It’s hardly a surprise when you hear that a Lesmahagow clergyman has been closer to Heaven than most of us.
However, the fact that he’s done it 284 times is a bit more remarkable!
He’s just completed climbing every one of Scotland’s 3,000ft-plus Munro peaks, making the appropriately-named Reverend Cliff Jackson the 6,325th person to do so.
The regional chaplain to the Auchlochan retirement village is now 52 years old and ‘bagging’ all the Munros took him almost 19 years.
This brings him a much-coveted Munro Society tie and a certificate from the Scottish Mountaineering Club plus the title of a ‘Completist’, reserved for those who have climbed every peak..
Speaking about his achievement, Cliff revealed he was following in a tradition. “The first climbers to finish Sir Hugh Munro’s list of Scottish mountains of 3,000 feet (914 metres) or above were also ministers.
“Then, 117 years later, I stepped onto the summit of Ladhar Bheinn myself – which is the most westerly Munro on the Scottish mainland.
“I’m delighted to be walking in the footsteps of those first climbers.”
By pure chance, Cliff found that one of his predecessors as a Completist - albeit not as long ago as 117 years - was living where he now works in Lesmahagow.
One of the first people to celebrate Cliff’s success with him on his return to Lesmahagow was veteran Munro bagger Jim Dixon who attained the title over two decades ago - and when almost 20 years older than Cliff when he won the accolade.
On August 10, 1996, Jim – who was then a sprightly 70-year-old – became Completist number 1,594 having taken just over 20 years to finish his round on An Gearanach, a Munro situated in the Mamore Forest.
Aged 92, Jim is now a down-to-earth resident of Auchlochan Garden Village and he and Cliff enjoy chatting about their shared experiences, especially those days `on the hill’ when not everything went according to plan!