Looking after the bothies. Why bother?

Corrour Bothy in the Lairig Ghru, Cairngorms

Corrour Bothy

Sometimes you really do wonder just why you bother.

Neil Findlay on way to Corrour Bothy, Cairngorms, with new toilet seat

Neil Findlay carries in the new seat

Up at Corrour Bothy again, the plan was for Neil Findlay and I to replace a broken toilet seat and do a quick repair to the stove, then I would head round to the furthest reaches of the Garbh Choire and explore the snowfields, which would be approaching their smallest before the winter gets going.

But now I was seriously wondering why I spend so much time on this bothy.

It wasn’t the fact that the toilet bag needed changing already. It wasn’t that there seemed to be a population explosion of flies in the inner section of the toilet block.

It wasn’t discovering that the plastic box which sits under the storage rail to catch drips from newly hung bags was literally crawling with ill-defined creatures and in serious need of scrubbing out, or even deciding that the drip tray under the ‘live’ bags needed cleaning too and, in fact the whole floor of the back section needed scrubbing down.

Sure, it all took a couple of not very pleasant hours to do and I’d had to say goodbye to plans for the Garbh Choire, but it wasn’t that.

Toilet at Corrour Bothy, Glen Dee, Cairngorms

The twin toilet seats at Corrour

It wasn’t even when Neil Findlay pointed out that the steel tubes under the loo seats were minging. No, I kept calm even when down on my knees before the cludgies (there are two seats and two tubes to clean – one wouldn’t be enough) scrubbing away at dried-in faeces with a j-cloth, with my head almost down the tube and trying not to stare at the all too fresh pile of turds and bog roll in the bag below. Even though this wasn’t how I ever envisaged spending my birthday, I never questioned what I was doing there.

What finally broke me was the black bag.

The toilet was changed, mended and scrubbed into submission. The collar to fix the flue to the stove was in place and a new coat of stove paint applied (Neil F’s work). I’d even been sung ‘Happy Birthday’ by a nice group of DofE Award kids.

But then came the bag.

We’d seen it when we arrived: a black polythene rubbish sack hanging from a hook on the wall, obviously pretty full of rubbish. We knew that we’d have to go through it all and burn what we could and carry out the bottles and tins, along with the various bits and pieces left on the shelf: a festival tent, plastic bags, plastic cutlery (some used), a couple of tent pegs, a mess tin full of shredded and burnt tinfoil…

So I sat in front of the now lit stove and started pulling out wrappers, fag packets, polythene bags – the usual. Only the smell from the sack was pretty pungent, and getting worse.

First I came across the bag of lettuce. Well past its sell-by date. Then half a pack of sushi, a long way past being edible. There was half a banana: the suppurating brown parts were the healthiest-looking. By this time I was gagging. Most of a half pound of butter came next. And the finale was a something wrapped in tinfoil which no-one would look at long enough to attempt an identification and which I couldn’t bear to smell any longer.

What, really, was it all about?

Up here probably at least once a month and the same shit every time. Change toilet bags filled with shit and then come into the bothy to burn and carry out even more shit: shit left by selfish, lazy bastards who know damned well the council bin lorry doesn’t come up this way; filthy buggers who make bothies unfit for the people who come after them; dirty arseholes who don’t care that they make the bothy smell foul, that someone else has to deal with their waste, who don’t care if someone has to give up a hill day just so long as they don’t need to bother picking up after themselves.

And then, I really did wonder. Why – I – fucking – bother.

It was after four in the afternoon. I’d been  up since seven, walking in to Corrour and then housekeeping all day. That was finished but it was going to be a long night. So I pulled on a jacket and headed up the back of the bothy to do the Devil’s Point, the first steep pull good for stamping out some anger, setting a fast, leg-burning pace. As the angle eased into the lovely hanging coire with its arms coming out to enclose a lush green sanctuary, a little calm returned to both pace and temper.

