The skill, hard work and dedication of many Cairngorm bothy volunteers was recognised at the Cairngorms National Park Design Awards this week.
Three of the area’s bothies, all renovated since the last design awards in the Park, were nominated. Although they lost out in the ‘Place-making’ category to Am Fasgadh at the Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore, the three bothies – Corrour, Hutchison and Bob Scott’s – received a group commendation from the judges.
Celebrating Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, the 2016 Cairngorms National Park Design Awards aimed to recognise exceptional standards of design and craftsmanship in the Park.
While the entries – and the prizes – were dominated by architect-led projects, the appearance of the bothies even in the shortlist was an achievement; to receive a commendation in the face of such professional competition was particularly gratifying.
Bob Scott’s Bothy was nominated on the basis of its rebirth as a community project when it was rebuilt in 2005 after a disastrous fire. The hill walking and climbing community – past and present – and the local community up and down Deeside all became involved in creating a bothy designed to high visual and ecological standards. Playing an important part in the mountaineering heritage of the Cairngorms, it also benefits the local environment through the provision of toilet facilities and relieving pressure on camping in the surrounding area.
Corrour’s nomination was based on its extensive renovation over 2007-8 which turned an unwelcoming stone box into a first class resource with high standards of insulation and construction, with a sympathetically designed toilet extension which has led to a massive improvement in the ecology of the immediate surroundings and the wider area of the Lairig Ghru and Glen Dee.
In the case of the Hutchison Memorial Hut, the 2012 renovation transformed another cold and drafty howff into a much improved, wood-lined and insulated bothy, maintaining the original character while delivering major improvements, including a stove and storm porch, ensuring that the bothy can be used throughout the year and has been appreciated by mountain rescue teams as well as walkers and climbers.
All three bothies have played – and still play – important roles in the heritage of the Cairngorms and the renovations have recognised this and preserved all that was good while improving standards and ensuring the buildings will prove of value well into the future.
They were nominated by Kenny Freeman and his daughter Elaine, who have both been involved in work on the bothies, Kenny being the project manager for all three renovations as well as many other bothy projects in the Cairngorms. Kenny was accompanied at the awards ceremony in Boat of Garten on 14th November by Bert Barnett, who has drawn up plans for just about every Cairngorm project over the last decade and played a role as invaluable as the volunteers with more obvious contributions such as sawing wood and banging in nails.
A win would have been nice but, given the professional nature of the competition, the commendation is a much appreciated – and well earned – recognition by the Cairngorms National Park of the valuable contribution made by the volunteers who built, renovate and maintain an excellent suite of bothies for the use of all who walk and climb in the Cairngorms.