Bothy culture: a tour of the Highlands’ sustainable sanctuaries

1 year ago 144

The Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) foundation has reopened its 105 upland huts, shelters and howffs aft much than a twelvemonth of closure owed to Covid. The overwhelming bulk of these are successful Scotland and they reopened successful August for what the MBA described arsenic “responsible use”, pointing retired that Covid has not gone away. The bothies are each sorts of shapes and sizes successful varied locations – galore are highly distant and operated with the statement of owners and estates and maintained by MBA volunteers since the precocious 60s and aboriginal 70s.

Allt nam Fang. Approaching Meanach bothy
  • Above,Allt nam Fang, approaching Meanach Bothy; right, Meanach Bothy, renovated successful 1977, is astir 1,000ft supra oversea level

Meanach bothy has been successful  the attraction   of the MBA since its renovation successful  1977.

The connection bothy comes from the Gaelic “bothan” for tiny dwelling, hut, hovel oregon shebeen. The bothies are not purpose-built, truthful their locations and quality are reasonably random. They are often not adjacent established routes nor adjacent fashionable locations. Many were built to location shepherds and property workers during the 19th period pursuing a play wherever the agrarian colonisation faced eviction, clearance and emigration. Many highland estates turned their backs connected the radical and turned their onshore implicit to stag shooting and sheep rearing.

The passionateness for summertime dwellings connected moors and mountains successful Scotland agelong pre-dates the Highland clearances successful the 18th and 19th centuries, going backmost hundreds of years. Ruins of tiny chromatic airighean (roughly constructed hut utilized portion pasturing animals) speckle the scenery successful galore north-western highland and land areas, and the representation of this civilization lives connected successful a wealthiness of Gaelic songs and stories. These are tales of courtships, breached hearts, shape-shifting h2o horses and galore different mysterious happenings.

There are a fewer shelters that are not portion of the MBA network. After the 2nd satellite war, determination was an accrued involvement successful men and women exploring the hills and mountains of Scotland – arsenic celebrated and inspired by the likes of adventurers Nan Shepherd, Bill Murray, Hamish MacInnes, Tom Patey and galore others.

Graeme Marshall and Murdo MacLeod
  • Murdo MacLeod tracks down the elusive Secret Howff

The Secret Howff
Skiers, climbers and mountaineers person ever sought refuge and structure successful the hills for weekends and overnight stays. Many estates discouraged camping and did not let huts to beryllium built. So a cat-and-mouse crippled developed, with climbers gathering huts oregon howffs successful secret, immoderate being dismantled oregon acceptable connected occurrence by estates. The ones that evaded find provided refuge to galore during the 50s and 60s. The virtual sole subsister is the Secret Howff. Built successful 1952 by 4 friends from Aberdeen, it was thoroughly refurbished successful 2017 with, successful a motion of the changed times, the assistance of the now-supportive estate. Very bully it is too. “Where is it?” you ask. “Can’t archer you, it’s a secret,” is the inevitable response. It took maine a portion and immoderate tiny detective enactment to find it, accompanied by civilian servant Graeme Marshall – a keen boulderer and climber.

Graeme Marshall practises his bouldering skills connected  the mode   to Leabaidh an Daimh Bhuidhe astatine  the Sneck by Ben Avon successful  Cairngorms
  • Above, Graeme Marshall practises his bouldering skills en way to Leabaidh an Daimh Bhuidhe astatine the Sneck by Ben Avon successful the Cairngorms; below, Graeme heading for the acme of Ben Avon

Graeme says: “Bothy civilization embodies the manner of galore outdoor enthusiasts. It has ever been a spot wherever I person been capable to relax, laughter and stock experiences. The upland bothy genuinely is simply a spot of sanctuary.” The howff continues to beryllium maintained by a tiny dedicated squad of enthusiasts and remains unfastened to time trippers and for overnight stays. Constructed from shattered quartzite it sleeps 2 comfortably, nether the watchful oculus of a carved osprey and an aged ice-cream advertisement. It has a folder containing the History of The Secret Howff, and a visitors publication kept successful an ammunition box. So, arsenic they say, erstwhile you find the secret, support it.

Graeme Marshall connected  the mode   to Leabaidh an Daimh Bhuidhe - The acme  of Ben Avon successful  Cairngorms
A walker arrives astatine  nightfall - Ben Alder Cottage beside Loch Ericht
  • A walker arrives astatine nightfall astatine Ben Alder Cottage by Loch Ericht

Ben Alder Cottage, Loch Ericht
Dating backmost to 1871, Ben Alder Cottage is simply a erstwhile location to property workers and navvies. In the 20th period a mendacious communicative was circulated, claiming a cervid stalker had hung himself there, successful an effort to discourage poachers and tramps from staying.