Finally, on the zig-zags up the coire headwall, aware of the steepness of the ground, of the boulders and rocks casting long shadows in the lowering sunlight, of a covey of ptarmigan contouring  white-winged round the rugged coire wall and of the vast space enclosed and the vaster spaces beyond, I remembered why I was there.

Coire Odhar and Cairn Toul, Cairngorms

Looking across the top of Coire Odhar to Cairn Toul

Crossing the burn just below the lip of the coire, a few more feet took me out into the wide open spaces of the flat col  between Cairn Toul and the Devil’s Point, and a short wander due south allowed me to look over into the abyss of Glen Geusachan and the sun-burnished slabs of Beinn Bhrotain, shafts of sunlight pillaring the hazy atmosphere.

Sunlight in Glen Geusachan, Cairngorms

Shafts of sunlight shine into Glen Geusachan

Just yards from the summit cairn my phone suddenly burst into life with birthday texts from my wife and sister and, by the time I stepped those few paces past the summit cairn I was looking almost straight down over a thousand feet to see a group of kids arriving, all relief and excitement, at the best wee bothy in Scotland.

So why do I bother?

Lots of reasons really. Sometimes I tell people it’s because I’ve used the bothies all my life and it’s about time I ‘put something back’. Corrour was, after all, where almost half a century ago my father introduced me to that unique Scottish bothy culture where every man was your neighbour and no-one was left needing. So that’s true, maybe. Pride, certainly: pride that I, a wee bauchle who knew this iconic bothy when it was four bare walls, a roof and an earthen floor, have been able to help others more skilled than I to turn it into an exemplar of modern bothy culture and am entrusted to help look after it.

It’s for the craic, too. The craic and the company, for they’re a rare gang of folk who look after the bothies – like-minded hill gangrels with years of experience and tales to tell and share – and the Cairngorms crew are the best of all. (Although many trips to work on Corrour are solitary ones, and the friends I have made are true whether I remain MO or not.)

The gratitude of my fellow hill walkers and climbers is nice too. It would be a lie to say I’m not chuffed when someone says well done, when people who have enjoyed a night’s comfortable shelter and perhaps a dram and a tale or two around the fire say thanks for all the good work.

But, at heart, it’s because it is a chance, however small, to make a difference. By walking a few miles into the hills I love and doing a few hours of work, I can make a small part of the world a better place than it was. For the very existence of a bothy is a defiant subversion of the dog-eat-dog world of business and politics. Maintaining a place of refuge and shelter in the wilderness, open and free for all people to come together as strangers and share each other’s company as friends, to help one-another and share tales and experiences, is a proud assertion and reminder of humanity in a world where humanity too often seems in danger of being overwhelmed by fear and greed.

To be able to help in work like that is a privilege and a gift. How could anyone say no?

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75 Responses to Looking after the bothies. Why bother?

  1. Nonie Horsman says:

    Wow!! Pure dead brilliant. And thanks!

    • padonbike says:

      So this is the famous article that caused so much distress to a mummy’s boy and his granny? (recent MBA magazines)
      I know who I’d rather spend a night in a bothy with! Keep up the good work Neil and long may your spirit for the mountains and the bothies keep steering its true course.

  2. John Bygate says:

    Great stuff Neil, leaves little doubt about what our volunteers do at Corrour(and other Bothies) why dont you put it in the newsletter.

  3. Tom Cunningham says:

    A master wordsmith Neil, terrific writing and what a strong stomach. Time to put up discreet CCTV systems & signs (sometimes just the signs work) and catch the dirty bastards!

    • Aaargh! Tom, the day CCTV (or even the threat) appears in bothies is the day I walk away for good – after ripping out the cameras. My whole post was meant to say that the existence of bothies as a subversion of and antidote to our greed and fear-dominated society was so important that dealing with the irresponsibility of some users was a price worth paying. Put CCTV in and the whole thing ceases to become a precious part of our culture and becomes just another commodity to be bought and sold.

