Gwen Moffat

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Gwen Mary Moffat
(1924-07-03) 3 July 1924 (age 96)
OccupationNovelist, Climber, Mountain Guide
GenreFiction Biography

Gwen Mary Moffat (née Goddard; born 3 July 1924) is a British mountaineer and writer.[1]

Climbing career[edit]

Moffat was an Army driver in the Auxiliary Territorial Service stationed in North Wales after the end of the Second World War when she met a climber who introduced her to climbing and a bohemian lifestyle.[2][3] During the 1940s and 1950s she lived rough, climbing in Snowdonia, the Lakes, Scotland and the Alps, supporting herself among other jobs by working as a model for artists, in domestic service, forestry, farming and driving a travelling shop.[3][2] In 1953 she became the first female British certificated mountain guide, and for ten years was closely associated with the RAF Mountain Rescue Service, making a living from climbing.[4]

Moffatt was known for often climbing barefoot claiming it was better because there was more contact with the rock and no constriction of the toes.[5] Moffat is an Honorary Member of the women-only Pinnacle Club and the British Mountaineering Association.[6]


Moffat featured in the BBC film Eye to Eye, broadcast in 1958.[7] Joe Brown did the hard amateur climbing and Moffat, the professional, took her husband up a route on Idwal Slabs.[7] In 2015 Jen Randall and Claire Carter made a film, Operation Moffat, based on Moffat's autobiographical book Space below my Feet[8]. The film was premiered at Banff Mountain Film Festival UK tour[9] and has won over 20 international film awards.[10] Moffat is included in Herrington's photographic work The Climbers[11][12] featuring 60 climbers considered legends of the 20th century. In 2017 Moffat contributed to a documentary Give Me Space Below My Feet for BBC Radio 3.[13]

Writing career[edit]

Moffat began her writing career in the 1950s, working for BBC radio, and published her autobiography in 1961.[3] In the 1970s, she started writing crime fiction, in particular the Miss Pink series featuring Melinda Pink, a middle aged magistrate and climber.[14][15] Following a commission by Victor Gollancz Ltd to follow the California Trail[16] and produce a book, she subsequently wrote 11 mysteries set in the American West.[17] She wrote her last novel, Gone Feral, when she was in her 80s. Moffat currently reviews for the crime magazine Shots.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Moffat married Gordon Moffat with whom she had a daughter, Sheena, born in 1949. In 1955, Moffat married Flight Sergeant John Lees, GM, BEM. Divorced in 1970.[18][7]


  • Space Below my Feet (1961)[3]
  • Two Star Red (1964)
  • On My Home Ground (1968)
  • Survival Count (1972)
  • Deviant Death (1973)
  • Lady with a Cool Eye (Melinda Pink) (1973)
  • The Corpse Road (1974).
  • Hard Option (1975)
  • Miss Pink at the Edge of the World (Melinda Pink) (1975)
  • A Short Time to Live (Melinda Pink) (1976)
  • Over the Sea to Death (Melinda Pink) (1976)
  • Persons Unknown (Melinda Pink) (1978)
  • Hard Road West (1981)
  • Die Like a Dog (Melinda Pink) (1982)
  • The Buckskin Girl (1982)
  • Last Chance Country (Melinda Pink) (1983)
  • Grizzly Trail (Melinda Pink) (1984)
  • Snare (Melinda Pink) (1987)
  • The Stone Hawk (Melinda Pink) (1989)
  • The Storm Seekers (1989)
  • Rage (Melinda Pink) (1990)
  • The Raptor Zone (Melinda Pink) (1990)
  • Pit Bull (1991)
  • Veronica's Sisters (Melinda Pink) (1992)
  • The Outside Edge (1993)
  • Cue the Battered Wife (1994)
  • A Wreath of Dead Moths (1998)
  • The Lost Girls (Melinda Pink) (1998)
  • Private Sins (Melinda Pink) (1999)
  • Running Dogs (1999)
  • Quicksand (2001)
  • Retribution (Melinda Pink) (2002)
  • Man Trap (2003)
  • Dying for Love (2005)
  • Gone Feral (2007)


  1. ^ Klein, Kathleen Gregory, ed. (1 January 1994). Great Women Mystery Writers: Classic to Contemporary. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313287708.
  2. ^ a b "Inspirational climber recognised by national body". 29 January 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Gwen Moffat (1961). Space Below My Feet. Sigma Leisure. ISBN 978-1-85058-769-9.
  4. ^ "Inspirational climber recognised by national body". 29 January 2016.
  5. ^ "Gwen Moffat // Interview". Retrieved 25 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "91-year-old from Penrith honoured for being the first British Mountain Guide". ITV News.
  7. ^ a b c "Rediscovered: TV film of climbing history". Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Trailblazing climber celebrated in film". BBC News.
  9. ^ Cole, Laura. "Operation Moffat – The story of Britain's first female mountain guide – Geographical". Retrieved 25 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "BMC TV's Operation Moffat: swarming to a screen near you". Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  11. ^ Herrington, Jim (2016). The a Climbers. Mountaineers Books. ISBN 978-1-68051-083-6.
  12. ^ Berry, Natalie. "INTERVIEW: Reading Between the Lines - Gwen Moffat". UKC. Retrieved 25 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Singh, Anita (2 September 2017). "93-year-old mountaineer to relive the climb of her life on radio via '3D sound'". The Telegraph.
  14. ^ "Gwen Moffat". UK: Tangled Web. Retrieved 25 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Gwen Moffat". Shots Magazine. UK. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  16. ^ "Gwen Moffat". UK: Tangled Web. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Book Review: Do No Harm". UK: Shots Magazine. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  18. ^ Perrin, Jim (24 August 2002). "Obituary: Johnnie Lees". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 July 2018.