Classic RCJ article: The Scottish Four-thousands by Philip Brockbank and Frank Williamson [1955]

Philip Brockbank joined the Club in 1931, after his student days in the infant MUMC. It was said that few could go as fast or as far as Philip, and he was renowned for his innovation and meticulous planning of long walks, particularly in his native Pennines, which included the Marsden-Edale (single and double), The Four Inns, Colne- Rowsley (once solo), Moffat-Peebles, and Tan Hill-Cat & Fiddle. In 1954 he masterminded the first continuous Scottish Four-thousands, which this Classic Article recounts. Many walks were repeated several times, and by 1965 he had been up Kinder 706 times! He was responsible for the 14 issues of the Journal from 1947-60, more than any of our other Editors, and wrote 19 articles for it over a period of nearly 50 years.

Frank Williamson joined the Club in 1947 and, like many then, was a member of the YMCA. Apparently, he could often be found in the lounge there on a Friday evening, planning some preposterous walk, many of which were Sunday Peak District marathons made possible by the then rail network. It was as a long-distance walker that he is be best remembered including the first successful traverse of the Scottish 4000’s. As you will read he completed this alone, an outstanding achievement given that he had never set foot on the Cairngorm range before and the majority of this section was completed on the third night.

Read on, enjoy, and marvel at the determination, skill and physical prowess of earlier members as well as refences to such equipment as boot with nails. “On the descent to the upper Glen Nevis we were soon halted by a hard ground frost concealed by the grass and had difficulty in even ‘kicking-in’ with nails”…not quite the same as a modern fell running shoe! It is also interesting to see how, at this time, photographs unrelated to the article appear in its pages. The Scottish Four-thousands classic article can be found here.

One comment

  1. This is the classic RC walk that inspired both Alan Heaton, and then me, to make separate record attempts on the Scottish 4,000ers in 1980 respectively. We both went from East to West, and refined the Brockbank/ Williamson route considerably, by taking a straighter line between upper Glen Feshie to Dalwhinnie. Both of us were successful, in my case achieving the first sub-24 hour traverse on 20 July 1980. I even made it into the Guinness Book of Records (1982 edition). My friend Martin Stone then went one better, by reducing the total time in 1986. And finally Stephen Pyke has held the current record of 20 hours 23 minutes since 2007. It is worth noting that Mike Cudahy did the trip in Winter conditions using a bike in March 1997. Happy days! See

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