  4. The first time I ever used a bothy, I found a kitchen full of empty beer cans and bottles. It was ridiculous. People who could be bothered lugging heavy full cans, couldn’t be bothered at all to carry back the lightweight empties. But I guess the least that can be said was that bottles don’t smell that much… But it does make you wonder what goes on in the minds of such people.

    • Presume they’re the same people whose mothers/wives are always moaning about having to pick up after. People who have never grown up properly and are unable to take responsibility for their own actions.

  5. Johnels says:

    It’s heartwarming that there are people like you who volunteer to maintain bothies and so sad that people with enough gumption to get to them don’t have enough gumption to respect the volunteers’ efforts. Hopefully, education is the key, and forthright tales like this will have some effect. Good on ya, baey!

  6. Andy Mayhew says:

    What a brilliant piece! Thanks Neil.

    I wonder myself when I turn up at the bothy and it’s been trashed, again ……. But other times I turn up and the place is immaculate and it’s obvious that so many users really do appreciate the bothy and the fact it is there for them and even love the place (nearly) as much as I do. The sun is shining, birds are singing, the first snows dust the distant hills, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world …… I wouldn’t want to live in a world where bothies did not exist – even if I could no longer get to them myself. And all the work is worth it for that alone.

    And yes, would love to use that in the Newsletter :)

    • Cheers Andy. If you do use it I might send you a piece to add as a sidebar. Natural wastage has meant the rota for the bag change (which isn’t usually so traumatic as in my article!!) has dropped below what’s comfortable, so it would be nice if we could recruit an extra couple of bodies. If you email me with deadlines I can get something through to you.
      Likewise, if anyone on here wants to lend a hand…?

  7. Simon says:

    Sorry to hear about this Neil, but not unfortunately desperately surprised.

    I was once up at the Eccles bivouac hut high in the Alps (very high – 3850m), very remote, the only access over steep glaciated terrain and at least 7-8 hour approach. This really is a life-saver for someone caught out in a storm in fierce remote mountain circumstances, as well as the start point for a lot of hard routes. The only people who could possibly get there are climbers as it is far from any cablecar.

    The place was filthy and packed with abandoned rubbish. Empty gas cylinders, half eaten food, broken bits of climbing gear – there were even several plastic black bags packed to the brim with junk and filth. In addition, someone had failed to shut the door properly so there was a 6 inch deep lump of ice on the floor.

    It would be nice to think that climbers and hillgoers look after and respect the wilderness, unfortunately it is far from true in many cases.

    Just to make you feel (a little) better, after I reported this, 2 Italian guides gave up a day’s pay and went up with big rucksacks to the hut just to clean it up and carry as much rubbish out as they could. When I was back this year, it was better than before, but still showing signs of reverting to previous disgusting state.

  8. Rab says:

    Aye, a great wee story. Good for you Neil, well done. However, I’ve got to nit-pick! The bit about “-and the Cairngorms crew are the best of all”. This isn’t 100% correct. The Cairngorms crew might be the best in the east, but it is in fact the Southern Scotland team that’s the best in the west!!

  9. Vandalism has being going on a long time. Its heart-breaking reading about the Cairngorm Bothies that have been lost as long a go as the 1940s due to misuse. I remember the Grampian Transport Hillwalking club had a bothy in the eastern Cairngorms closed in the 1990s due to raves, alcohol etc.

    Corrour will always be very popular due to its location and fame. On my last trip past that way there were large groups of school children camped all around it. Its an iconic place no question of that.

    Not been in the ‘Gorms for some time but having seen recent pics of the Hutchie and Fords of Avon they both look great so congratulations to all those making the effort it is much appreciate.

    What’s the update on the wee Bothy up by Braeriach…there was some dispute about whether to renovate or not??

