Environmental campaigner wins top mountain award

Dave Morris with Scottish Mountain award
Dave Morris receives Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture (Image credit: Dave MacLeod)

Scottish environmental campaigner Dave Morris has been announced as the 2021 recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.

The former director of Ramblers Scotland is the 13th recipient of the accolade, which is normally presented at the The Fort William Mountain Festival.

The award, sponsored by JAHAMA Highland Estates, is nominated by public and peers and recognises a mountain hero who celebrates achievement, accomplishment and the spirit of adventure.

Dave joins previous esteemed winners including Colin Prior, Andy Nisbet, Dr Adam Watson, Jimmy Marshall, Myrtle Simpson, Ian Sykes, Cameron McNeish and Dr Hamish MacInnes in the Excellence in Mountain Culture Hall of Fame.

Dave said: "I am delighted to accept this award, especially as it comes from one of the most prestigious outdoor activity film festivals in the world. 

"At a time when environmental issues are centre stage for everyone, from individual citizens to politicians, it is really important that festivals like this are promoting public enjoyment of the outdoors and raising awareness of climate change and biodiversity challenges.

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

"There is still much to do, as pressures on the earth’s environment are intense and increasing all the time. I look forward to helping the Fort William Mountain Festival on this arduous but rewarding journey. And I thank JAHAMA Highland Estates for their continuing sponsorship of this award and also Dave MacLeod for his skill and perseverance in producing an excellent film to accompany my award." 

Dave Morris wins mountain accolade

Dave Morris has been a lifelong environmental campaigner (Image credit: Dave MacLeod)

Lifelong environmental campaigner

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

From the Lurcher's 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  figurehead environmental campaigner.  

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

On his retirement from this post at Ramblers Scotland in 2014, well-known outdoor writer Cameron McNeish [winner of award in 2018] described Dave 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”.

Dave also represented the interests of Scotland on a world stage as the President of the Mountain Protection Commission of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) for eight years.

He is a lifelong climber, skier and hillwalker.  He has also been praised for further inspiration in recent years having battled with a Laryngectomy operation, due to throat cancer. Now breathing through a small hole in his throat, Dave has managed to climb to 20,000ft in the Himalayas, ski mountains in Alaska and climb alpine rock routes in Norway.

Congratulations to Dave Morris

Julia Stoddart, JAHAMA Highland Estates’ Chief Operating Officer, said: “We are delighted once again to show our support for the Fort William Mountain 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 that his dedication and commitment are recognised through the award.”

This year’s Fort William Mountain Festival takes place online from February 19 to 25. 

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.