David G Smith

David G. Smith (1930-2008)

David was born between the wars in Southampton, the son of the distinguished aircraft designer Joe Smith, a key developer of the Spitfire. Through his engineering apprenticeship at British Thomson-Houston (BTH) in Rugby, David formed life-long hill friendships. He was always a planner, contributor and doer. In the early days he organised many hill weekends using trains and cycles to get to the Berwyns, Arans and Cadair Idris. A motorbike extended the range to North Wales, the Rhinogs and the Lakes. His adventures led him to join the Midland Association of Mountaineers (MAM) in 1953, shortly before entering the RAF for National Service. He was commissioned and posted to RAF Edzell in Angus, as an assessor of crashed aircraft. He joined Edzell mountain rescue team and started climbing the Munros. Back at BTH in Coventry, he got involved with running the MAM as hut booking secretary (1957-60) and then secretary (1960-64), and he also worked for the British Mountaineering Council.

Judith and David met through the MAM in 1960, and she knew immediately what life would be like with him. Instead of dates at the pictures, it was 'shall we go for a walk?'. Their honeymoon was climbing Stac Pollaidh, which began a happy pattern of weekends at Glan Dena (the MAM hut near Llyn Ogwen), Easters at Fort William, and summer camps in the Alps with friends. Their three children all still enjoy the outdoors.

David took early retirement at 58 to spend more time in the hills and enjoying the area near Ilkley, his home with Judith for the last 35 years. The Dales Way became very important to him, from being a founder of the Dales Way Association in 1991 (to promote the 83-mile trail between Ilkley and Windermere), to running the Association for many years. Climbing the Marilyns also became important to him as a way of reaching new ground, something that he relished.

A modest man, secure in his achievements without shouting about them, it was Judith who told people that he'd climbed the Munros twice. He also solo backpacked the Pennine Way, Offa's Dyke, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, the Dales Way and many other long-distance routes. In Austria the locals called him the 'bergfuhrer' as he led parties of five up icy peaks. At 70 he cycled from Land's End to John o'Groats and trekked to the north and south faces of Kangchenjunga.

David climbed 940 Marilyns and attended the annual gatherings at Morar, Golspie, Ludlow and Weem. His first Marilyn was Sugar Loaf at the age of 15, with his father and sister on a day out from school. Judith took him on the last journey to rest on the beautiful Arnside Knott in 2008.

Jon Metcalf

Articles by David G Smith