/ Abuse of Bothies

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MrsBuggins 14 Jul 2019

I don't have link at present but I was alarmed to read recently that some people have been using bothies as venues for wild parties and drinking sessions. Apparently there have also been cases of vandalism. In some instances genuine walkers and climbers have been turned away and verbally abused by the miscreants.

I seem to recall seeing a while ago that there was a suggestion that bothy locations should be kept secret. I'd be interested to know what criteria you would have to meet to be privy to a bothy's location.

Otherwise are there any other measures that could be employed to ensure that bothies are only used in a genuine and responsible manner.

OMR 14 Jul 2019
In reply to MrsBuggins:

The link you're probably thinking of is here - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-48921280

This is a very specific problem to a few south of Scotland bothies, related to people taking van-loads of people, drink and partying stuff in to bothies along unlocked forestry tracks. It's not a general problem and, although there have been relatively recent instances of bothy vandalism elsewhere, it is on the whole an increasingly rare problem.

The MBA certainly has no plans to try and make bothy locations secret - nor could it without endangering its charitable status, even if the will was there. However, despite the existence of some old guard bothiers harking back to an age when bothies WERE secret (and when there was actually more vandalism and littering) the general opinion in the MBA is that bothy locations should be in the public domain and that the question of behaviour is best tackled through education.

MrsBuggins 14 Jul 2019
In reply to OMR:

Thanks for that reassuring info. Good to know that, by and large, bothy users are respectful and responsible people.

Bob Kemp 14 Jul 2019
In reply to MrsBuggins:

I suspect the genie is out of the bottle in the internet age. Hard to make bothies secret again now.

beh 14 Jul 2019
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Ye, I was a bit shocked to see bothies get significant heat on hotukdeals recently - "Looking for a cheap deal in the school summer holidays? Stay in a bothy in a remote part of Scotland or Wales. No need to book and it's completely free just take some firewood and a shovel ..."

Simon Caldwell 15 Jul 2019
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I suspect that the original MBA decision to publish location details was just a recognition of this fact - in the internet age, secrecy is impossible even if it was wanted.

summo 15 Jul 2019
In reply to MrsBuggins:

I think the only solution would be to go against the uks original bothy ethos and head down the Norwegian hut management route and have a master key system. 

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OwenM 15 Jul 2019
In reply to summo:

A bit over the top and really goes against the very idea of bothies.

Yes, I have come across vandalism in bothies in the past. And, yes, I've met people who have gone there just to get off their faces. But that's been very much on the minority. Having open shelters you can head for when the weather turns foul is something worth keeping, even if idiots sometimes abuse them.

Mike Peacock 15 Jul 2019
In reply to MrsBuggins:

A recent mountain rescue incident at Dulyn Bothy in the Carneddau:

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-48822701

"Mountain rescue volunteers who searched for a man who wandered off in the Snowdonia mountains found him asleep under a rock. The group from Manchester and Warrington had been having a party at Dulyn Bothy, above the Conwy Valley, when the man went off alone."

summo 15 Jul 2019
In reply to OwenM:

> A bit over the top and really goes against the very idea of bothies.

I agree it's against the ethos but I don't think it's a problem that's going to disappear or decline. 

> Yes, I have come across vandalism in bothies in the past. And, yes, I've met people who have gone there just to get off their faces. But that's been very much on the minority. Having open shelters you can head for when the weather turns foul is something worth keeping, even if idiots sometimes abuse them.

I agree for the remoter locations where you might just want an hour to shelter then push on. But some are much more accessible. 

It depends if the users are happy to trade the current problems for permanent open access. 

Post edited at 13:47
olddirtydoggy 15 Jul 2019
In reply to MrsBuggins:

Not an awful lot can be done. Society will always breed a small minority of scumbags, the vast majority of users are perfectly fine. There is a system in place to keep them maintained, yes it's a charitable volunteer set up but it's all we have. On the rare occasion I've used them we make sure the place is cleaner than when we got there and if we all do our bit it will reduce the impact on the system.

On a side note we physically threw a drunk out of the Bob Scott bothy a few years ago as he was scaring guests and urinating on the floor inside. Anyone remember the state of the larger Honnister bothy before that bloke kindly renovated it at his own cost? I remember needles, porn mags and glass all over the floor.

OwenM 15 Jul 2019
In reply to summo:

> I agree it's against the ethos but I don't think it's a problem that's going to disappear or decline. 

I really disagree, it was far more prevalent in the past. Knee jerk reactions are never the answer. 

ScraggyGoat 15 Jul 2019

Episodic vandalism/raves have unfortunately been occurring for decades, particularly in Border bothies (plus some others), and can't be attributed directly to do with recent bothy promotion.  It must be remembered that bothy grid references have been readily available either through the MBA, or elsewhere since the mid-1990's, and for a period before that the MBA handbooks listed them by name, but ordered by geographic locations, meaning it was a very simple task to look at an OS map and locate them.  Plus the 'local lads' always knew where they were anyway for a party. So locations haven't been 'secret' in any sense for at least 3 decades.   The biggest difference overall, is as a result of MBA volunteers efforts many bothy interior and exterior fabrics are in far better nick than they used to be.

