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

Gleann Taitneach Bridge Down


The bridge spanning the river in Gleann Taitneach (NO 088723), north-west of Spittal of Glenshee, is currently out of use. The wooden deck has gone, rendering the crossing unusable.

It is thought that part of the deck was washed out while the remainder was removed by the landowner, the Invercauld Estate, in the interests of safety. The bridge offered a useful link for walkers following core paths up Gleann Taitneach, across to Glen Lochsie and then back down the Dalmunzie House driveway, a circuit that is now only possible for those brave enough to wade across a stretch of river with no natural crossing points.

The Cairngorm National Park Authority is aware of the issue and is currently liaising with the estate on its plans for a replacement.


Kilbo Bothy Rebuilt


It has been a good few years since I last ventured into the wild upper reaches of Glen Prosen. If memory services, I passed through on a descent from Driesh via the Kilbo Path, emerging from forestry to cross Prosen Water by an old metal girder slung across the tumbling flow before resting by the remnants of Kilbo Bothy, a former shelter used by shepherds.

Hiking up the glen the other day, en route to Craigie Thieves and the hills on the south side of the valley, I discovered a completely different scene to the one I remembered. Not only has the forestry flanking the Kilbo Path on King’s Seat been felled but Kilbo Bothy (NO 249707) has risen from its ruins, rebuilt as a shelter and lunch hut for shooting and stalking parties. And, where once the old girder offered a crossing point, there is now a wooden bridge, linking tracks that run further up the glen, serving a hydro development.

The new bothy, which is securely locked and shuttered, stands on the footprint of the old refuge and incorporates much of its stone while the outlines of adjoining enclosures remain. In addition to the main building, a timber-clad lean-to has been added at the back, housing toilets and a small kitchen.

According to Cairngorms National Park Authority documents, Glenprosen Estate received planning permission for the project in March 2012. Work was complete by the end of 2015. A photo of ruined Kilbo can be found here.