Savile cottage demolition could destroy legacy of Scottish mountaineering


A TOP Scots climbing expert said Jimmy Savile’s former Glencoe home should not be demolished because the father of modern mountain rescue once lived there.

Climbing expert Cameron McNeish said the Allt Na Reigh cottage should instead be “a memorial” to Dr Hamish MacInnes.

Dr MacInnes is credited with inventing specialist equipment and writing safety manuals.

He was also the deputy leader to Sir Chris Bonington’s 1975 Everest expedition and the advisor and safety officer for Clint Eastwood in movie The Eiger Sanction in 1975.

Guru-hiker McNeish said the remote cottage played an important part in Scottish mountaineering history and should not be lost in the wake the Savile sex scandal.

But locals maintain they want the cottage removed – vandals have also taken to spray-painting “Jimmy the Beast” on its walls after it emerged he was sexually abusing children for more than 40 years.

Cameron McNeish – who has written guides on Scotland’s mountains for nearly 30 years – is hoping to meet with community leaders in the near future to discuss any chances of preserving the building.

He said: “The idea that you should just pull down anything that is tainted by Savile is a strange attitude – it’s almost like a Middle Ages thing, this hysteria that breaks out when something like this happens.

“It is important to mountaineers like myself because of the connections with Hamish MacInnes.

“Some say it should be a museum, or become a memorial to Hamish MacInnes.

“It would make a fantastic mountaineering club hut or even a house for a ranger.

“My big fear is it will fall into disuse, will become dilapidated and become a target for vandals.”



Legendary mountaineer MacInnes, now 82, developed revolutionary mountain-rescue gear at the remote cottage.

He owned the home during the 1960s and 70s and is known for scaling the world’s most dangerous peaks.

According to McNeish, Dr MacInnes was credited with inventing now standard equipment in an adjoining workshop to Allt Na Reigh such as the internationally used MacInnes Stretcher and specialist ice axes.

Born in Dumfries and Galloway in 1930 and known as the Fox of Glencoe in reference to his cunning as a mountaineer, MacInnes is recognised widely as the father of modern mountain rescue in Scotland.

He also founded the Search and Rescue Dog Association, the Scottish Avalanche Information Service and MacInnes wrote the International Mountain Rescue Hand Book, first published in 1972 – still considered the standard manual around the world.

A report by the Metropolitan police and children’s protection group the NSPCC says that five offences are now known to have been committed in Scotland.

Police confirmed one victim was abused in the Highlands but the offence was not committed at the Glencoe cottage.

Previous plans to turn the remote property into a respite care centre for the disabled were abandoned when the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust closed down in the wake of the scandal.