Haven’t moaned about rubbish in bothies for a wee while, so indulge me…
Went in to Corrour this weekend to change over the toilet bag, walking in on Saturday morning from Bob Scott’s and arriving just before lunchtime, somewhat moist from the rain, and knackered from the 8kg of coal in my sack.
There was plenty to do at the toilet. Various ongoing problems there meant the normal changover, moving a 20kg bag of human waste through a narrow passage from one side of the building to the other, was more difficult than normal. The public area of the toilet was overdue a clean-out too, so that took another hour or so.
That was all planned for though.
What wasn’t planned was the large bag of rubbish hanging up in the storm porch.
You can see from the photos, it was a rancid mess inside, and absolutely crawling with small blackflies which were finding plenty sustenance and a great breeding environment in all the food waste in the packets and tins which had been crammed and forced into the bag.
Now you can’t just burn a bag of rubbish like that – all it needs is a gas cannister in there and you’ve lost both the bothy and yourself – so I had to pick through the horrible, sticky, crawling mess and feed everything onto the fire bit by bit. It was literally four hours – four hours – before I needed to put any other fuel on the fire, apart from some mouse-chewed packets of food left on the shelves. And the abandoned sleeping bag wouldn’t burn very well, so that was carried out on Sunday along with all the tin cans, some of which I had to put through the fire anyway to get rid of the stinking food and flies. Crushed, the tins filled the 10k sack the coal had been in.
So far so distressingly normal. Neil Findlay and I had been out at Corrour five weeks earlier, so all that rubbish had been left in that time.
But it hadn’t just been left there. Someone had taken it all and very deliberately – determinedly even – crammed it in, just like they were tidying up.
…And then they left it.
My take is that they hung it all up on a hook on the wall thinking that would keep it out of the way of mice. And that they probably walked out thinking they had done something, if not exactly good, then at least next best to good, because, after all, they wouldn’t have room for all that rubbish in their rucksack. (And no-one in their right mind would put that shit in their rucksack.)
That’s the most charitable take on it and it’s bullshit.
The reason all that rubbish was left was slovenly laziness. There was nothing there that couldn’t have been burned or carried out at the time before. So no excuse at all for the people whose rubbish it was.
Even if it was someone else who ‘cleared up’ and put it in the bag, what the hell was he thinking about? Even out of reach of mice (progress of a sort I suppose) it was a breeding ground for flies – and there were, literally, hundreds, if not even thousands of them.
So let’s get this straight:
DO NOT leave rubbish in a bothy.
DO NOT leave unused food in a bothy.
DO NOT leave that nearly-empty gas cannister (I took six out from Corrour this morning)
DO NOT leave bottles of meths etc. (Even more dangerous, because some idiot is going to try to get the fire lit with it and burn the place down)
DO NOT leave unwanted gear or clothes. In the last eight years I alone have removed at least five tents, half a dozen sleeping bags and enough items of clothing to dress a bloody scout troop.
Sounds negative? Well tough.
Everyone who looks after bothies has the same problem again and again: rubbish. Rubbish left by people who call themselves hikers, hill-walkers, climbers, bothy folk. Rubbish left by people who are very often the same people that decry folk leaving rubbish in bothies.
Bothies are hugely vulnerable. It doesn’t take much at all to change a bothy from a nice, clean, welcoming shelter to a rancid hole that you don’t like to put your sleeping bag down in. So treat it like that. Treat it like you actually care rather than like some bloody parasite, using what others have provided and shitting on their effort. Because if you are one of those people who close your eyes to the rubbish you’ve left when you walk away from a bothy, or who gathers rubbish together and then still leaves it, you get no respect from me.
Ach, I’m sick of moaning. So to end on a positive note, Saturday night in Corrour was a good bothy night in spite of everything that had gone before. Andy and Calum from Dalkeith arrived in the afternoon, relative newcomers to hillwalking and staying in their first bothy, thrilled to bits with it and great company right through the evening. Then at 10.30 pm, long after dark, three Londoners arrived, knackered. They’d taken the overnight bus to Aviemore, walked from there up onto Cairngorm, headed out to McDui, getting overtaken by darkness halfway there but carrying on to the top before dropping down off the side into the Lairig Ghru, down the steep boulderfield that must have been purgatory in the dark and wet, to arrive at the bothy hoping it wouldn’t be too full to get a bed. On Sunday morning these guys headed back out to Aviemore, to catch the bus back down south; they would arrive in London at 7am on Monday and two of them would go straight from the bus station to work. Now that is keen.
And I’m delighted to say that all five – Andy and Calum, and the three Londoners – enjoyed their first night in a bothy, were determined to come back for more… and took all their rubbish home with them!
After writing this I was asked to write a similar post for the UKHillwalking website. Same idea, but developed the idea of who’s responsible. You can read it here