The forthcoming challenge for the MBA, 'old guard bothy users' (who ever they are) and landowners is what happens next with the recent wave of deliberate and widespread promotion out-with of the traditional UK hill-going fraternity, coupled with increasing mass tourism to Scotland, and the development of long distance trails.  Simply; how to accommodate and maintain, with a potential up-surge in use and associated wear and tear.  Sadly this will include a bit of abuse.

In my view landowners will be faced with a decision over the most popular ones on common 'trails' within the next few decades, should the CWT and Skye Trail become 'Global' destinations like the Haute Route, Tour du Mt. Blanc, Hot-spring trail, Kings Trail and Milford Trail.  A) Work with the MBA to potentially expand them, or create more to 'spread the load' and manage the associated human waste and rubbish, B) move to a manned system, from one end of the spectrum a hostel/NZ DOC/ Icelandic/Norwegian approach, to at the other fully commercialize by transform to a alpine hut/hotel for profit without the MBA.

While you and I might like the leaky lum, bothy mouse entertainment, chance encounters with strangers over a dram and taking the spade for a walk,  there are a lot of people who  like a cooked meal, flushing loo, shower and a door they can lock, and would happily pay handsomely to stay in surroundings like Sourlies, Carnmore, or Shenaval after a hard days walk but in comfort. It hasn't currently happened as the economics didn't stack up and sporting estate landowners have been indifferent.  If the numbers increase, the economics will change, and the buildings/locations will be viewed as opportunities rather than liabilities. 

C) Closing them won't turn back the numbers taking access across the respective estates crossed by the likes of the CWT. It might provide respite for other estates, but most estates with MBA bothies are by definition relatively progressive and welcoming. A few, and a couple already have, be turned into rented, or private holiday accommodation.

If you look at many overseas 'trails' you will see the precedence for this; an evolution of accommodation, a small hut / bothy structure, a larger club or alpine hut, with both being dwarfed by a larger newer structure all with meters of each other.

In a way it will complete a circle, as most bothies are with us as a result of the structures/land-use being uneconomic to put them to any other use, they will be lost (bar the odd closure and bothy fire) in their current form when they become economic to use again. 

What will happen to some between the time some estates get fed up, while the numbers not being economic for change is a concern.  Not that I'm relishing the thought of a 40 bed mountain hotel at Carnmore....

Post edited at 15:34
OMR 15 Jul 2019
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

Widespread promotion of bothies to non-traditional users is certainly making a lot of noise on social media, but it's not always reflected on the ground. I help look after both Bob Scott's and Corrour in the Cairngorms, two of the busiest - yet a couple of weekends ago I was there with a couple of other's from the Bob Scott's Bothy Association and we were the only ones there the whole weekend. Similarly, I've been at Corrour and seen it crammed, but also seen it empty at weekends (though sometimes with folk camped outside). Some of the more remote bothies seem to go weeks on end without a visitor. So, yes, there are occasional problems with abuse (very occasional in the most part) and if you turn up on the wrong weekend you can feel that bothies are getting over-run, but in many respects I think bothies are in as much danger from under-use as from over-use. Certainly a well-used bothy tends to have people who care about it and who visit fairly often, while the folk seeking a party venue tend to be put off by the prospect of having to share their rave with five grannies, a group of beardie Munroists and a family with small children.

I'm quite optimistic about the way bothies are going.

ScraggyGoat 15 Jul 2019
In reply to OMR:

'Change is a' coming'....but then again it always has been! 

I too can attest to the erratic nature of occupancy, but I'm not so optimistic particularly for some bothies, and fear the latest round of promotion will accelerate the timings and change.  Ultimately I'm a believer that bothies have 'a carrying capacity', above which problems, and disagreements with the estates are more likely (and between bothy users!).

Assuming we don't take carbon emissions seriously and continue with mass aviation tourism I can see more significant change in some locations well within my life-time.

 As ever it will ultimately be down to the estates; if, what and when anything happens.  Your efforts on Courror have probably been instrumental in mollifying any concerns the S NTS had for the short and medium term.

ScraggyGoat 15 Jul 2019

If you want a comedy story of unexpected bothy meetings.......................

Late one winters night a Highland laird, is passing his somewhat palatial bothy and see's its occupied, with noise emanating, which is not discernible as its whipped with the snow into the dark.  He has historically mixed feelings about the bothy being used, having endured problems, and has intermittently locked it. Fearing the worst, and knowing no-one has had the courtesy of asking if they could use it, he decides to enter and confront the occupants if necessary...........

.......................sitting by the fire are two ladies, one of more mature years, quietly singing in Gaelic.

Regaining his composure, he apologizes for not knocking, politely introduces himself and inquires as to their welfare, before bidding them good night.

A while later his Stalker knocks at the door to deliver a sack of logs, with the lairds compliments!

