The cairn of caring: English mountaineers to show their respect for Scotland

Posted by Carey Davies on 22/07/2014
Everest - climbed by English Doug Scott and Scottish Dougal Haston

Two landmark English mountaineers including the joint first Briton to climb Everest are going to join an effort to show their respect for Scotland – by helping to build a cairn.

In 1975 Englishman Doug Scott became the joint first Briton to climb Everest, reaching the summit of the mountain by its previously unclimbed south west face. Topping out alongside him was Dougal Haston, a Scotsman.

Nearly fourty years later, Doug is taking part in a project designed to highlight the power of Anglo – Scottish unity as the country decides how to vote in September’s independence referendum.

On 28 July he will join adventurer Ranulph Fiennes and Alan Hinkes, the first Briton to climb the world's 14 8,000 metre-plus peaks, to help build the ‘Auld Acquaintance’ cairn in Gretna. 

The trio will be joined by volunteers and members of the public from both sides of the border who support Scotland staying in the union as part of a symbolic ‘Hands Across the Border’ project, coordinated by Conservative Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart.

A spokesperson for the group said: “Everyone of any age or nationality is invited to join them working on the structure. Sir Ranulph will be bringing his stone from Exmoor. There will also be stone from around the United Kingdom on site for volunteers without stone.

“Volunteers will be gathering from two in the afternoon. All the climbers and explorers will be making a brief speech shortly after 4pm and would be delighted to chat to any volunteers on site.

He added: “Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ father was killed commanding the Scots Greys during the Second World War. Sir Ranulph Fiennes himself served in the Scots Greys, before joining the SAS. The experience of serving alongside Scottish soldiers has left him with a deep respect and affection for Scotland and its place in the United Kingdom.”

The project to build the cairn started on 20 July and will continue through August and to the referendum on September 18.

Describing the project’s aims, the Hands Across the Border website says: “We want to show how much we respect and care for the different nations of the United Kingdom. We will show this by constructing something which we hope will be a lasting symbol of our relationship.”

Rory Stewart attracted headlines earlier this year when he called for a mass hand-holding across Hadrian's Wall to "show the love that exists between the four nations of the union." The plans appear to have been scrapped.



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Anonymous User
23/07/2014
The plans were not so much "scrapped" as simply "changed" to a better idea...more people involved, permanence. A successful project thus far with its laying of the first stones on Sunday.
Anonymous User
23/07/2014
The mass hand holding was converted into building a cairn, the underlying principal is still there, so it hasn't really been scrapped just reborn
Anonymous User
24/07/2014
Edmond Hillary considered himself to be British and stated so when he first achieved his accomplishment. What is meant by 'first Briton' in the article is 'first person born in the UK'. Edmond Hillary's family originally originated in Yorkshire before moving to New Zealand. To say that New Zealander's are 'not British' when their families often come from Scotland and England and Wales and Ireland in combination is a moot point. Normally New Zealanders merely classify themselves as 'Europeans', those whose ancestors were from Britain and that is why a lot of heritage is denied statistically via the census.
Anonymous User
24/07/2014
I see that you are becoming a participant in the campaign to deny my country its right to self-government by publicising this Conservative Party propaganda stunt - and one which not only seeks to draw on the actions of those who, rightly, have no vote in my country's future but which is manifestly open to misrepresentation and manipulation. What business do you have to attempt to prevent my nation's self-determination? I note that your courses are underwritten by Sport Engl;and and the obvious question occurs as to what official channels have been used to gain your support for political propaganda. I have been an admirer of the ideals and endeavours of the mountaineering community all my life and I am shocked at this partisan intervention. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Carey Davies(author comment)
24/07/2014
This is an event in which prominent English mountaineers are participating, so it warrants coverage from our point of view, irrespective of the side of the argument they fall down on. If they were doing it to support independence we would still report it.
Anonymous User
25/07/2014
Very unfortunate and/or misguided that these guys chose to become involved in what is no more than a tory unionist political stunt.
Anonymous User
08/08/2014
Whilst it is unfortunate that politicians on either side of the spectrum are involved at all, the spirit of this event is relevant and important. The whole issue is much deeper than party politics and the consequences of the Scottish people's decision will endure as governments come and go. We are a union of tiny countries who have achieved many remarkable things together in many walks of life and whose families have intermarried for centuries. Many of us who don't get to vote are genuinely concerned and saddened that our futures might be less united and that has absolutely nothing to do with party politics.

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