In memory of Frank Davies, 86, the philanthropist who founded The Climbers Shop in Ambleside

The Westmorland Gazette: Frank Davies, founder of The Climbers Shop Frank Davies, founder of The Climbers Shop

A KEEN climber, sailor, rally driver and philanthropist who founded The Climbers Shop in Ambleside has died, aged 86.

Frank Davies opened the store – one of the first outdoor shops in the UK – in 1959 and it remains a focal point in the town more than half a century on.

He is survived by his son, Ben, and wife Cate. They paid tribute to him, saying they ‘will miss him greatly’.

Born in Manchester in 1928, Mr Davies's first passion was cycling, and as a teenager, he decided to take his bike off road one weekend and carry it over Kinder Scout.

This sparked a lifetime passion for the hills and, having had difficulty finding anywhere to buy walking and mountaineering gear himself, he decided that he would open a specialist shop.

Mr Davies was also a keen rock climber and, after learning to ski, he and friend Chris Bonington were members of one of the first British teams to tackle the Haute Route, from Chamonix to Zermatt.

Back home in Ambleside, he became involved in mountain rescue, and was chairman of the Langdale and Ambleside team for a time.

In the ‘60s and ‘70s Mr Davies took part in rallys every weekend in his Mini Cooper S with friend and navigator Bob Redhead.

In 1971, with the Wasdale farmer and fell runner Joss Naylor, Mr Davies established a Guinness record for the British Three Peaks that stands to this day.

He climbed Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, and Snowdon, in 11 hours and 56 minutes.

Mr Davies drove the specially prepared Ford Capri while Mr Naylor ran, with his shoes stuffed with wool from his Herdwicks, to stop his feet from blistering.

Mr Davies was also a keen sailor, teaching himself astro-navigation, and crossing the Atlantic in December 1989.

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He and and his wife Cate made many voyages together, in their Nicholson 43, Savoir Faire.

Combining his love of the mountains and sailing, Mr Davies competed in the Three Peaks races and Scottish Island Peaks races, winning the Three Peaks the year after its inception.

He was a quiet philanthropist and in 2005 set up the Frank Davies Family Trust - a charity that will now continue in his memory.

The entire rental income from the Climbers Shop, which Mr Davies retired from in 1997, is given away each year to his favourite third world charities.

Despite developing Parkinson’s Disease in his 60s, Mr Davies continued to climb, sail, ski and walk in the mountains, with Cate, and their son Ben, until he was 80.

On Monday, nearly 100 people gathered at Mr Davies’s Field Broughton home to celebrate his life, after he lost his battle with the disease on June 25.

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