Hamish Brown is set to receive a special award at this year’s Fort William Mountain Festival
Dr Hamish Brown MBE, the Scottish mountaineer, lecturer, photographer, writer, poet and international mountain guide is set to join the Fort William Mountain Festival Hall of Fame as the 10th recipient of The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.
Nominated by the public and his peers as a mountain hero who celebrates achievement, accomplishment and the spirit of adventure, Hamish joins previous esteemed winners such as Dr Adam Watson, Jimmy Marshall and Ian Sykes in the festival award’s 10th anniversary year.
Father of the Great Outdoors Challenge
At 82 Hamish Brown, one of the most accomplished British hillwalkers of the past 50 years, is perhaps best known as the man behind the creation of The Great Outdoors Challenge, a backpacking event held annually by this magazine. Having crossed Scotland coast-to-coast on foot himself, he felt that this was a trek that could be accomplished and enjoyed by others within the framework of an organised non-competitive event. He presented the idea to Roger Smith, founding editor of The Great Outdoors magazine in 1979 and in the following year the first event was held.
Hamish is also renowned for some of the huge journeys he has undertaken. In the 1970s he became the first person to walk all of the Munros in a single trip – only using the Isle of Mull and Isle of Skye ferries and a bicycle as transport. Hamish’s Mountain Walk (1978), his now legendary account of this epic 112 day journey in 1974, featuring 289 peaks and covering 1,639 miles, remains one of the best books on the Munros, oozing love of the landscape and curiosity about people.
“Hamish embodies the passion and the excitement that exploring the wild Scottish landscape entails, and the great desire to share this sense of adventurous wonder with others,” said Mile Pescod, Chairman of The Highland Mountain Culture Association. “Not only has Hamish explored Scotland and many other mountain areas right across the globe but he has helped countless others do the same and find the same sense of satisfaction. Hamish is a true exponent of mountain culture.”
His past works
Over several decades Brown has written beautifully on his love for the hills, writing or editing over 30 books and numerous articles for newspapers, guide books and outdoor magazines. He followed his 1974 Munros walk with the longest trip over the English, Irish and Welsh peaks, told in another best seller, Hamish’s Groats End Walk. Some of his more distant treks to Corsica, Norway, the Andes, Atlas and Himalayas were covered in his book The Great Walking Adventure.
As a successful poet Hamish Brown has edited two classic poetry books: Poems of the Scottish Hills and the huge Speak to the Hills, besides having volumes of his own poems, including Time Gentlemen; and short stories published.
Where his passion began
Born in Colombo in Sri Lanka on 13 August 1934, Hamish Brown lived in Japan for a time and then Singapore, escaping with his family in 1942 as it fell to the Japanese. He lived in South Africa for two years as a refugee before returning to live in Scotland at the end of World War II. His family lived in Dollar and Hamish, who was educated at Dollar Academy, spent much of his youth exploring the nearby Ochil Hills.
In 1997 Brown received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letter from the University of St Andrews for his contribution to mountain writing and poetry. In 2000 he was made an MBE for his educational work and a fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. In May 2007 he was awarded an honorary degree from the Open University as Doctor of the University.
The award will be presented to Hamish Brown during the Fort William Mountain Festival which runs in and around Fort William and Lochaber, from 15 to 19 February 2017. The 3rd Scottish Youth Ambassador for Mountain Culture will also receive their award at the same time. http://www.mountainfestival.co.uk/award.html
To find out more about the full Fort William Mountain Festival programme for 2017 go to: http://www.mountainfestival.co.uk/
Image credit: Dave MacLeod