ENVIRONMENT: Campaigner, Dave Morris, wins top mountain award

Mountaineer Dave Morris is 13th recipient of the Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture

Picture by Dave MacLeod

ORGANISERS of The Fort William Mountain Festival are pleased to announce that Scottish environmental campaigner, Dave Morris, is the 13th recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, sponsored by JAHAMA Highland Estates.

Nominated by the public and his peers as 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, and Dr Hamish MacInnes in the Excellence in Mountain Culture Hall of Fame.

Dave Morris has devoted most of his life to protecting and promoting access to the wild landscapes of Scotland. From the Lurchers Gully enquiry in the 1980’s to masterminding the whole campaign for access in Scotland prior to the publication of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, he has been a stalwart figurehead environmental campaigner.

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

As a director of Ramblers Scotland for many years, he made great use of the media to persuade politicians, landowners and the general public to see the enormous benefit our wild landscapes give us.

On his retirement from this post in 2014, well-known outdoor writer Cameron McNeish (winner of Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture 2018) described Dave Morris 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”.

JAHAMA Highland Estates’ chief operating officer, Julia Stoddart, said: “We are delighted once again to show our support for the 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.

“JAHAMA Highland Estates is an inspiring landscape that attracts access-takers of all kinds, and we fully support the right to responsible access as enshrined in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC), which owes so much to Dave’s work.

“The benefits of SOAC to the public have never been clearer than during the pandemic. Outdoor exercise has taken a central role in many people’s wellbeing during the past year, and JAHAMA continues to work with local stakeholders to ensure that recreation forms a key part of ‘building back better’ from Covid-19.”

Dave Morris 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 lifelong climber, skier and hillwalker. He has been an incredible source of inspiration in the last few years having battled with a Laryngectomy operation, due to throat cancer. Now breathing through a small hole in his throat, Dave has defiantly managed to climb to 20,000ft in the Himalayas, ski mountaineer in Alaska and climb alpine rock routes in Norway.

Meanwhile, the new online programme for The Fort William Mountain Festival 2021 has been announced.

A superb collection of adventure films covering 12 different themes, each set comprising four to five uplifting, exhilarating and educational films from around the world.

As a direct result of the current Covid-19 restrictions, organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival have today, Sunday 14 February 2021, announced a fully digital programme for the 17th edition of the world-renowned festival.

Undeterred by the Covid-19 pandemic the organising committee of enthusiastic volunteers will present a stunning line-up of inspirational films; impressive action and adventure, educational and environmental, all organised from the bustling Highland town of Fort William, the beating heart of the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’.

All films in the mixed programme can be viewed online from Friday 19 February 2021, for up to 30 days.

Tickets and festival passes will go on sale on the festival website at 00.00hrs 19 February until 24.00hrs 25 February 2021.

The action-packed programme encompasses a series of world-class outdoor adventure films split into 12 individual categories, each comprising a mix of four to five adrenaline-fuelled and thought-provoking films.

They have been specially=selected from both the festival’s international film competition entries and the hugely popular Banff Centre Mountain Festival World Tour; together with films produced for the festival’s very own annual Scottish Awards for Excellence in Mountain Culture, that celebrate a range of outstanding achievements, and some thought-provoking films with an environmental focus.

The categories include climbing, snowsports, biking, family, environment and a festival mystery selection.

Festival programme – https://mountainfestival.co.uk/tickets/events/

Festival showreel 2021 – https://vimeo.com/ondemand/fwmf/

Of course, the Fort William Mountain Festival is not just for high adrenaline adventure enthusiasts, aspiring explorers, and weekend warriors. It is for everyone who appreciates the value, richness and diversity of the great outdoors.

Rod Pashley, chair of The Highland Mountain Culture Association, organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival, said: “It has been a very challenging year for all concerned and we are very fortunate to live in an area of outstanding natural beauty that provides the opportunity to breathe in the wonderful fresh air, exercise and relax.

“It, therefore, comes as no surprise that celebrating the wild landscape that surrounds us in Fort William and Lochaber is the inspiration behind the mountain festival.

