Important People of Scottish Access - William Ferris

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A membership card displayed on an old

A non-comprehensive series looking at some of the people that have contributed to ScotWays and Scottish outdoor access across the last 175 years.

Born 11 December 1894, William Ferris (1894-1963) from Glasgow was dynamic, an enthusiast and enormously active in outdoor organisations. Among much else he was a founder of the Rucksack Club from which Hostelling Scotland (SYHA) evolved; he founded the Scottish Ramblers Federation; and he was a director and chairman of the Scottish Rights of Way Society.

The earliest letter from William Ferris which we have so far been able to locate in the ScotWays files dates to 1929 in relation to the right of way which runs north from Wester Carbeth past Dungoyach; this is now part of the West Highland Way. The second set of correspondence is with Arthur W Russell, and relates to bridges, signage and the law relating to rights of way. Such interests evidently continued to engage him throughout his life, it is thus perhaps no surprise that he ended up on our Board and ultimately became Chairman.

William Ferris was also a Justice of the Peace and his work with the Scottish Tourist Board led to him being awarded the OBE in 1962. In 1965, at Rowchoish by Loch Lomond, a former byre was restored as a shelter in his memory by the Scottish Rights of Way Society and other “Public Spirited Bodies”.  Opened by Professor Sir Bob Grieve, it is now maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association and is passed by the West Highland Way. His most famous legacy may perhaps now be the Carbeth Hutting Community, but his contribution to the wider outdoor access community deserves to be far better known.