Faindouran Bothy back in business, complete with stove

Faindouran Bothy, Glen Avon, Cairngorms

Faindouran Bothy in Glen Avon. The stove gives it a heart once more

After writing about a lost bothy in the last post, it’s good to be able to write of a bothy regained.

To be exact, Faindouran was never exactly ‘lost’, but it was a close run  thing at the start of 2013 when news came through that a large part of the gable wall had come down in a winter storm.

East gable of Faindouran Bothy, Glen Avon, Cairngorms

The east gable of Faindouran Bothy showing the damage caused in the winter storm of 2013

The situation was serious. Nothing could be done immediately because of the weather, but there was further delay while a practicable solution to the collapsed wall could be found, given the remote location.

After a lot of thought, the wall was not so much repaired as replaced: the original wall (never built as an external wall) was capped and a block and timber wall was built outside it, giving both stability and protection.

A lot of work was involved, with volunteers making a number of long journeys – it’s 16 miles up a sometimes precipitous landy track – but by the end of last year the work was all but done.

Repaired east gable lof Faindouran Bothy, Cairngorms

The new gable, faced with long-lasting larch.

However a very important element was still outstanding. The gable wall had also been the chimney wall. Rather than try to rebuild a chimney, it was decided to put a stove in, with a flue going through the roof. That stove was in place last year, but lacked the flue.

Last weekend a group of us met in Tomintoul on Friday night and headed up the long and winding road to Faindouran – 16 miles, but a journey of over an hour in a four-wheel-drive. MOs Hugh and Marlene were joined by Kenny Freeman, his daughter Elaine, John Gifford, Stevie the plumber, Neil Findlay and myself. On Saturday morning we were joined by Bill Sutherland, who drove up two slaters from Airdrie, newcomers to bothy life, who had been wooed with drink at Bob Scott’s and fooled into volunteering to help out with the roof.

They came to find the flue almost in place through the roof, courtesy of Stevie and Neil F and set up scaffolding to allow them to slate the quarter of the roof which had remained unfinished – not as straightforward a job as you’d think, as the ‘slates’ were irregular stone tiles of all widths and lengths.

Scaffolding erected at rear of Faindouran Bothy, Glen Avon

Roofers working from scaffolding at the back of the bothy

Kenny Freeman and Hugh Munro working in Faindouran Bothy, Cairngorms

Kenny and Hugh filling some gaps in the eaves to improve the sleeping area

By the end of the weekend the roof was all but complete (and certainly weatherproofed) and the stove had been ritually lit, quickly warming up the small bothy (albeit it was a glorious weekend weather-wise). The sleeping area in the attic was also improved.

New stove at Faindouran Bothy, Cairngorms

The heart of any bothy – the fire

Across in the stable, which had been given a wooden floor to provide temporary accommodation while the bothy was uninhabitable, Neil Findlay laid a cement floor in the doorway.

Stable building at Faindouran Bothy, Glen Avon

Cement mixer in action outside the stable

Improved doorway of the stable at Faindouran Bothy, Cairngorms

And where all the cement went – a new floor for the doorway to match the new wooden floor, making good spillover accommodation

With a high proportion of musicians and singers in the company, we had good-going ceilidhs on both Friday and Saturday nights, making sure the revived bothy was well and truly christened.

Singers at ceilidh in Faindouran Bothy

Hugh, Marlene and Bill give song on the Saturday evening ceilidh

(There’s now a dedicated Faindouran page in the bothies section of the website.


For Neil Findlay and I it had been a two-centre holiday. We’d met at Bob Scott’s on Thursday night and went in to Corrour Bothy on Friday morning to change over the toilet there. Then we returned to Derry via Carn a Mhaim before driving round to meet the others at Tomintoul. Don’t say we never get about in this business!

Neil Findlay sweeping the path in the Lairig Ghru, Cairngorms

On the way in to Corrour Bothy on the Friday morning. The brush was a replacement for Corrour, but we couldn’t resist the idea of sweeping up on the way in.

Neil Findlay with ppe for changing the toilet at Corrour Bothy, Cairngorms

And finally… what the well-dressed bothy toilet cleaner wears – in Neil Findlay’s case a see-through boiler suit and pink marigolds. Pink???

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23 Responses to Faindouran Bothy back in business, complete with stove

  1. piper says:

    Well done all involved .Myself ,i was on Janitor duties at the Hutchinson hut , but great weekend,s weather for maintenance jobs .

