Magnus - Chris' toughest companion on expeditions to the Himalaya

Magnus Ramsay, very much a typical Scot in terms of being reluctant to receive any awards as recognition of his contribution during two Chadwell & Ramsay plant exploration expeditions in the NW Himalaya in 1985 & 1989, declined my offer of presenting him with a Kohli Memorial Gold Medal.  Nevertheless, he was the toughest, strongest and most resilient of all companions/team members during my expeditions along the Himalaya - they don't make them like Magnus anymore!  His father had been an arm-wrestling champion for Dumfries - not someone to be messed with.... He wore breeches most of the year, with shorts appearing on 1st April - regardless of the temperature.  When dignitaries visited Threave, Magnus might put on a clean jumper but that was the most, as he was not the sort to 'tip his cap' to anyone and rightly so.


Magnus photographed in May 1985 at Threave School of Gardening, National Trust for Scotland near Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire - he maintained the ground next to 'Long Threave', the house which came with his job (it was disheartening to see how neglected it was and much of the grounds during a visit a few years back). At 6 foot 5 inches, his name fitted.  Of Shetland Island stock, he was the ideal travel companion in the mountains, who coped with the ups & downs of India admirably.  A rock & ice-climber and energetic hill-walker; my mother was delighted, as I had found more than a match in the hills.  The only problem was that he was not available every year, as he had to accumulate holiday leave from his full-time job as Deputy Principal of the Threave School of Gardening (a National Trust for Scotland Property near Dumfries), as the duration of Chadwell expeditions was beyond what a person with a proper job could be allocated. Magnus was serious-minded and hard-working, accustomed to long hours in the mountains, so an ideal travelling companion. After our 1985 expedition to Kashmir, he flew back to Heathrow, got a connecting overnight coach to Scotland (which dropped him at the bottom of the drive-way to Threave) in the early hours; he was back at work first thing that morning, having managed to doze on the coach...

Any of the gardening students who unwisely accepted the offer of a "day in the hills", soon discovered his exceptional walking capabilities and never agreed again!  He liked to average 20-30 miles (taking in all the 'tops' of course - the tops being 2-3000') and can warm up to even more!  He had a set speed, no matter what the terrain.  In India, he took everything in his stride - most people find their first visit to the Indian sub-continent, rather a shock.

Despite his size, he drove a mini, with his knees protruding above the steering wheel.  Here we are camped beside UIlswater in the Lake District; he was about to guide me up Striding Edge (the classic scramble up Helvellyn see: - this was June 1985 during an expedition preparation weekend.  The Lake District seemed a fair meeting point, since I lived near Heathrow, whilst he was in Southern Scotland and there are, of course, no mountains anywhere near Slough.