Post edited at 16:55
MonkeyPuzzle 15 Jul 2019
In reply to OwenM:

We'll always walk or paddle in, we leave them tidy and in one piece, try to leave firewood for the next people, but we also like to get shitfaced when we're there. I'm not sure which side of this I fall on.

OMR 15 Jul 2019
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

I have been known to drink to a degree which perhaps exceeds moderation. I don't think it makes me a bad person.

OMR 15 Jul 2019
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

In fact more than just mollify concerns. The MBA and BSBA have excellent relations with the NTS, who have expressed great satisfaction with the way the bothies on Mar Lodge Estate are run - to the extent we were permitted (against the estate's initial preferences) to renovate the Garbh Choire Refuge and - more - were actually invited to take over the currently ruinous Red House on the Geldie and turn it into a bothy. This work will hopefully be completed in 2020. I agree, some landowners may have their doubts, but I think the MBA is steering a responsible course and showing by example that problems can be overcome, and not over-reacting to problems that often have less substance than first appears.

olddirtydoggy 15 Jul 2019
In reply to OMR:

Does the drunk aka 'Manchester Ken' still frequent the Bob Scott?

MonkeyPuzzle 15 Jul 2019
In reply to OMR:

> I have been known to drink to a degree which perhaps exceeds moderation. I don't think it makes me a bad person.

Ace. I tell myself that all the time. We're on the same page.

In reply to OMR:

Must say I have mixed feelings about the Red House becoming a bothy. I quite like it as a quiet ruin. 

A bothy just encourages more folk. 

OMR 15 Jul 2019
In reply to olddirtydoggy:

Haven't seen or heard of him this year or last.

OMR 15 Jul 2019
In reply to Heartinthe highlands:

I don't think it had long to go as a quiet ruin before it fell down altogether. The estate was quite worried about it falling down while someone was dossing there.

In reply to OMR:

Yes. Understandable. 

StuDoig 16 Jul 2019
In reply to OMR:

I believe he died last year of the year before - we met a couple of similar types around Derry last year who claimed to know him and were searching for his bottle stash.......

OMR 16 Jul 2019
In reply to StuDoig:

Ach, he wasn't such a bad guy when he was sober. Knew his father too, and spent a few good New Years with him (the father) back in the eighties.

I'd have thought it fairly futile looking for Ken's bottle stash though - he'd always drunk everything he could get his hands on before he'd go home. Shame - he'd gotten to be quite a menace through the drink.

In reply to OMR:

Glad to hear you're doing something with the red house. I was a ranger at Mar Lodge a few years back and it was a ahake to see it derelict, it there were often unpleasant surprises waiting left by the desperate! 

Chris Sansum 16 Jul 2019
In reply to MrsBuggins:

I recall chatting to someone from a working party at a bothy, and they told me that anything made of wood which was left there for the use of occupants - tables, chairs etc ended up getting burnt on the fire - they were installing a metal table to get around this at the time, I seem to recall.

StuDoig 16 Jul 2019
In reply to OMR:

Aye a sociable guy when sober, unfortunately increasingly an angry drunk - quite a few bothy refugees to be found in the woods, the Hutchie or heading back to the car last time he was about.  Sad for all concerned at that stage.   Don't imagine he'd left much of his stash either!

ScraggyGoat 16 Jul 2019
In reply to StuDoig:

Probably none of his .....but I have a cunning plan...................time to train those mutts of yours to 'sniff out the angle's share' from every bothy's stash.

I think I can help with the training regime, if you could just let me have your whisky collection, I'll bury it  (cough), and you and the dawgs can start...............

olddirtydoggy 16 Jul 2019
In reply to OMR:

Good!

subtle 17 Jul 2019
In reply to OMR:

> In fact more than just mollify concerns. The MBA and BSBA have excellent relations with the NTS, who have expressed great satisfaction with the way the bothies on Mar Lodge Estate are run - to the extent we were permitted (against the estate's initial preferences) to renovate the Garbh Choire Refuge and - more - were actually invited to take over the currently ruinous Red House on the Geldie and turn it into a bothy. This work will hopefully be completed in 2020. I agree, some landowners may have their doubts, but I think the MBA is steering a responsible course and showing by example that problems can be overcome, and not over-reacting to problems that often have less substance than first appears.

Thanks for all your efforts, and of the other volunteers, for the work you put in maintaining, and building "new" bothies, it is appreciated.

(I still don't like staying at Bob Scott's though, too much of a "party" whenever I go)

StuDoig 18 Jul 2019
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

Hmmm sounds like a grand idea - If you can't trust a goat with your booze who can you trust.....

Maybe we should have QC evening first though to ensure it's of sufficient quality to motivate the hounds?

ScraggyGoat 18 Jul 2019
In reply to StuDoig:

I've just brought a Ledaig 18 year old.....sadly it's winging its way a South as a present.  Do you think the hounds could retrieve as well as point?

StuDoig 19 Jul 2019
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

if by "winging" you mean going via grouse then Melba is your dog for the job!


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