Roger Smith pays tribute to pioneering writer and outdoor campaigner Rennie McOwan.

The writer, broadcaster and environmental campaigner Rennie McOwan died on 2 October, aged 85. As a journalist on The Scotsman newspaper in 1957, Rennie founded the Scotsman Mountaineering Club (now the Ptarmigan MC). He was one of the founders in 1982 of the Scottish Wild Land Group, and later helped set up Friends of the Ochils. He was also a former president of Ramblers Scotland.

His campaigning work was outstanding, and in a tribute to him, former TGO editor Cameron McNeish said: “In terms of campaigning for a freedom to roam and land reform, Rennie McOwan was a giant. He will be remembered as an excellent journalist, mountaineer, historian, environmental campaigner and a true son of Scotland.”

Fellow campaigner Dave Morris said: “Rennie was a huge influence on me as we made the case in the 1990s for access legislation. He provided advice, encouragement and information on a regular basis. His passing is a big loss to Scotland.”

Rennie spent part of his working life contributing to the Catholic press, and was editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer while still in his twenties. He also wrote fiction for children, his best-known book being Light on Dumyat, set in his ‘home hills’, the Ochils.

Rennie won several awards during his long career, including the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild’s Golden Eagle Award for his contribution to Scottish culture and access debates, the Provost of Stirling’s Civic Award for arts and culture and the FX Tourism Award for exceptional service to the tourism industry. He held an honorary doctorate from the University of Stirling.

Rennie will be greatly missed and our sincere condolences go to his wife Agnes and their family.

Roger Smith