Irvine But­ter­field

The Herald - - Obituaries - AL­LAN LAING

Au­thor and con­ser­va­tion­ist; it is be­lieved to have in­spired many hill­walk­ers to hit the Munro-bag­ging trail. Sadly, a sec­ond vol­ume, ma­jor­ing on the Cor­betts (be­tween 2500ft and 3000ft), and which But­ter­field longed to see in print, never se­cured a pub­lisher.

Born in Farn­hill, near Skip­ton, But­ter­field’s hill­walk­ing ca­reer al­most ended be­fore it had be­gun. Aged 16 and out walk­ing with friends on the York­shire moors, a shot­gun trig­ger caught in a gate and he was shot in the foot.

He fully re­cov­ered from the ac­ci­dent and, af­ter work­ing briefly in the Post Of­fice, he joined the Cus­toms and Ex­cise ser­vice. Af­ter work­ing in Lon­don, he was posted in 1960 to Perth and then Dundee and In­ver­ness.

He dis­cov­ered the joy of the Scot­tish land­scape and, while based in Perth, climbed his first hill – the Cob­bler – and then his first Munro – Stob Di­amh on the Cru­achan ridge.

With like-minded friends, he formed the Crochal­lan moun­taineer­ing club. Thus be­gan a life of Munro - bag­ging. For the next decade he made it his mis­sion to climb ev­ery one of them, com­plet­ing the full 280-odd set in 1971with a climb to the top of Lad­har Bheinn on the Knoy­dart penin­sula.

His stocky build pre­vented him from be­com­ing a se­ri­ous moun­taineer and, in­stead, he found his plea­sures in walk­ing the hill­sides of Scot­land.

Blessed with a warm, if oc­ca­sion­ally gruff, per­son­al­ity, he had an in­stinc­tive ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Scot­land’s land­scape and a will­ing­ness to help and en­cour­age those who shared his pas­sion.

But­ter­field – whose mantra was: “Al­ways give some­thing back to the moun­tains” – achieved just that by cham­pi­oning the eco­log­i­cal cause, giv­ing up count­less hours of his free time to help pro­tect Scot­land’s wild lands.

The suc­cess of The High Moun­tains of Bri­tain and Ire­land pro­vided him with a launch-pad to cam­paign for the con­ser­va­tion of the Scot­tish wilder­ness.

He was ac­tively in­volved in many or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing the Moun­tain Both­iesAs­so­ci­a­tion (which led to the pub­li­ca­tion in 1972 of his first book, Dibidil: A He­bridean Ad­ven­ture, an ac­count of the ren­o­va­tion of both­ies on the is­land of Rum), the Scot­tish Wild Land Group, the Moun­taineer­ing Coun­cil of Scot­land, the Munro So­ci­ety and, of course, the John MuirTrust.

His was the fifth name on the Trust’s mem­ber­ship list when it was founded in 1983. He was one of its most highly ef­fec­tive fundrais­ers, do­nat­ing the roy­al­ties from his sec­ond­most pop­u­lar book,The Magic of the Mun­ros, to the char­ity’s pur­chase in 1999 of the east­ern side of Schiehal­lion.

When, last year, he was pre­sented with his Life­time Achieve­men­tAward (the three re­cip­i­ents who went be­fore him were writer and broad­caster Tom Weir, ecol­o­gist Dr Adam Wat­son and moun­taineer Doug Scott), the trust’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Nigel Hawkins said: “Irvine’s com­mit­ment has al­ways been un­der­pinned by his ex­traor­di­nar­ily detailed knowl­edge of our moun­tain coun­try and by his pro­found, un­der­stated and yet trans­par­ent pas­sion for its wild land­scapes and its his­tory.”

Irvine But­ter­field,who lived in a cot­tage at Pit­cairn­green, near Perth, is sur­vived by his part­ner, Moira Gille­spie, and his sis­ter, Irene.

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