ARTICLE - UKC Romance: Love on the Rocks

© Alex Roddie

We know that our forums have played Cupid over the years: furtive glances in the form of winky faces and flirty replies to the most platonic of posts. Cyber romance doesn't always work out, but we tracked down two couples who met through our forums.Their relationships are often 'on the rocks', but that hasn't stopped them reaching the dizzy heights of love or even tying the knot...

So go on, if you're a member of the lonely hearts club this Valentine's Day, why not head down to the forums?*

*Please note, we expect an invite to any UKC weddings...

Pauline Kell & David Lilly

Top of Naranjo de Bulnes  © David Lilly
Top of Naranjo de Bulnes
© David Lilly
Ages: 48 & 48

Locations and occupations:

​Pauline: Retail Manager, Tiso, Rose Street, Edinburgh.

David: Runs his own business, also in Edinburgh.​

How long have you both been on UKC?

​Pauline: Sept 2007

David: Oct 2009

So, tell us how it all began?

​David posted on UKC Skiing Forum looking for ski​-touring/mountaineering partners for a Highlands trip. Pauline was one of the people who replied to say they were interested.

How did things progress?

Pauline was advised by her colleagues not to give me her number! But she ignored them! As a result we started texting each other about the proposed trip first, then other stuff :) We finally plucked up the courage to speak on the phone and found we had a lot in common in terms of what we were looking for in a partner: climber, skier and love of the outdoors.

If it was a virtual 'meet', how and when did you first meet face to face?

​After about two weeks talking over the phone we agreed to meet up and as David lived in St. Fillans, Lochearn, and Pauline in Edinburgh​, we chose a half way place: Stirling Castle.

Top of Ben Nevis, Thomson's Route  © David Lilly
Top of Ben Nevis, Thomson's Route
© David Lilly

Was it love at first sight?

​Pauline says 'yes' for both of us ;)​

How have things progressed? Are you now married/got kids?

​After 6 months David moved out of St. Fillans with his young son to Edinburgh to live with Pauline, who has 4 children.​ 4 years and many adventures later we are still here and the 5 kids haven't killed us yet! Oh! We forgot, we both had a dog each who are now partners too :)

Miroir d'Argentine trip
© David Lilly

Tell us about some climbing adventures you've had together since meeting?

​Where to start! David's first Scottish winter climbs on Ben Nevis with Pauline remain some of his best winter memories; Sea cliff dragging in Reiff; Martinez Directe on Naranjo de Bulnes in Los Picos, Spain; Cragging in La Clappe, France and big wall climbing on La Directe, Le Mirror d'Agentine in Switzerland with many climbing trips across the Highlands, Lake District and Wales. We have also done a lot of ski-touring around Scotland, a memorable trip being a 2 day outing in particularly cold weather with an overnight in a tent; but, we haven't 'yet' managed the original 5 day trip David advertised in 2012!

Les Diablerets glacier trip
© David Lilly

​What are your Valentine's Day plans?

​We try to avoid Valentine's Day at our age!​

Any advice for Lonely Hearts on UKC?

​Pauline says, forget about being a lonely heart and get out there doing the things you love doing and you might meet someone like minded​. David says, get your ad out!

Lunch at Beinn Udlaidh, Quartzvein Scoop
© David Lilly

Do you think a dating forum would go down well on the site?

​Widening the appeal of the 'Partners' forum may be a good idea rather than a specific dating forum.

Alex Roddie (Only a Hill) and Hannah Smelt (Hannah S, originally Little Miss No Idea).

Alex Roddie and Hannah Smelt, soon to be married  © Alex Roddie
Alex Roddie and Hannah Smelt, soon to be married
© Alex Roddie

Ages: 30 & 31

Locations and occupations:

We both live in Lincolnshire. I'm a freelance editor and outdoor writer; Hannah is a florist and crafter.

How long have you both been on UKC?

I've been a member since 2006, and Hannah joined a few months later in early 2007.

So, tell us how it all began? Was it a forum post, meet, or something else?

Things started slowly. We had chatted a few times on various threads in the early days, but we didn't really notice each other until a couple of years later when I moved to Glen Coe. I added her on Facebook, we exchanged emails, and tried a couple of times to meet up but logistics were tricky and I kept getting distracted by superb winter-climbing conditions in the Highlands! Finally, in August 2010, we managed to meet up in person.

If it was a virtual 'meet', how and when did you first meet face to face? Was it love at first sight?

Pretty much! In August 2010 I was taking a summer off work to do some mountaineering and backpacking, and in between trips I made the journey to Lincolnshire to meet her. We clicked immediately. For our first date we went on a hike to a local ruined castle and were terrorised by sandwich-stealing ducks, but that failed to put me off I made several more trips to see her over the next few months.

How have things progressed?

I moved down to Lincolnshire in 2011 to be with Hannah, and we have lived together ever since. This November, on a holiday to the Yorkshire Dales, I asked her to marry me and she said yes! We're currently planning a spring 2018 wedding.

Alex proposes to Hannah  © Alex Roddie
Alex proposes to Hannah
© Alex Roddie

Tell us about some climbing adventures you've had together since meeting?

We're both more into hillwalking than climbing these days, but we've walked together in Glen Coe, the Peak District, Lake District, and several trips to the Yorkshire Dales. We also enjoy walks in our local Lincolnshire countryside.

What are your Valentine's Day plans?

Well, Hannah is a florist, so Valentine's Day is her biggest trading day of the year which doesn't leave much time for romance! During our first year together I called the shop, pretended to be someone else, and ordered roses for her. I don't think I'd get away with that a second time, though...

Any advice for Lonely Hearts on UKC?

Communication online can be brutal and opinionated, so take a step back and try to be more genuine.

Do you think a dating forum would go down well on the site?


...and a story of friendship.

Diarmuid Duggan got in touch to say that he had made one of his most important friendships through UKC. He wanted to share his story below:

'I have been lucky enough to have lived in many parts of the world. Ireland, UK, Nigeria, Turkey, New Zealand. But no matter where I live I always stay in touch with the climbing community via UKC. I was living at the time in New Zealand when I meet one of my closest friends via UKC forums. There was a post on UKC asking "where is the best place to live for climbing/skiing?" I replied saying Innsbruck as I was moving to Innsbruck a month later. About 2-3 days later I get an email via the Forum from an guy called Al saying he also was moving to Innsbruck and if we could meet up. Well, 4 years later and after many routes and ski tours we are still close friends. Thanks UKC for hooking us up.'

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14 Feb, 2017
There must have been others! Nothing from JCT and Brian? Or are they not speaking to UKC any more?
14 Feb, 2017
Natalie started a thread looking for couples a few weeks back. Yes, there are lots. I spotted a 'suggested friend' on my FB feed this morning, and it's the child of someone from UKC; I remember the mother being pregnant. Tempus fugit... Taking the third example from the article, I have a lot of friends I've met through UKC; many of my FB friends are UKC or ex-UKC, and then there are the 'UKC friends' who I've never met, but, through years of exchanges on here, feel I know to some extent. Then there are those on UKC who I don't really want to meet...
14 Feb, 2017
The Pudsey bonobo and his mate will be making sweet love for Valentine's Day shurely ?
14 Feb, 2017
My main reaction to this article is that I remember the Direct on the Mirroir d'Argentine very well ! Does that say all you need to know about climbers, or is it just me ;) ??
14 Feb, 2017
There were, but only two got back to me in the end after sending questions. Too busy planning their dates :)
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