Sidlaw Hills howff renovation

IMG_5558Hiking through the Sidlaw Hills, near Dundee, recently I happened upon an old howff lying just off one of the paths. Tucked away amid a scattered woodland of larch and Scots pine, the wee stone shelter sits above an informal wild camping area.

Original well constructed from flat igneous rocks and stones common to the area, the howff remains reasonably solid and offers some protection from the elements. It is clean and tidy, and free of rubbish. However, the roof, patched up with polythene, is not particularly watertight and looks really rather messy.

After first discovering the howff and then revisiting on a number of occasions, I cannot help but feel some renovation work is required. It would not take much work to return this charming little shelter to a wind and watertight state, while at the same time sorting out the unsightly tangle of plastic atop the stonework.


To this end, I am drawing up plans to stabilise and reconstruct sections of wall that require attention before re-roofing the structure. There is no timescale on the works, but hopefully they will be undertaken over the Summer of 2019.

To fund the project, I have decided to donate 10% from the cover price of several of my outdoor books to pay for materials. Time will, obviously, be given freely!

I would love to hear from anyone who might like to join me in this endeavour, or who may know of the howff and have information on its history. Drop me an email at or comment below.

In the meantime, 10% from the cover price of the following books (ebook and paperback versions), available from Amazon, will, from June 1, 2019, go into a fund to pay for the renovation and will continue to do so until the project is complete:

Wild Camping in Scotland by [Carron, James]

Highland Hermit
Bothies, Huts & Howffs in the Hills – Perthshire & Angus
Secret Scotland
Wild Camping in Scotland


Secret Scotland

Cover1Welcome to Scotland… Not to the Scotland of glossy tourist brochures, airbrushed landscape photographs, coach parties, visitor centres and woollen mill cafes, but to a nation of secret, treasured places, free of crowds and tartan trappings.

Here, we veer off the well-trod tourist trail and wander down backroads and byways to reveal the country’s unusual and offbeat attractions, quirky curiosities and hidden gems, secluded and less well-known spots that await discovery.

Of the 50 attractions listed in the book, most can be visited at any time of the year, day or night, with no booking required or admission charged.

So, whether you want to wish upon an ancient stone, spend the night in a Royal lodge or hermit’s bothy, drive an alpine road, climb a manmade hill, spot gnomes all at sea, descend into a pagan canyon or see where oil rigs go to die, pack a bag and enjoy the journey…

Available now in paperback from Amazon

Secret Scotland for a taste of Secret Scotland

Kerrowmore Wood trails closed

3 - The first of the forest lochans encountered - James Carron, Take a HikeThe network of trails through Kerrowmore Wood, near Bridge of Balgie, Glen Lyon, is currently closed to allow the Meggernie Estate to fell existing forestry and replant it as a native pinewoods.

The paths will be upgraded as part of the project, which is due for completion sometime in 2019/20.

Other routes on the estate, including walks in Meggernie Birchwood, remain open.


The new Ruigh Aiteachain

Ruigh Aiteachain, in Glen Feshie, is set to become a real five-star bothy thanks to a major renovation that, at the time of writing (early September 2017), is nearing completion.

The bothy has been closed for a year while contractors working for Glenfeshie Estate Ltd – owners of the estate – strip out the old and bring in the new. It should re-open towards the end of September or in early October 2017. Read more

New bothy for Cairngorms

The Cairngorms is on track for a new MBA bothy – the former keeper’s cottage at Ruighe Ealasaid, often referred to as Red House (NO 002869).

An empty shell of a building, Ruighe Ealasaid, which sits by the Geldie Burn, was built in the early 19th century to house a shepherd and his family. Following land clearances, it was remodelled as a gamekeeper’s cottage but was abandoned in the first half of the 20th century and was used as a bothy until it deteriorated to the point where it was no longer habitable or safe.

A wooden shed to the rear has long since disappeared (I recall in the mid 1980s spending a night sheltering under the corrugated iron roof of the shed which, with the walls gone, had been fashioned into a makeshift bothy) and the cottage – so called because of its red corrugated iron roof – now sits derelict. In 2000 work was undertaken to repair and stabilise the structure and, after a lengthy period of uncertainty over its future, it now looks highly likely that it will be adopted by the MBA.

The association has been holding talks with the Mar Lodge Estate (owned by the National Trust for Scotland), plans are in the process of being drawn up and, if approved, work is due to begin later this year (2017).

For a picture of Ruighe Ealasaid, click here.

Comment accepted but a very worthwhile project, whenever it comes to fruition.



Bothies, Huts & Howffs in the Hills

bothies-cover-12NEW BOOK – Bothies are basic shelters in remote corners of the countryside, a home from home in the hills for walkers, backpackers, mountain bikers and others who love spending time in the great outdoors.

Scotland has a long tradition of bothying and, while the better known ones are easily found, one of the great pleasures of exploring the nation’s mountains and glens is stumbling upon one for the first time – and finding the door open.

This guide takes some of the guesswork out of the equation, listing unlocked habitable shelters, ranging from comfortable, well-equipped bothies suitable for overnight stays to simple wooden huts and howffs offering protection from the elements, a place to break for lunch or a bolthole in an emergency.

Covering Perthshire and Angus, the fully illustrated guide details the location of each bothy, hut or howff by grid reference, offers advice on how to reach it and outlines what to expect upon arrival. Available as a paperback and ebook from