where he was made an Honorary Member of the Club Andino do Chile, but the mountains he made his own, and came to know better than any other mountaineer of his time, were the Haut Atlas in Morocco. Beetham made five expeditions to Morocco between 1926 and 1934, plus reconnaissances. His last visit was in 1956 when he was 70 years of age.
Part of his contribution to School life was to introduce boys to climbing which was made easier in 1936 when the Headmaster was able to lease a hut in Borrowdale in the Lake District which came to be known fondly as ‘The Hut’. A School climbing club was formed in 1929 which later was named the Goldsborough Club. During the Second World War, ‘The Hut’ became a convenient base for the exploration of the Borrowdale Crags which had hitherto been neglected largely because the hardened climbers were of the opinion that the climbs were not so challenging as those to be found on the central fells. Beetham, often with members of the Goldsborough Club, pioneered new climbs, some of which were more challenging than thought by the critics. He wrote a guide to Borrowdale in the series of Guides published by the Fell and Rock Climbing Club in 1953.
School was Beetham’s focus, for it was here that he found companionship and the stimulus of working with young people. He became York Housemaster and later Second Master. He continued to take a part in School sporting activities such as squash, fives, tennis, skating and skiing. On his retirement in 1949 he moved into a cottage in Cotherstone in Teesdale, as near as he could be to his beloved fells, but by 1959 an old injury to his ankle brought his climbing days to an end. His last year was spent in a nursing home having suffered a stroke and there he died in 1963 aged seventy-six.
It is hoped that a biography of Bentley Beetham written by Michael D. Lowes will be published during 2008