Still hit­ting the heights

Club founder’s love of climb­ing

East Kilbride News - - OUR PEOPLE - Mark Pirie

“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

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