    • Hi Neil. I always understood the alleged raves and alcohol were just an excuse and that there were other politics behind that closure.
      The Garbh Choire Refuge is still in a poor state or repair. MBA is willing to step in and do the work and future maintenance, but Mar Lodge Estate, owned by the National Trust for Scotland (which is meant to look after our heritage) keeps putting things off. I get the feeling that they want it demolished but don’t want a fight and are just hoping we lose interest and go away. But that’s me. :)

      • I never stayed in Garbh Choire but spent a night camped beside it once c. 20 years ago. It wasn’t particularly inviting then compared to a tent. Having said that there is great history there it would a tragedy for it to be removed especially if there is a willingness to look after the place from MBA.

        Will MCofS get involved lobbying NTS?

  10. areteroute says:

    Neil, the bag was put up by two German boys who were walking to Breamar. I spent the same night as them in the bothy (last Wednesday) before I walked out via the Devils point to Breariach range the following day. I informed them of bothy rules and they promised that they would be carrying out the bag when they left. I was up and away very early the next morning with the hope that they lived up to their promise. I am disgusted that they didn’t and I am sorry that I wasn’t more forceful about the situation. I, of course, carried out my own rubbish! Thanks for another great blog and thanks more for your service to our bothies!

    Cheers Pete

    • Thanks for the info Pete. If that rubbish was put in the sack just last Wednesday their rucksacks must have been stinking – it was well mouldy. Most foreign visitors are a joy and appreciate the bothies: I suppose this just shows there are tossers overseas as well as at home. :(

  11. alan holmes says:

    Neil, I spent a great night at Corrour almost 2 years ago. I remember it well and I gave silent thanks to those like yourself who maintain the bothy, and its spirit & make the experience possible. I can only hope that by your efforts in the field & in print that awareness & consideration will drop into otherwise empty heads some day. Rest assured, there are vastly more appreciative people of your efforts than the few ignorami for whom we can only have pity. And disgust.

  12. Great article Neil. Equally, thank you to both yourself and the many others who help keep our Bothies maintained- very much appreciated

  13. A wee bit pissed off there Neil ?

    • Just a little, Chris. But what a lot of people are missing is that I worked through the anger to figure out why I did carry on with the bothies, which reaffirmed my faith in what they are and what they represent, and reminded me – quite seriously – how lucky I am to be doing this. I looked on this as a very positive post.

      • Altruism at its best, you must tell me what it feels like sometime :-). I never thought it was moaning for the sake of it, I ken ye better than that but I do admire your ability to put up with the wankers that trash and pollute these wee hooses.

  14. Martin Rye says:

    We salute the guardians of the bothies Neil like you. Tireless devotion to the Scottish bothy culture, the times we enjoy the meeting of folk like you and tales shared. To lose that would be tragic! and take from the hills something that you cannot find any-place else. Well written as always, and well said Neil.

  15. Sinbad says:

    Excellent article Neil. Sums up why we do it.

  16. Allison Robertson says:

    Maintaining the bothies certainly sounds like a lot of hard work and although there will always be the people who don’t care, there will be many, many more who really appreciate the work that you do.
    Keep up the good work, the wild places of Scotland wouldn’t be the same without it bothies!

  17. Andy Mayhew says:

    Aye, that’s what I liked Neil – that last paragraph is superb and says it all for me.

    btw having email problems atm but deadline for winter newsletter isn’t until mid November. I agree it’s time we had something in it to encourage more folk to help with the toilet!

  18. Rachel Adams says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you :0)

  19. Briliantly written Neil. This should be printed out, laminated and stuck on the back of every bothy cludgie door in Scotland!

  20. Double seats in a loo?! I’ve seen plenty of examples in Scandanavia of that too (one with even a row of five in a reindeer herders’ hut); myself it’s too private a moment.

    I’ll enjoy this blog. I love the Cairngorms, I even dream about them sometimes …

    • Don’t fret. Only one seat is in use at a time, while the other is locked shut to let the contents settle and dry out a bit.Your dump will remain a private moment, with not even a reindeer herder for company. :)

  21. Chris Muir says:

    Neil,
    I was in said Bothy with the DofE group with you on Saturday night and I say again now what I said to you and the other Neil then, that you guys do a cracking job and without people like yourselves we wouldn’t have these fine shelters and fine evenings with a bunch of strangers. I admire you both a lot for what you do and enjoyed sharing a dram with you and hearing your stories at the weekend.