Ben Alder Cottage beside Loch Ericht
  • Above, Ben Alder Cottage beside Loch Ericht; right: an carnal skull hangs from the ceiling, looking retired connected Loch Ericht, and the visitors’ book

A skull hangs from the ceiling, successful  Ben Alder Cottage
The presumption    retired  to Loch Ericht
Visitor publication  astatine  Ben Alder Cottage

Subsequent tales of supernatural disturbances recovered their mode into modern people and hence a fable was born. Many inactive get spooked. I cycled successful from Dalwhinnie by Loch Ericht and Loch Pattack to the closed Culra Bothy (unlocked for emergencies, but intelligibly marked arsenic closed owed to asbestos having been recovered successful the roof). From there, I continued to Sron Bealach Beithe and Loch a’ Bhealach Bheithe to the acme of Ben Alder, past down to Ben Alder Cottage by the enactment of Loch Ericht.

The Shelter stone, Loch Avon aka Loch A’an
  • Above, a walker takes refuge successful the tremendous Shelter Stone astatine Loch Avon

The Shelter Stone, Loch Avon (aka Loch A’an)
It is simply a melodramatic decent down Coire Raibeirt to the sandy beaches of Loch Avon successful the Cairngorms. There, successful a breached boulder field, is an tremendous stone known arsenic the Shelter Stone. If you crawl beneath it, you’ll find yourself successful a tiny cavern. Sleeping 4 – benignant of comfortably – it excessively has a agelong past and its ain visitors’ publication successful a sealed container.

In Nan Shepherd’s publication The Living Mountain, she gives an relationship of 2 young boys, betwixt the wars, who spent the nighttime of 2 January successful the earthy stone bivvy beneath this elephantine boulder, earlier perishing successful the snowfall arsenic they attempted to locomotion backmost to civilisation. Afterwards, a procession of radical came morbidly (says Nan) to work the boys’ relationship of their past nighttime connected Earth, written successful the visitors’ diary kept beneath the stone. There is inactive a Cairngorm Club visitors publication there.

The Hutchison Memorial Hut.
  • Above, the Hutchison Memorial Hut, sitting astatine 2,500ft successful Coire Etchachan

The Hutchison Memorial Hut, the Cairngorms
From determination it is simply a steep locomotion to Loch Etchachan and past a descent into Coire Etchachan to find the Hutchison Memorial Hut. This is 1 of the fewer purpose-built shelters successful the Highlands, erected successful representation of celebrated Aberdeen geologist Arthur Gilbertston Hutchison who died successful a climbing mishap successful 1949.

Staying successful the hut for the nighttime was statistician Jiayi Lui, a Scottish nonmigratory primitively from Beijing. A keen climber, runner and unfastened h2o swimmer, she is caller to bothy sojourns, but says, “It opens up a caller mode of trekking successful the Scottish mountains.”

Adrian Pedley, a task  manager   from Manchester, has been utilizing the hut arsenic  a basal  for climbing the surrounding Munros.
  • Adrian Pedley, who has been utilizing the Hutchison Memorial Hut arsenic a basal for climbing the Munros, with Jiayi Lui (sitting)

Adrian Pedley, a task manager from Manchester, has been utilizing the hut arsenic a basal for climbing the surrounding Munros. Formerly a nonrecreational outdoor guide, Adrian has caved, climbed and skied each his life. It was his archetypal sojourn to the hut, and helium said, “I’m staying for 2 nights, and I’ve met 2 large sets of radical and had enlightening conversations. It’s large fun.”

A radical  of upland  bikers depart Lairig Leacach Bothy wherever  they camped the night.
  • Mountain bikers depart from Lairig Leacach Bothy, wherever they had acceptable up campy for the night

Lairig Leacach Bothy
Lairig Leacach is connected the aged drovers’ roadworthy linking the Great Glen with the south. It has been maintained by the MBA since 1977 and is fashionable with walkers and cyclists who question done the walk oregon are ascent the hills successful the Grey Corries range.

A radical  of upland  bikers lukewarm  by occurrence  astatine  Lairig Leacach Bothy wherever  they camped the night. Lairig Leacach is connected  the aged  drovers roadworthy  linking the Great Glen with the south. It has been maintained by the MBA since 1977 and is fashionable  with walkers and cyclists who question   done  the walk  oregon  who are climbing the hills successful  the Grey Corries range.The Mountain Bothy Association foundation  person  reopened their 105 upland  huts, shelters and howffs aft  a twelvemonth  of closure owed  to covid. The overwhelming bulk  of these are successful  Scotland and they reopened successful  August for what the MBA described arsenic  “responsible use” pointing retired  that covid has not gone away. The bothies are each  sorts of shapes and sizes successful  varied locations galore  highly  distant    maintained with the statement  of owners and estates and maintained by MBA volunteers since the precocious   60’s and aboriginal  70’s
  • Enjoying the cosy log occurrence astatine Lairig Leacach Bothy

Experienced Munro bagger Dillon William Simpson was visiting his archetypal bothy. “It’s fantastic,” helium says. “It’s a truly accessible mode for radical to bask the countryside and the outdoors. It’s precise comfy and I had bully institution – I didn’t expect to beryllium sharing with 10 oregon truthful people.”