  2. Excellent – haven’t been to Faindouran yet but the Glen Avon has to be my favourite cycle-in yet (I only went as far as Inchrory though) and I’d like to go all the way up the glen. Love Tomintoul too – what a lovely little place 🙂

    • Aye the going gets tough after Inchrory. I cycled in one Friday night with my mate (albeit in the dark with a weekend sack and climbing gear) and we were both just about in tears and on our knees when we finally arrived four hours later. 🙂 Oh happy days. 😀

      • Oo-err – perhaps I should still leave the bike not far after Inchrory and walk the rest. I always get off and walk up steep hills anyway and I remember the track does go dramatically up not far after there.

      • Nah, just go for it. You won’t have as heavy a pack and will probably be doing it in daylight. I think I’d rather cycle (and push) than walk – it’s about 16-17 miles. Lovely up there though.

  3. malc says:

    striking resemblance between Neil in the red top and the cement mixer! Well done all!!

  4. James Ford says:

    Well done all involved! I’ve spent several nights in Faindouran – it’s my favourite bothy because it’s so remote and peaceful. Why wasn’t the stove put in the existing fireplace, with the flue going up the existing lum? I hope the exterior cladding doesn’t end up in the stove – there’s precious little else to burn for miles around!

    • Hi James. The flue didn’t go up the existing lum because the lum was what fell down. The gable wall (which was originally built as an internal wall) was considered to weakened to be safely rebuilt given any possible resources, so it was stabilised with blocks and a new end wall built in larch. We too hope no-one burns the walls of the bothy – but experience at Corrour and Hutchison (both remote and without firewood) has shown people tend not to do that any more.

      • James Ford says:

        I think the wall was due to go anyway! The last time I was there was about 10 years ago and during the windy night there was a constant rustling, which I thought was mice. In the morning I noticed quite a bit of mortar near the fireplace, so I guess the noise was the mortar falling down.

  5. Sinbad says:

    Well done guys, hope to be on the next w/party in the not too distant future.There’s always a great night in store with our travelling musicians, Hugh, Marlene, Bill, John and Malcolm, and the inaugural ceilidh in the stable, now known as “The Ballroom” was a night to remember.

  6. Mark says:

    Top job and great to know that Faindouran is restored. Which reminds me I need to get a workparty ASAP. Even without a fire I was mighty glad to cross the river and dive into the bothy on a horrendously midgy evening in August a few years back. Would love to make the trek in during the winter…….

  7. A job well done, was there back in March & noticed some nugget head had tried to light up the unconnected stove with a Tesco fire log……must have got smoked out pretty soon.

    • Idiot. Mind you, the worst insanity I saw was in the Hutchie before it was renovated. Arrived there one day to find someone had dragged a couple of rocks in onto the wooden floor and had a fire on top of them. Deserved to have his head clapped between the rocks for sheer stupidity, let alone the danger to the bothy.

  8. JohnJ says:

    My grateful thanks to everyone who put so much effort into getting Faindouran back in action, that’s one hell of a lot of hard work – well done!

  9. Peter Aikman says:

    Well done, its been great working weather, well done in catching the two slaters ( I once was blessed with two passing firemen who turned out to be joiners ). Fond memories of the “ceilidh”. Who was it came back in and said “its getting light” ?

  10. Fife walking says:

    Thank you to everyone who did this work. Hope to walk through Glen Avon next year with an overnight either at the bothy or in the vicinity of it.

  11. Ian Sodden says:

    When did Faindouran get so small? I remember it being much bigger when I was in it with Dave Crofton. Grandson of the Crofton of the Cumming/Crofton route. We had a great couple of nights either side of Dave being the third generation of Croftons to have climbed the route.

    • An unfortunate incident where we washed it and discovered it wasn’t shrinkproof! 🙂 I think it always seems smaller than you remember it – and I’ve been there so seldom that the memory of it’s size always beats its real size.
      Sounds like a great family tradition to keep up though – especially on such a great route.

  12. Graham Gedge says:

    Can I ask a bit of a possible cheeky question, not directly related to the refurb (other than we may visit soon)? Do you know if the bridges crossing the river to East of bothy are still usable or did they get washed away in a storms a few years back?

    Thanks in advance

    Graham Gedge

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