“The mountains, glens, rivers and coastline influence our culture in many ways, whether it is the beauty of the landscape, our engagement with it or the opportunities we find in it. This year, more than ever, we understand the power of the outdoors for our own health and well-being; the therapeutic nature of a short stroll in the outdoors or indeed a quiet outdoor place to sit and reflect; to re-energise. The Fort William Mountain Festival 2021 on-line event has something for everyone with a love for the outdoors.”

The 17th edition of the Fort William Mountain Festival is sponsored by Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports, Patagonia, JAHAMA Highland Estates, The University of the Highlands and Islands West Highland College, Lochaber Chamber of Commerce and the John Muir Trust.

The festival also values our many friends and supporters behind the scenes including Nevis Landscape Partnership, OCUK, the Highland Council, the Highland Cinema, Abacus Mountain Guides, Rare Breed Productions, the Highland Bookshop, Lamont Design and many more.

The 12 film categories at the six-day Fort William Mountain Festival 2021 include:

International Film Competition Award films

2021 has seen a record number of entrants to our International Film Competition and picking the winners has been not been easy. This is your opportunity to see the four winning films in one binge-worthy selection.

The categories for the International Film Competition are:

BEST SHORT FILM – any film less than 15 minutes long.

BEST MOUNTAIN SPORTS FILM – Films featuring any mountain sport including climbing; snow sports; kayaking; mountain biking; base jumping; paragliding etc.

BEST EXPLORATION AND ADVENTURE FILM – Films that depict adventure or exploration and can feature any outdoor pursuit such as cycling the length of a country or kayaking across an ocean.

JOHN MUIR TRUST WILD PLACES FILM PRIZE – Any film that pertains to our wild places and shows the meaningful impact that spending time in wild places can have on individuals or groups of people.

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

Once again, we are delighted to bring the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour to Fort William!

Some of the best adventure and mountain culture films of the last year. This selection of films is always a sell-out and we have limited tickets available for online viewing.

Festival Choice – a mystery selection

Not sure which selection to go for? Don’t worry because we have the Festival’s Choice! This stunning set of films should not be missed and there is something in there to satisfy all adventurous appetites.


Take to the skies with the Air Selection! BASE jumping, paragliding and high-lining between hot air balloons are just some of the breath-taking feats in store for you with this selection of incredible films.


Get the wheels rolling with the Biking Selection! But it’s not all biking. As well as the ultimate endurance bike race and long-distance bike packing, we also have some high-speed longboarding thrown in for good measure!


The Climbing Selection brings you up close and personal with some of the most incredible climbing feats of the year. Whether you climb or not, it is impossible not to be amazed by the physical and mental strength of these men and women. Although, it’s not all about pulling on the tiniest of holds on an impossibly steep roof. This selection of films is bound to leave you pondering your next adventure.


The Environmental selection brings you a collection of this year’s finest films exploring environmental issues faced around the world, broaching subjects such as glacier recession, deer management and climate change.


Get the little ones inspired with the Family Selection! In keeping with previous years, the Family selection is packed with films that are sure to motivate the smaller members of the family keen for adventures, leading the adults out the door.


When it’s damp out it is time to run, and the Running selection will bring you a great set of films showcasing the highest levels of perseverance, grit and determination. From Wales to Tajikistan and back to the Lakes, you can run anywhere, and all you need is a pair of trainers and a sense of adventure.


It’s the Skiing selection! And that can only mean one thing. Get ready for the finest selection of powder-shredding, line-sending and awe-inspiring ski films of the year. These films will leave you psyched for powder days and ready to hit the slopes at the next opportunity.


From paddling high altitude rivers in Tajikistan to swimming the lakes of the Lake District, Watersports selection brings you an enthralling and gripping evening of some of the best watersports adventures of recent times. We’ll visit little paddled rivers in far-flung corners of the world and also bring it back to the UK where it is easy to find challenge and adventure close to home.

Patagonia Film Selection

A number of specially selected films for us from Patagonia one of our key sponsors

The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture and The Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture

These prestigious awards recognise and celebrate lives spent in the hills, exploring everything the land has to offer whilst inspiring others along the way. The 2021 winners will be announced in February.

To find out more about the Fort William Mountain Festival 2021 and to buy tickets, go to https://mountainfestival.co.uk.

Leave a Reply