Janice Mudge, Dave Judd and John Watson, three accomplished hill people, died recently. None were hugely well-known beyond their circles of family and friends, but each loved the outdoors just as much as those famous walkers and climbers whose passing inevitably receives wider coverage. Angela Mudge, Mike Dales and Bob Aitken recall them.
My sister Janice was born in Plymouth and spent her formative years in Tavistock. Weekends and holidays were spent walking the hills of Dartmoor, where she completed the Ten Tors and several Long Distance Walkers Association events. She also spent a lot of time participating in various sports, competing at county level at cross-country and 400 metres. She studied chemistry and physics at Leicester Polytechnic, graduating with first-class honours in 1992.
In 1993 Janice took up a post with Strathclyde Council as a chemist in Cumnock. (She ended up working for Scottish Water Solutions as an environmental advisor.) It didn't take her long to catch the "Munro bug". Numerous weekends were spent heading north with her faithful companion Rowan, a Jack Russell terrier, who as a pup and then as an old woman couldn't keep up with her owner's blistering pace and was often to be found tucked up inside Janice's rucksack with her head sticking out. On one trip to the Cuillin we had three wee terriers and Janice nearly had a nervous breakdown worrying about which one would jump off the edge first!
Janice motored ahead and completed her Munros within four years of moving north. Her final hill was the In Pinn. This hadn't been the intention, but it was delayed until the end as she didn't know anyone who could lead the way. Finally a friend said he would, then bottled out on the big day, so two random men attempting the climb let her tag along.
The Corbetts followed, and Janice finished on Ainshval in September 2002. This she did alone, sneaking off one weekend when her friends were racing abroad. She wasn't interested in a second round of Munros, and thought it best to revisit the areas she loved. Ben Lomond, only 20 miles from her home in Gartmore, was probably climbed in triple figures.
Mountains were climbed in rain, wind or snow. We spent several miserable nights in a tent or up a hill. She was one of the few people I know who wanted to camp in the middle of winter, and we had some gorgeous but freezing starlit nights.
Janice was extremely supportive of the antics of Carnethy Hill Running Club and was often to be seen at races cheering us on or helping out. Even last February, when she was very ill, she was in a freezing field in the Pentlands handing out cups of tea to muddy runners at the Carnethy Five Hills race. Watching hill races frequently left her with a dilemma. After the final runners had passed, did she walk slowly behind, or did she just walk past them?
She was the fittest hillwalker in Scotland, and very long days, walking fast over the hills, were the norm. We climbed the Fisherfield Six as a club outing. On the way back, several club members jogging home became a bit annoyed when Janice overtook them walking. She competed in a few mountain marathons each year and left most of my running mates for dead. In 2000 she won the Lowe Alpine A-class outright with Andrew Spenceley, not bad for someone unable to do any specific running training due to a twisted hip. I never understood why she raced mountain marathons, as each time she would spend a fortune on osteopath bills to get her back ready for the next outing. She duly moved up to the elite class and was unbeaten in the mixed category.
Janice was a solitary individual but enjoyed company on the hill when it was available. She was determined to get the most out of life, and many hills were climbed alone because she wouldn't hang around for a day trip when there was a weekend to be had. If waiting for friends to drive to a meeting-point in Callander for a day's walking, she would take the dogs up Ben Venue or Ben Ledi as an early morning warm-up.
She started training with the Lomond mountain rescue team in August 2003, but promotion to full membership in December 2004 came shortly after diagnosis of her illness. The team has described her as "a highly committed and resolute rescuer, keen and willing to learn new skills, ready to tackle any activity no matter how physically demanding. Her illness didn't diminish her enthusiasm and willingness to contribute to team activities, and she regularly turned out for fundraising events. Her ready smile and good nature will be greatly missed."
As an event coordinator for the WaterAid Munro Challenge in 2003 and 2005, Janice was responsible for raising the profile of the event and recruiting glen managers. She gave advice on routes and assessed the difficulty, then decided if the skills of the team matched the demands of the hill.
Janice was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 2004. She did not let the illness prevent her from enjoying either her love of the hills or dog-walking expeditions (at least two hours daily). During chemotherapy she was very determined to carry on with life as usual. She still climbed Munros and worked right through the treatment until July 2006. The only compromise was that we could no longer rough-camp and had to be near facilities. She was very unselfish, and on days where she was feeling below par she would head down early and pick up her friends at the end of the ridge.
The last hill she climbed was Ben Venue in April 2006. Once she began her second-line treatment even she had to give up the vertical challenge of the Munros. She is survived by her parents, two sisters and her dogs Rowan and Arkle.
Dave Judd was born in Chingford, but was destined to explore the wild places of Scotland, deriving great pleasure from introducing young people to the activities he loved so dearly. Many would have known Dave through his years in outdoor education; others will remember him as a hillwalking friend who always had a list of hills large and wee that he had his eyes on.
When he was a teenager his family moved to Reading, where he became involved in scouting, an activity that triggered his love of the outdoors. He was the first boy in Berkshire to attain the Queen's Scout Award and the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award. On graduating from Reading University with honours in geography, he became a management trainee - but the indoor-working environment was not his place in the world. He started as a tutor at the YMCA's Coleg-Y-Fro in Wales, working with mining trainees and also joining the Snowdon mountain rescue team.
Like so many outdoors enthusiasts, Dave was inevitably drawn to Scotland. He made the move north in March 1974 and worked in various outdoor centres. It was at the Boys' Brigade centre at Dalguise near Dunkeld where he made his mark. From 1977-1987 he ran the centre with minimal resources while maintaining a calmness that belied the difficulties. The papers on his desk often sat alongside wrenches and plumbing tools, such was his sleeves-rolled-up attitude to running a fragile old building - but it was in his management of staff where Dave excelled. An ability to get the best out of people came naturally to him, and the Dalguise family he created remains close to this day.
