Mountain legend Morris is Fort festival’s pick for major annual award

Dave Morris, pictured, is the 13th recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture. Photograph: Dave MacLeod. NO F08 Dave Morris Photo by Dave MacLeod-13
Dave Morris, pictured, is the 13th recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture. Photograph: Dave MacLeod. NO F08 Dave Morris Photo by Dave MacLeod-13

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Events which promote public enjoyment of the outdoors and raise awareness of climate change and biodiversity challenges are vital, according to this year’s winner of a prestigious award presented by Fort William Mountain Festival.

Dave Morris made the comments to the Lochaber Times this week after being named the 13th recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.

Sponsored by Jahama Highland Estates, the award sees Mr Morris join the list of previous esteemed winners including Colin Prior, Andy Nisbet, Dr Adam Watson, Jimmy Marshall, Myrtle Simpson, Ian Sykes and Dr Hamish MacInnes.

Mr Morris has devoted most of his life to protecting and promoting access to the wild landscapes of Scotland.

From the Lurchers Gully enquiry in the 1980s to masterminding the campaign for access in Scotland prior to the publication of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, he has been a leading environmental campaigner.

Without his painstaking work over many years, the country would not enjoy the world leading access legislation so many take benefit from today.

As a director of Ramblers Scotland for many years, he made great use of the media to convince politicians, landowners and the public that our wild landscapes offers tremendous benefits.

On his retirement from this post in 2014, well-known outdoor writer Cameron McNeish, winner of Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture 2018, described Mr Morris as the ‘closest thing we have to a John Muir figure…a wild-country champion who could lift up the eyes of an uncaring public and show them that in wildness lies the hope of the world’.

Jahama Highland Estates’ Chief Operating Officer Julia Stoddart commented: ‘We are delighted once again to show our support for the festival by sponsoring the Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture and congratulate this year’s winner Dave Morris, an outstanding recipient.

‘A tireless campaigner for public access rights and for the environment, Dave is a seminal figure in the Scottish outdoor access world and it is right his dedication and commitment are recognised through the award.

‘Jahama Highland Estates is an inspiring landscape that attracts access-takers of all kinds and we fully support the right to responsible access as enshrined in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which owes so much to Dave’s work.’

Mr  Morris also represented the interests of Scotland on a world stage as president of the Mountain Protection Commission of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation for eight years.

He is a lifelong climber, skier and hillwalker and has been an incredible source of inspiration in the last few years having battled throat cancer.

Now breathing through a small hole in his throat, Mr Morris has defiantly managed to climb to 20,000ft in the Himalayas, ski mountaineer in Alaska and climb alpine rock routes in Norway.

Mr Morris, who lives near Kinross but also has a family home in Newtonmore, said he was delighted to accept the award, especially as it comes from one of the most prestigious outdoor activity film festivals in the world.

He told the Lochaber Times:’ ‘This award also reflects the enormous contribution many other people have made, in governments, voluntary organisations and the private sector, as well as my family, as we have worked on issues of concern. None of this would have been possible without some broad shoulders to stand on and I am grateful for such steadfast support over many years.

‘There is still much to do, as intense pressures on the earth’s environment increase. I look forward to helping the Fort William Mountain Festival on this arduous but rewarding journey.

‘And I thank Jahama Highland Estates for its continuing sponsorship of this award and Dave MacLeod for his skill and perseverance in producing an excellent film to accompany my award.’

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Dave Morris is the 13th recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture. Photograph: Dave MacLeod.

NO F08 Dave Morris Photo by Dave MacLeod-13