Hillwalker who died on Highland mountain named as church minister

A hillwalker who died on a Highland mountain has been named as a Church of Scotland minister.

Rev Johnny Paton embarked on a solo expedition from Ullapool to An Teallach, in Wester Ross, at around 1.30pm on Monday.

The 60-year-old told his wife Cathy he would take up to eight hours.

She reported the experienced hillwalker missing at 10.30pm after being unable to make contact with him.

Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team was joined by the HM Coastguard helicopter in searching for Mr Paton, whose body was discovered on the mountain at around 8.45am on Tuesday.

Craig Renton, depute secretary of the Ministries Council of the Church of Scotland, said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend Rev Johnny Paton.

“We are grateful for his ministry and pray God’s blessing and light be upon his family, friends and congregation during these difficult days.”

Sergeant Alasdair Goskirk added: “Our thoughts are with the man’s friends and family at this very sad time.

“There are no suspicious circumstances and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal in due course.”

Mr Paton led congregations in Kilninian and Kilmore linked with Salen, and Ulva linked with Tobermory linked with Torosay and Kinlochspelvie on the Isle of Mull.

He was a “Munro bagger” who took up his post on the Isle of Mull in 2013 and held a variety of positions within the Presbytery of Argyll.

Mr Paton studied alongside Rt Rev Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly, at New College in Edinburgh.

She said: “I am so sorry to hear of Johnny’s death and Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, convener of the World Mission Council, who is with me in Rome joins me in offering our sympathy and our prayers, to his wife Cathy, his family and friends and to his church family in the north of Mull.

“I have fond memories of Johnny from our days at New College. A man always quick to smile. So kind, compassionate and quietly diligent and faithful.”

Stewart Shaw, clerk to the Presbytery of Argyll, said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden loss of a distinguished minister and kindly friend, Rev Johnny Paton, minister on the Isle of Mull.

“We extend our sympathies and condolences to his wife, Cathy, and his family.

“We hold them and his congregations in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic time.”

Rev Dr Roderick Campbell, Moderator of the Presbytery of Argyll, will conduct worship at Salen Church on Mull on Sunday at 11am.

He will pay tribute to Mr Paton and offer support to his family and the congregation.