Still hitting the heights
Club founder’s love of climbing
“When I saw a hill I wanted to climb it,”says 90-year-old East Kilbride Mountaineering Club founder Dick Bell.
It has been a lifelong love for Dick, from The Murray, after starting to take on treks when he was in the Scouts as a 14-year-old.
But his amateur excursions began even before that.
After he was evacuated at 11 during the Second World War, he arrived in Blair Drummond and went to school in Callander.
He immediately wanted to show he could walk the walk around the Crags.
“We made up sandwiches and a flask and I kept looking up at the Crags,” he said.
“I would stay up there and miss school – but that stopped after my sister found out!”
Dick would go camping around the country and admits it was much tougher going in those days as a youngster than it is now in the mountaineering club.
“You had no transport but I’d walk to the A80 in Balloch and there was a lorry that would take you to the top of the hills in Arrochar,” he reflected.
“One of the lads I walked with had his head screwed on. We would all be charged a shilling to be taken to the top and back again.
“The first time I was in the caves staying over in Arrochar, we got our sleeping bags out and lit a fire.
“The next thing we know there are rats coming down so I said ‘to hell with this’ and left!”
His love of scaling summits has been life-changing for Dick as it was in Inverbeg while hill-climbing that he saw his future wife Agnes for the first time.
He said he “took a fancy to her” but was enlisted in the Navy at the time. He would write her letters and arranged to meet in Glasgow after the war.
Dick had been “jumping from one boat to another” in Australia, before he met her in 1946 and began working on submarines and was able to go back to the Scottish barracks.
They met at the corner of Argyle Street and Union Street – and have been together ever since.
“I was wondering what she looked like,” he said, recalling waiting on the street.
He laughed: “Then she told me she walked around and had a good look at me before she came round!”
Dick had the chance to go back to Australia as part of an “interrupted apprenticeship”.
However, he decided to follow his heart and stay in Scotland with Agnes and start a family.
“We got married in 1950 and just before new year that will be us 67 years,” he says.
The couple have two grown-up children and Dick says: “We’re still doing alright. We still keep busy.”
Not long after they married they moved to East Kilbride where Dick took a job as an engineer at RollsRoyce.
He saw a notice for the mountaineering club, became a founding member and has seen countless beauty spots across Scotland.
Dick still goes on the monthly walks, seldom missing any of the routes.
Climbing passion Dick Bell