Experienced Munro bagger Dillon William Simpson, Harris Wedderburn-Scott, merchant navy officer, from the Borders with Bentley the spaniel astatine  Lairig Leacach Bothy
  • Munro bagger Dillon William Simpson (left) with keen walker Harris Wedderburn-Scott and his spaniel Bentley astatine Lairig Leacach Bothy

Among his companions was Harris Wedderburn-Scott, a merchant navy serviceman from the Borders and a keen walker and chaotic camper who was hunkering down for his 3rd bothy stay.

Ruigh Aiteachain bothy successful  Glenfeshie. A bothy for beginners, it has associations with 19th period  scenery  creator   Sir Edwin Landseer and a replica of his celebrated  stag caput  coating  “Monarch of The Glen” hangs successful  the hut. The gathering  has been precocious    renovated astatine  the disbursal  of concern  antheral   and billionaire Glenfeshie Estate landowner Anders Povlsen
  • The precocious renovated Ruigh Aiteachain Bothy

Ruigh Aiteachain Bothy, Glenfeshie
A bothy for beginners, Ruigh Aiteachain has associations with 19th-century scenery creator Sir Edwin Landseer; a replica of his celebrated stag-head painting, Monarch of The Glen, hangs successful the hut. The gathering has been precocious renovated by Glenfeshie property landowner Anders Povlsen.

Lindsay Bryce, formerly worked successful  the lipid  manufacture  but been retired for decades. He has kayaked climbed and been a upland  rescue squad  member. He has 60 years acquisition   of staying successful  bothies which helium  describes arsenic  “utterly magical”
  • Lindsay Bryce, who formerly worked successful the lipid industry, has been staying successful bothies for 60 years and describes them arsenic ‘utterly magical’. He is the unofficial keeper of the Glenfeshie bothy

Hannah Dunn, who utilized  to beryllium  an aerospace engineer, she has been surviving  successful  her car   since March, travelling done  Wales, Yorkshire, the Lake District and the Highlands. “I fell successful  emotion  with Scotland and it feels similar  location  now. I person  lone  stayed successful  a fistful  of bothies.”
  • Hannah Dunn, a erstwhile aerospace engineer, has been surviving successful her car since March, travelling done Wales, Yorkshire, the Lake District and the Highlands. ‘I’ve lone stayed successful a fistful of bothies,’ she says, ‘but I’ve fallen successful emotion with Scotland and it feels similar location now’

Craig Harkness and Grace Maycock astatine  Ruigh Aiteachan
  • Craig Harkness and Grace Maycock astatine Ruigh Aiteachain Bothy

Glenfeshie was Craig Harkness’s archetypal bothy stay, and helium says: “I’ve been spoilt for choice. It was astir similar a B&B – Lindsay made maine beverage erstwhile I arrived and java successful the morning. It’s been a truly bully experience.”

Grace Maycock, a horticulturalist astatine an integrated marketplace plot successful East Lothian, has antecedently stayed astatine a bothy successful the Orkneys but said Glenfeshie was overmuch much comfortable.

Preparing to depart Mark and Adam Noble benignant   their bikes. Ruigh Aiteachain bothy successful  Glenfeshie
  • Above, Mark and Adam Noble, begetter and son, astatine Ruigh Aiteachain Bothy successful Glenfeshie; right, Mark and Adam beside the replica of Sir Edwin Landseer’s celebrated Monarch of the Glen painting

Mark and Adam Noble

Adam Mark Noble, a paramedic surviving successful Nethy Bridge and a erstwhile outdoor instructor, was taking his dad, Mark Noble, connected a 60th day upland motorcycle travel done the glen.

Tomsleibhe Bothy, Glenforsa, Isle of Mull
On 1 February 1945, a wartime Dakota flying from Montreal via Reykjavik crashed into the broadside of Beinn Talaidh, 200ft beneath the summit. Three of its 8 passengers were killed. The propeller remains arsenic a memorial extracurricular the Tomsleibhe Bothy, Glenforsa, connected the Isle of Mull.

Tomsleibhe Bothy successful  Glen Forsa - the propeller remains arsenic  a memorial outside
  • Tomsleibhe Bothy successful Glen Forsa. The propellor from the doomed formation successful 1945 remains arsenic a memorial to those who mislaid their lives