Curtains for the Hutchie

The refurbished Hutchison Memorial Hut, Coire Etchachan, Cairngorms

The finished Hutchison Hut, showing the new porch.

The Hutchison Hut is finished.

The cold hole of legend is gone, replaced with a warm and cosy hut which is dry and easy to heat and keep warm, where a night after a day’s climbing or walking can be enjoyed rather than endured.

First thing to notice, after the new roof and the flue sticking out of it, is that the old open porch area is now enclosed, with a new door facing down the glen. That means you can hang your sodden waterproofs up without flooding the floor inside the bothy. The porch is floored and insulated too.

Inside, the Hutchie is now fully insulated – floor, walls and roof – and is wood lined, with a new sleeping bench providing room for two on top and two below, with floorspace for another four or five without getting too cramped (you can keep rucksacks in the porch).

There is also the stove, of course, and if that gets too hot, then the new double-glazed window can open to let some fresh air in.

A double-glazed window which even boasts a pair of rather fetching tartan curtains. Posh? Not half.

Dod Thompson and Ian Shand prepare the curtains for the renovated Hutchison Memorial Hut in the Cairngorms

Domestic harmony: Dod Thompson and Ian ‘Piper’ Shand get the curtains ready to go up in the new Hutchie.

It’s all absolutely top hole, chaps and chapesses, but don’t imagine for a moment that it wasn’t without its troubles.

I spoke in earlier blogposts about the horrendous midges, but they were followed by storm and tempest.

One Thursday night the wind blew so fiercely that a large amount of material – old roofing sheets, insulation and wood – was scattered all over the glen, despite having been weighed down with rocks. Project manager Kenny Freeman even saw a concrete block fly through the air as it was flipped off a sheet of panelling it had been holding down.

The following day joint maintenance organiser Ian ‘Piper’ Shand spent about six hours collecting insulation and corrugated roofing, all the time fighting against the still strong winds. And the following weekend I retrieved another two roofing sheets and more insulation from half a mile away!

Roofing sheets recovered downwind of the Hutchison Hut in Coire Etchachan after the storm

Roofing sheets and insulation recovered from about half a mile downwind of the bothy after the storm.

On the whole though, given the remote location and the scale of the project, the whole operation went remarkably smoothly, due in no small part to the amount of forward planning which had gone into it, the existing skills of the core members, and the cumulative experience gained from similar projects at Bob Scott’s, Corrour, Fords of Avon and other locations. Under this direction, the work was completed by a diverse crew which took in people of many skills and none and still allowed all who wanted to make a positive contribution. The usual suspects were there, of course, but new volunteers turned up, a foreign visitor (who hadn’t been put off by helping last year at Fords of Avon) returned, and we even had a passing Duke of Edinburgh supervisor who took an hour or so out of his supervisory duties to lend a hand!

Everyone who contributed, both on site and in the considerable preparatory work, can justly be proud of what they have achieved. And if anyone using the new Hutchie Hut feels inspired – there’s always the next project.

Volunteers at the final Hutchison Hut work party in the Cairngorms

Volunteers at the final Hutchie workparty. Front row, from left: Kenny Freeman, project manager; Ian Shand, joint maintenance organiser; Dod Thompson. Back row, from left: John Frae Kent, Neil Reid, Dave Knowles, Kevin Campbell, Neil Findlay.

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29 Responses to Curtains for the Hutchie

  1. bullroar says:

    It looks stunningly good, well done to all involved. I look forward to a closer look.

  2. Should have mentioned: I was also asked to write an article on the renovation for the UKHillwalking website. You can see more photos there –

  3. Congratulations on all your hard work coming together, it looks really nice. I hope the people who use it in the future all respect it and use it in the correct ethos.

  4. neil findlay says:

    good article neil.look forward to going back up in a couple of weeks just to chill out but no doubt we will find some wee job to do.neil f

  5. jamescarron says:

    The new hut look superb. Congratulations on all your hard work, I am sure it will be much appreciated. Can’t wait to visit.

  6. Looks like a fantastic place to stay, you’ve done a great job.

    • Hi Callum and James, appreciate your comments but, just for the avoidance of any doubt, I did all the writing and just a wee bit of the work. A lot of people were involved and some of the guys worked their butts off.

  7. John Arnott says:

    Fantastic! Well done everybody involved.
    John Arnott

  8. David Albon says:

    Hi Neil! you guys have done a great job in challenging conditions and the Hutchie looks great!!!

    Sue & I were pleased to meet three of the team at the hut when passing by earlier in September. Then we came across Ian & Kenny heading up from Glen Derry (with ‘the key’ and liquid refreshment!). Later that evening we met three more (including the other Neil) at Bob Scotts, where we were all safe from the midgies!!!

    PS We visited Fords of Avon a couple of days later – a huge improvement since we’d last visited in May 2009. Again, Well done and thank you!

    • Hi David, sounds like you met most of the main culprits, some of whom are only allowed out of the cupboard when it’s time to bang in some nails. Glad you’ve enjoyed the bothies – you’ll have to try Corrour next! 🙂

  9. derek1958 says:

    Where did you fit the bath ?

    Did you get my Needle story?

    All the best. D


    • Hi Derek, there was no room for a bath and planning turned down the jaccuzi, so we had to make do with a shower – every bloody Friday night when I was walking in in the dark!
      What Needle story?

      • dere58 says:

        Manged to get up the Needle in mid Sept this year. Wahoo ! Fell off the 5b pitch, but a superb, blue sky day for it. It has only taken circa 30 years

      • Dunno what that has to do with the Hutchie Derek, but great news. I suppose that lets me off the hook – I seem to recall you trying to persuade me we should do it many years ago.

  10. Martin Rye says:

    Fantastic job folks and well done.

  11. George Adams says:

    The hut looks fantastic , your efforts has inspired me to start saving for a ski mountaineering trip to the mountains of my youth.

  12. Niel Craig says:

    Was up at the hut for a couple of nights last weekend. You’ve done a fabulous job. I last stayed there some 25 years ago and all I remember was a damp, cold hole with a dirt floor that stank of piss and puke. What a difference. Well done. Intrested to see your comments on UKH that suggest 7 to 9 could stay in relative comfort. I’d love to see the floor plan for that :¬). Would suggest some instructions for the 2 controls on the stove might be a useful addition at some point. Great job.

    • Hi Neil, Glad you liked the place. My 7-9 was a guess, as I haven’t measured it out, but was based on two people sleeping on the bench, two sleeping under the bench (it’s been tried already), and then four or five sleeping on the floor parallel to the door wall. I slept five in the bothy that way many years ago and, although the stove will take up some space, we weren’t too cramped at all that time – and, of course, you can keep the rucksacks in the porch now. I’m sure the coming months will see various floor plans tried out! 🙂

  13. George Adams says:

    Did you know that in Sth Australia at a crag called Moonarie there is a climb called Etchachan Chimney.

  14. Václav says:

    Hi, Neil! Great job, everyone!!

    I’m sorry I couldnt make it for the final touches: couldnt find anyone to give me lift;=( Anyway, the curtains look a wee bit posh–is the bothy still free of charge;=D? Btw had a bottle of 12-yr-old Glenfiddich ready to go which was subsequently “wasted” at a BBQ; maybe next time.

    • Hi Vaclav, sorry I couldn’t make it in by to pick you up – but you’d only have got upset about the curtains. See you up the road soon,

      • Václav says:

        No bother, man. At least I got to walk a bit of the Cateran trail (from Blair to Alyth) with my sister; though I was staring towards Braemar all the time;=) Hope to see you soon, all the best,

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