    Cheers

    Chris

    • Hah! THat’s only until the 15th time you’ve met us and have heard the same stories so many times you know them better than we do. :)
      We may moan, but we only do it because we love it.
      Hope to see you up there again sometime.

    • DofE groups, in a Bothy ?? They must be soft up in Scotland.

      • Not quite. The bairns aren’t allowed to stay in the bothies (DofE orders, not MBA’s), but it tests their mettle to sit in a tent hearing the noise of a party and looking through the rain at the light shining out of the bothy window and the smoke rising from the chimney. I’m never sure whether they camp near bothies because it’s a safety thing or because the leaders/assessors/grown-ups like to get away from them and come in for the craic. :)

  22. areteroute says:

    On the theme of the toilets I have to say I enjoy using the Corrour one with the door open taking in the views. Does that make me weird? Thanks for liking my blog BTW!

    Cheers

    Pete

  23. John says:

    Blown through the bothy door when the wind-chill is -17, I always give thanks to those who provide these stout walls and roof. I’ve often feel grateful to the people who leave useful items for the next person who comes along, like candles and firelighters and try to do the same in turn. The low points have been finding a crap, eight (8) paces from the front door of Kinbreack bothy, and crap against the outside walls at Shenavall and Uags. Some of the racier poetry which appears on the inside walls is certainly educational though.

  24. Paul says:

    I have been using this bothy too this summer. It was crowded, but I still had some place to rest. Although the next day was supposed to be one of most challenging in my life (15h50min duration, over 42km length and +3200m of ascent hike, carrying not-so-light rucksack), I had no doubts whether I could leave something useless behind. Few nights before I used another bothy next to Loch Callater and I spend some time refilling large water bottle and I was about to fill that barrel for hand-washing, etc. What I found out inside was a beer can, a toy and some other filthy stuff which was not supposed to be there! I was wondering at that moment why would someone put these things there… Now I regret I did not bring all that stuff to nearest rubbish bin (probably in car park or Braemar, to which I walked on my own). I am looking forward to my first work party next Spring/Summer (I am full-time student and I have a part-time job, so it’s very difficult to find couple of spare days in a row), though.

    Thanks everyone who lets any of us use these great bothies. And I am really sorry for these people who makes that mess… On the other hand, we do not notice people who look after bothies.

    • Cheers, Paul. If you fancy turning up at a work party you’ll be made very welcome – and they’re always fun weekends. You can check the MBA site or keep an eye on the ukbothies forum – links to both at the side of this page.
      Neil

  25. Trevor Cotton says:

    Hi Neil,
    Thanks for putting into words what many of us have felt (over the last 25 years in my case) when we turn up at our bothies to find them trashed. We do it because we care and because we hope that when we turn up at a bothy on a Friday night at 1am, after a long walk in, we find it habitable.
    keep up the good work!
    Trevor Cotton

  26. John Watson says:

    A heartfelt blog there neil. Why do we bother? simple,because we care.

  27. Heather Morning says:

    Hi Neil, Really touched by your blog and your wrestle with just ‘why do you do it’ – it is such a thankless task at times. I have never ever been able to understand the mentality of folk who leave litter in the hills. I can only guess that the reason they go to the hills is very far removed from why many of use go there to enjoy the beauty of nature. Selfish bastards is too kind a words to describe these people who threaten the very existence of the culture of mountain bothies. If it wasn’t for the small army of like minded folk like yourself, the privilege we all share in the mountains would have been lost forever in modern society’s greed and selfishness. Heather Morning

    • Thanks Heather. The response from everyone has been really touching and I’ve been a bit taken aback to be honest. It’s been a great reminder that the litter louts are just a tiny (if aggrevating) minority.
      Oh, and I’ve just seen a pile of photos with the evidence – you seem to have done a fair bit of bothy litter removal yourself! :)

  28. ian shand says:

    Again , great article Neil . I do not think there has been a time , when i have went up to change the toilet bag , that i have not had to burn , / take out others litter / and other crap !!. At Easter time , when i went up by , i spent a good two hours just segregating rubbish left by others ,before i even thought about tackling the toilet duties . YES ,it does piss me off , some day i will catch then oot , and look oot !!