He was married twice, and it was to his second wife during the early years at Dalguise that the children were born. They had a wonderful upbringing, having the run of the centre and its grounds.
When the BB sold Dalguise in 1987 he ran the Glengonnar Centre in Abington, then became manager of the Rua Fiola Island Centre running survival experiences on uninhabited west coast islands. He then moved to Fife as a part-time tutor for Stevenson College, where he taught hillcraft, worked with special needs groups and ran residential courses for Prince's Trust volunteers.
Supposedly semi-retired by now, he was still involved in lecturing at Elmwood College in Cupar, as well as running management courses for local companies and working as an external verifier for the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
Getting out on the hill was always a priority, and he completed the Munros on Sgurr nan Gillean, 24 May 1997. He also enjoyed a good backpacking trip, and over each of the last three years he completed the TGO Challenge. His love of the outdoors included a strong passion for protecting wild places and strengthening public rights of access. In his final months he became an active member of the Fife local access forum.
At Fife Sea Kayak Club he met Heather and they spent ten years skiing, kayaking, birdwatching, hillwalking and cycling in various corners of the world, but mostly in Scotland and its islands. Right up to his last month he was working with young people, helping Heather to train pupils from Madras College in St Andrews where she teaches.
My own connection with Dave dates from 1984 when I began an 18-month spell at Dalguise. Within days of starting, he had fired my enthusiasm for getting out on the hills and I used my first day off to bag my first Munro, Schiehallion. We shared a memorable weekend on Skye in the summer of 1985, but our best joint hill moment came in 1991 when I was making an east-west traverse of the Mullardoch hills. The only person I met just happened to be Dave, going west-east. We sat down and chatted for half an hour before continuing on our ways.
The last time I saw him was in November last year, at a Local Access Forum training day in Stirling. He stayed behind at the end and, just as on the Mullardoch ridge, we took time out and put the world to rights.
Dave died suddenly while out hillwalking with friends on Christmas Eve. His final hill was one of the wee ones he had saved for a good day: Beinn Odhar in Glen Artney. He suffered a heart attack with blue skies above and a cloud inversion below. He will be sorely missed by his children Karen and Robert, his mother Kath, brother Alan, grandson Cameron and his partner Heather.
The passing of John Watson of Dundee at the age of 92 takes away another veteran enthusiast. With his wife Kathleen, who died in 2003, John was a stalwart of the Grampian Club (GC) and an early completer of Munros (Aonach air Chrith, 1 July 1960) and Corbetts (Beinn a'Chuallaich, 29 October 1977). He epitomised the climber whose undemonstrative assembling of huge hill experience was based on a very long close association with a single club. In varying ways John and Kathleen - the two almost inseparable in memory as they were in life - represent a generation that is now passing, both in their personal lifestyle and in their approach to the hills.
Born in Calcutta, John was brought back to Dundee as a toddler. He lived all his days in the same house in Clepington Road in the town, and practised as an accountant in the same firm. Childhood holidays made him a devotee of the Angus glens and led him into membership of the GC in 1948. His commitment to the hills was probably deepened by arduous war experience. It might be said he took the full menu. With a Royal Army Service Corps unit attached to the 51st Highland Division, he was one of the few to get away from St Valéry in 1940. Thereafter he was with the reformed 51st from El Alamein to Italy, then through France to Germany.
John and Kathleen married in 1952. To external appearance theirs was a relationship marked by a profound but wholly unsentimental closeness and mutual support. They had no children, but it might be claimed that the GC was their family - bearing out one half of Jim Perrin's dictum that clubs can be divided into two broad categories, those that are like gangs and those that are like families. Both of them became club president; both fulfilled the traditional role as instructors and mentors to many young members.
The Watsons were the first married couple to finish the Corbetts together, and only the second couple (after the Hirsts in 1947) to complete their Munros together. They were quietly proud of their achievements, but quietly was the key word. For them their completions were probably just a systematic tidying-up (as befitted an efficient accountant and a rigorous academic scientist) within a huge range of eclectic and immensely enjoyable hill activity across Scotland. They were all-round mountaineers in the Scottish tradition of being safe movers over rough country in all conditions. In the 1950s they made several visits to the Swiss Alps, while from the 1970s the Arctic became a favourite haunt. John earned a reputation as a formidably efficient organiser. Into their 80s he and Kathleen were still walking the hills, often from their cherished cottage at Insh - less bijou second home than cheerfully welcoming bothy.
I first met them in the early 1970s at a Mountaineering Council of Scotland AGM at Bridge of Orchy. They made a distinctive couple: John tall, rangy, genial, Kathleen short, slight and sparky. Even then John was quite deaf, but he could still contribute to conversation and draw on his vast breadth of hill knowledge. As time went on it became increasingly difficult for him to engage actively, but if he was frustrated by his disability he rarely showed it.
As an accountant, John was subjected to the usual barrage of requests to act as unpaid treasurer for a multitude of organisations. As a conscientious and committed hill man, he accepted an unusual number of them. He was involved with the Association of Scottish Climbing Clubs, the Mountain Bothies Association, the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland, the Scottish Arctic Club and his local church. The Watsons were early members of the John Muir Trust, while Kathleen served for more than a decade as secretary of the Scottish Countryside Activities Council. I have reason to believe they gave generous financial support to conservation causes; but, as might be expected, it was given anonymously.
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