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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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!