  29. MannyG says:

    I hope words of thanks from the majority overwhelmingly make up for the minority tossers – I take my hat of to all the MO’s. I tend to avoid bothies in summer just for this reason, but even in winter usually end up taking out or cleaning up crap. Keep it going guys, very well done.

  30. Emma says:

    I would like to add to all those who have already expressed their thanks and appreciation for all your hard work. You are a star and I wish many happy days in the hills.

    • Thanks Emma and I’ll accept your good wishes on behalf of the many folk who are involved at all levels in looking after Corrour and all the other bothies, both formally and informally. The whole bothy system only works because so many people care, both volunteers and users.

  31. Thomas Mills says:

    A big thanks to you Neil and all the people that give so generously of their time to make the bothies habitable.

  32. neil findlay says:

    good old blog neil..meby time to more forcefully enforce the unofficial “bothy rules” throughout all the different groups that use the bothies.unfortunately corrour and the hutchie are also covered in graffiti from DOE groups and other individuals.i have often thought of photographing the said graffiti and sending the evidence to the DOE.but of course I probably wont.bet bob scott would have kicked someones arse if he found them messing about.neil findlay

  33. Maybe worth writing to the DofE and telling them we’re going to put out a press release about how their kids deface bothies. Might see some response from them then.

  34. John Toms says:

    Well done. :clap:

    I haven’t used a bothy vernight yet only for lunch stop. But would never dream of leaving my mess for someone else to clean up, sounds like a couple of spoilt people using it, maybe they should introduce a members only policy.

    Do you know name of shelter between Creag Leacach Glas Maol

    • Hi John, it’s about time you packed a sleeping bag and stayed at a bothy – some great nights, whether in company or on your own. The whole point of bothies, though, is that they are open and free to all, so the answer is in trying to educate people, not exclude them.
      As for the shelter you ask about, I’m not aware of anything between Glas Maol and Creag Leacach, and was along that ridge just a few weeks ago. There is a building on the crest of the ridge parallel to the GM/CL ridge, between there and the A93, which I’ve been told is open. I think it has something to do with the ski company, but not sure. Can’t say it looked a very handy place for a bothy though.

  35. Ralph Boehme says:

    As a german hillwalker who enjoyed Scotland’s highlands umpteen times, always carrying a tent, never useing bothies, I like to say: thank you!

    • You should drop in by, even for the evening. Bothies are great place to stretch the legs and ease the back when you’re spending a lot of time in a tent – and the company’s often good. You can get a lot of local knowledge, too.

  36. John Toms says:

    If you scroll down to second last photo you’ll see shelter only fit about if I remember right and definitely not rainproof. http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=16418

  37. Really fantastic that you keep putting in all that effort in Neil, especially after turning up to find the place a mess.
    I think most walkers are very considerate and follow the simple bothy guidelines about leaving the place as you would hope to find it.
    A pity there are the odd few about with no sense of respect.
    Keep up the good work.
    BTW I’ve added your site to my blogroll, hope that’s OK?
    Paul

  38. What a brilliant piece of writing – straight from the heart. WELL DONE Neil in respect of what you do to ‘give something back’ to the bothy culture you first experienced but equally well done in articulating so beautifully why others who use the bothies NEED to give more thought and respect to their actions – so that the bothies are there for the next, and the next person to use and benefit from. Your actions are making a difference, this article touched me (a complete stranger) and I am now going to pass it on to many others through my Facebook page. My dad taught me that we should ‘try’ to leave the world a better place than the one we were born in to – I don’t know if that can be achieved but certainly, I think it is always worth trying – TRYING to do what we can to make a difference (large or small, as long as we go through life and try to do our best to make that difference). Thanks so much for your inspirational and heart warming account – your birthday did not turn out to be as you had expected and yes, you may never know just how much these words of yours will ripple out but – your time was well spent – you did make a difference. And, thanks :-) I will repost your blog to my page and, if you wish, you will be able to see what comments people will make. Kind regards, Shona McMillan http://www.facebook.com/shonamcmillan.celticreflections

