Obituary: Donald Bennet, 84

Donald Bennet enjoyed Scotland's rich mountain heritage
Donald Bennet enjoyed Scotland's rich mountain heritage
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A SPECIALIST in nuclear engineering who also changed the face of Scottish mountain climbing has died aged 84.

Donald Bennet was born in London on November 6, 1928, but grew up in Edinburgh and attended Melville College.

He was a student of engineering at Heriot-Watt College when he discovered his passion for mountain climbing and quickly scaled a number of peaks around Scotland before making his first visit to the Alps in 1951.

Donald was called up for three years of National Service in the Royal Air Force in 1952, but even that did not dampen his ambition to conquer the peaks, making half a dozen ascents of mountains up to 21,000ft in Kulu and Lahoul during an RAF Mountaineering Association expedition.

After returning from the RAF, he took up a position at the Outward Bound School at Eskdale in the Lake District under the leadership of Himalayan mountaineer Eric Shipton.

It was there he met his wife Anne, with whom he set up home in Bearsden when he took up a post teaching engineering at Strathclyde University. The couple had two sons, John and Allan.

Donald joined the Scottish Mountaineering Club in the mid-1950s and served in a range of roles, including the post of honorary secretary, a demanding position he retained for 12 years. He was also one of the original organisers of the Mountaineering Council in Scotland, which came into being towards the end of the 1960s.

Donald published his first book in 1971, Elements of Nuclear Power, which soon became a standard text on the topic and went through three editions.

Also a keen and gifted photographer, Donald went on to publish a collection of his own photo essays, Scottish Mountain Climbs of 1980.

He served two terms on the Countryside Commission for Scotland and was also closely involved with the National Access Forum. After retiring from Strathclyde in 1987, he was a director of the Scottish Rights of Way Society between 1989-93 and was its chair until 2001.

He was credited with raising awareness of rights of way across the country, even planting many signposts himself. He also edited many mountaineering books and guides during his time as production manager of the Scottish Mountaineering Trust, a charitable organisation for which he helped raise hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Donald was awarded an OBE in 2001 and was also made honorary president of the Rights of Way Society. However, in June of that year he suffered a stroke. He was cared for by Anne for the rest of
his life and died in Glasgow on February 7.