Dave Butterfield

Dave Butterfield (1959-2017)

A long term member of the RHB community, Dave died far too young in early November 2017, following a protracted illness.

Dave was born in Leeds but moved to Sheffield when he was seven. This started a lifetime's addiction to Sheffield Wednesday - another illness for which there is no cure. He married Rowan in 2004 and they have a daughter, Emma Rose. Although not in any Halls of Fame, he had a respectable bag of hills (532 Marilyns, 771 Humps, 1521 Tumps). He said that he had not kept good records of his early walks so had only started counting Marilyns from scratch at around the age of 40.

Chris Watson and Rob Woodall remember a stalwart of the RHB Community:

Chris Watson:

I met Dave on my first ever trip with the RHB gang, the infamous week on Barra organised by Rob Woodall in 2001. We shared a stroll around Mingulay, back in those days when the Bishop Isles were not done in an afternoon, and I found out how much he knew about birds. A couple of snipe took flight right under our feet and he named them instantly. Not surprising as he worked for the RSPB for many years. Gordon Adshead remembers Dave sharing a house with him and his Rucksack Club cronies that week and sent this photo of him on the boat home.

Dave turned up again the following year on Rob's trip to Harris for Scarp, Taransay and the Shiants. He pointed out my first sea eagle as I struggled up the slope of Scarp with very wet feet, having mistimed my leap from the RIB. The following day he found me some puffins to photograph on the Shiants.

We bumped into each other again the following year on a trip to Rona and the Crowlins. He was with his wife-to-be Rowan and I made my usual bad first impression by nearly poking her eye out with my sticks. They had the last laugh when I took a flier as I was dropped off on a slippy slipway on Scalpay, immortalised by Adshead again.

Rob Woodall:

My first clear memory of Dave is from a two week trip we did to Orkney and Shetland in 2002 for the Marilyns and Yeamans there (this was before Humps were invented). I was a bit more of a birder then, but never in the same league as Dave - although we were both caught out by a strange scratchy bird call on Hoy which, disappointingly, turned out to be a skua chick. He was less of a cyclist though, finding the out and back for Hoy's southernmost Yeaman to be pretty hard work. Also memorable was a failed attempt to hunt down clootie dumplings which, he claimed, would be pretty ubiquitous in those parts.

The last trip with Dave I can recall was in September 2003, with Rowan, looking for sea eagle pellets on Gruinard Island. This was a decade after it was pronounced anthrax free but it still seemed a bit of an adventure. However, since then, he has continued to be my go-to man for all matters birding, particularly in relation to constraints around sea stack bagging. He was also a regular contributor to the Tump Forum with a particular interest in the Far North as can be seen from the Hill-Bagging League Tables - he was Arctica. He enjoyed posting photos of difficult looking sea stacks and swapping speculations on the feasibility of getting up them.

I was pleased I managed to get up to see him in May, 2017. His cancer was not responding well to treatment but he remained optimistic and had been managing to climb some local Tumps.