  39. dtse3 says:

    Well done for all your hard work , considering the heavy use the bothy is getting would a composting toilet be a way forward ? I’m sure if you put up a paypal address in bothy you would get (voluntary) contributions to something like that ?

    • The existing toilet was built as a composting toilet (see the page for Corrour – http://cairngormwanderer.wordpress.com/the-bothies/corrour-bothy/ ) but composting toilets still need bags changed over. The situation is, however, that the level of use means the bags have to be changed about once a month in summer, which means the storage area where they could compost down is not big enough, so once a year the bags have to be taken out to further down the glen where there is facility for them to compost down. There were very strict conditions laid down on the size and type of toilet possible because the bothy is in the middle of the Cairngorm National Park and the toilet was, in any case, built through donations to the Mountain Bothies Association, which looks after about 100 bothies around Scotland. The real issue is maintaining enough volunteers able and willing to travel the distance to the bothy to do that maintenance. We’re currently recruiting through the MBA and have no real fears that we’ll get the help we need. I think the real plea in this post was for people to be more considerate about not leaving their rubbish and unwanted equipment in the bothy (or in any bothy, come to that).

  40. dtse3 says:

    Thanks , understood , I recently used a composting toilet in a lodge in northern canada but it was off a very different construction & requested that you check something that looked like wood shavings down it after each use. Totally agree re packing rubbish out , if we find rubbish on a campsite we use we try & remove it if we can. As the saying goes take nothing but photographs leave nothing but footprints.

  41. peter aikman says:

    The DoE came past the door of a well-known west-coast bothy too.
    We have been in touch.
    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5514/10965737113_8b70198750_z.jpg

    • Hi Peter, have to stick up for the DofE here. There may be the odd lapse but on the whole they’re pretty well behaved and actually a good example to a lot of folk who should know better. Also, I love to see young folk being given an introduction to the hills.

  42. Peter Aikman says:

    Agree – this was a one-off, but we had to act. The DoE has been a great scheme in giving youngsters a taste of the hills.
    The positive reaction to your piece is the second reason why we do it. And its not that the praise comes back to you personally ( because you have never met these folk ). Its knowing that in the hillwalking community there is a groundswell of appreciation for what you have done.

  43. Richard says:

    I came to this rather later in the day, having read your ‘reply letter’ in the MBA Newsletter (Summer 2014), but feel obliged to support your original sentiment in the first instance, and written style in the second.
    So much of my work as a teacher, both in the classroom and out of it, turns on ‘discretionary effort’ and I resent it bitterly when management, parents and/or pupils seem to unthinkingly take it for granted, even crowing about successes that they had next to no hand in creating, never mind any idea just how hard or even nasty some of that work was.
    Which brings me to the way that you expressed that anger. There is a lot of cant rehearsed about the use of blunt, direct, frank (call it what you will) language. Carefully placed, there is simply nothing like the leverage that a sweary word or two has in getting an audience’s attention as well as powerfully venting honest emotion, or indeed empathetic humour.
    Share this with Andy Mayhew if you wish. I feel better that others travel the same road and that it can be said out loud (even if I know it will make not one jot of difference). I too find relief in the magnificence of the hills, rivers and lochs that can be so heeling at need.
    Just the play of evening sunlight on a lichen smothered boulder can make all that shit worthwhile.

    • Thanks for the support, Richard. I think there was only that one complaint (in the MBA mag), and even he disagreed with the language rather than the sentiment, but I suppose, given that I used the sweerie wordies to shock, I shouldn’t be upset that someone was shocked. :)

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