Refurb at the Tarf Hotel

Work party at the Tarf Hotel, Cairngorms

Working outside during a break in the rain

Just back from a busy weekend at the Tarf Hotel.

Officially known as Feith Uaine, its time honoured and better known name comes from its location – by the Tarf – and the bizarre presence of a large and somewhat aged AA Hotel sign fixed to the door.

This weekend was the first of two work parties designed to undertake some major work at the bothy.

I arrived on Friday evening with Kenny Freeman, with dispensation from the estate to drive as far as Forest Lodge. There we were met by Ricky Marshall, who’s the Tarf MO, and Lorne, one of the volunteers, who was driving an estate Land Rover.

We were to get a lift not just up the zigzag track from the Tilt to the upper Tarf, but right to the door of the bothy, a journey in equal parts nerve-wracking, gobsmacking and uncomfortable. The zigzag track gives vertiginous views back down to the Tilt, while the journey along the Tarf, with no track and frequent river crossings showed the improbable terrain a Land Rover can negotiate.

Good fun now and then, but I’m not getting rid of my walking boots.

A dozen or so volunteers were at the bothy for the weekend.

Frequent showers meant unpleasant working conditions for those up on the roof putting in new chimney pots and for those mixing cement and applying it in much-needed repointing for the chimney wall of the end porch.

Laying a new floor in the Tarf Hotel bothy, Cairngorms

Laying the new floor in the west room

On the basis of a proven ability to hammer in nails with at least a 50 per cent success rate, I managed to attach myself to Kenny Freeman’s joinery squad and, over a day and a half five of us ripped up the dodgy floors in the two main rooms and relaid them with new tongue and groove flooring. The knees are still suffering, but at least I kept dry!

New fireplace at Tarf Hotel, Cairngorms

One of the new fireplaces at Tarf Hotel

Other work included two new fireplaces (in the ‘porch’ room at the east end and in the small middle room) courtesy of Neil Findlay with assistance from Davey Knowles.

We were kept fed through it all by Allan and Stan, with Andy multi-tasking by playing guitar and singing in the evenings, boasting a seemingly endless repertoire.

All in all a great weekend in good company, despite the weather. Another work party is planned for next weekend.

Music in the bothy at night. At the Tarf Hotel, Cairngorms

Chef turned musician: Allan entertained the workers in the evening. (Is that a music stand we see? In a bothy?)

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9 Responses to Refurb at the Tarf Hotel

  1. andrew baron says:

    Great place it was my first bothy adventure about 18 years ago.One easter we where doing the munro in a white out near by,snowing and high winds.We just pitched the tent as best we could at about 21 30 hours,to wild to cook.The next morning weather had cleared we came near the bothy and realised.We new exactly where we where in the wrong valley made navigation error in whiteout.Only to say that we spent the next 15 hours in the bothy chilling and eating.
    It was great to find a shelter in those conditions
    Will definitely have to do a planned visit the future and see the improvements

    • Good to hear the bothy served you so well. Hopefully it’ll be more comfortable for folk in the future. I think some more sleeping benches are planned for the rooms we put the new floors in. Not sure what other work is set for next weekend.

  2. Tom Cunningham says:

    Fantastic work. Team work makes the dream work.

  3. Ricky Marshall says:

    Tarf Update

    All remaining troops out safely with some adventure with the Landie and Ranger through the river crossings

    Tremendous effort by all involved and I thank all of you for your time and hard work

    The next trip in is this Friday the 28th June meeting at the Tilt carpark at 17.00 Hrs with escape likely/possible on the Monday 1st July

    We still have a fair bit of work to do on the walls with pointing etc, If anyone other than those that have adised their attendance wishes to go please let me know so we can arrange transport etc

    Ricky 01738 643642

    • Thanks for the update, Ricky, and glad you got the vehicles out okay. I won’t manage this weekend, but if you let me know afterwards how everything went I’ll put an update on here.

  4. Colin Campbell says:

    Hello Neil,
    I supposed that the MBA will take on that other bothy in Glen Tilt ‘Balaneasie Cottage’, which the MBA under Bernard Heath was going to renovate in 1966. Until, the newly formed ‘Glen Tilt Mountaineering Club’, got permission from Atholl Estates to renovate it & use it as a Club Hut from Tom Stewart, the Estate Factor.

    The rent as I can recall was the glorious sum of £2.00 a year. I was the first secretary of the club, a post I held for 4 years, though I still paid the rent right up to 1976.
    What happened after that was anyone’s guess (I’d still like to know/though). Where did they go, or what happened in the end.?

    I visited ‘Tarf Hotel’, sometimes for a number of years, also stayed overnight a few times (I loved the solitude) Winter, where on a quiet day would hear no sound and yet when spring/summer came the sounds of the Dotterels, wheatears and other mountain birds made it a place to stay. The AA signs were there in 1961 when I first visited, I’d really like to go and see it again as my last visit to Tarf was in 1988. But, as I mentioned in one early posts, ‘Beware of the Damp’, sleeping in too many damp places gave me the dreaded arthritis.
    PS. Is Bernard still alive, as I lost touch with him in 1980.
    Regards Colin

    • Cheers Colin. Don’t know of any other buildings in use as bothies in the Tilt now – maybe one for the MBA historians. Hopefully all the work that’s been done at the Tarf this last two weekends and in recent years will do something to address the chronic damp. It certainly feels better even in the main rooms, and the ‘sun porch’ at the east end is now enclosed and dry. A great place if you like solitude, though perhaps not during the work party, with all the vehicles about!

  5. Calum Anton says:

    Extract from mountain diary dated 17/18 March 1988:
    Ruigh-aiteachain – Blair Atholl : ski tour.
    “The exhilaration of the long 3 mile run off An Scarchoch is really increased when one finally runs out of snow, by the sheer contrast of change. Only minutes before one was on a cold, exposed mountain top, and now here you are by a chattering burn with grassy banks, and grouse clucking in the heather nearby and of course it seems about 10 degrees warmer.

    Picked our way by various devious tongues of snow, to the Tarf bothy beside the river of the same name. I had over the years made enquiries about this bothy as to whether it might by OK for overnight stay on this trip – I’m glad it wasn’t seriously considered, the place is a mess. A snow cave is anyway much more flexible in both where and when you want to stop for the night.

    The bothy seems to be being heavily vandalised by people stripping out all the linings for firewood and by being neglected generally. I’m sure that if MBA had been given responsibility for it some years ago, it would still be a good bothy but I shouldn’t imagine that the Estate would have agreed to that. Consequently with no-one apparently maintaining it, the ignorant ned regards it as a ruin anyway, and another bothy is lost, for both mountaineer and estate.

    After a decent rest and brew up in the sunshine of the fading afternoon at the bothy, it was on with the planks and off up the Feigh Uaine Mor and onto the high shoulder at its head. As we climbed we were all the time scanning around for a suitable snow bank in which to dig in for the night, finding what looked OK just below the crest of the high bealach between Chlamhain and its westerly top, facing north to the fading light and evening pink glow.

    • Thanks for sharing that on the site, Calum. I think you’d see a big difference now and might even be tempted away from your snow hole! 🙂
      Incidentally, it’s worth noting that the estate have been extremely supportive in all our work on the Tarf Hotel, going way beyond mere toleration and taking a very active role in what was a major renovation. All credit to them.

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