I want one of these! It really is a delight getting out to Corrour Bothy – most of the time – but one of these would be just so much fun.
It was past time for the annual clear-out at the Corrour toilet, and along with my fellow MO Neil Findlay, and our pal Walt Black, we left Bob Scott’s on a miserable-looking Saturday morning to head out to Corrour.
Cloud so low you were afraid to stand up too quick, and intermittent rain meant there wasn’t a great deal of enthusiasm about. My enthusiasm was also tempered by the fact I was carrying about 7 or 8 kg of coal in my already full weekend rucksack. Neil and Walt were carrying coal too, but both had none too discretely emptied some out before we left Scottie’s.
The Luibeg was crossed with no great trauma, but once we got started over the shoulder of Carn a Mhaim the snow made itself increasingly awkward. We had hoped for a freeze to make it solid, but instead it was thawing and soft, meaning whoever was out in front periodically fell through into streams, bogs and WANKS (cross-path drains, so named by one John Frae Kent, standing for Walkers’ Ankle ‘n’ Knee Snappers). By the time we finally reached Corrour all three of us were knackered and Neil had just gone thigh-deep in a slush-filled stream. As I trailed behind Walt & Neil on the final path up to the bothy door I was distracted by a rattling clattering noise as a large fall of ice came down from the face of the Devil’s Point.
I took advantage of a lazy afternoon by having a nap and we enjoyed a traditional bothy night by the fire – rather more sober than intended on Neil’s part, as his Sigg bottle of port had emptied into his rucksack during the walk-in.
Sunday was the big day. An early rise and then we got suited up for the main event. Disposable boiler suits and rubber gloves, then into the innards of the toilet. Neil passed the bags up to me, I passed them down to Walt, and Walt laid them on the grass outside: fifteen bags of human waste ready to go. All we needed was the transport.
While we waited I scrubbed out the now empty toilet and Neil fixed some wear-and-tear damage to the windowsill and then we brewed up some more tea – which was a sure fire signal for the vehicle to appear. Even then we thought we had time – the last time a tracked vehicle came out it traveled at a stately 2 miles an hour – but this one was tramping on and the tea had to be abandoned to get the bags loaded onto helibags in the trailer.
Quarter an hour of hefting bags of shit and a brief chat with Mar Lodge Estate Head Ranger Paul Bolton, and it was all over. It just remained for Neil and I to fix two new bags onto the toilet tubes and close everything up for use, then the long walk out. The weather, at least, was considerably better, but with a major thaw in progress, the snow underfoot wasn’t any easier.
The bags, taken out by Mar Lodge Estate, were to be picked up the next day by a licensed disposal contractor. And that’s it for another year, other than the monthly visits to change over the waste bags and the routine maintenance jobs that any bothy needs, along with the rubbish clear-ups that a particularly busy bothy like Corrour so unfortunately needs.
Those of us who look after Corrour – and there is a core of great volunteers besides MOs Neil F and myself – sometimes get asked by bothy users how much we’re paid for this. We’re not, of course, we do it because we’re daft, but, given the appalling weather we sometimes have to go out in and the pretty distasteful nature of the jobs we sometimes have to do, I very much doubt if you could afford to pay someone to do this shit. (Next time I head up the hills I want to climb one, not spend the time cleaning up after folk.)
A sad reminder that there were other volunteers out and about this weekend. On the way back down we passed a police team doing a line search through the woods at Luibeg Ford, and when we passed Derry Lodge this line-up of Land Rovers from various teams spoke to the ongoing search for missing walker Jim Robertson, last seen on 2nd March, whose belongings were found in Bob Scott’s. Wishing these guys good luck in their search.