Renovation for Garbh Choire Refuge

Garbh Choire Refuge, Cairngorms

Garbh Choire Refuge in August 2017

It’s long past time I updated the position regarding the Garbh Choire Refuge.

As readers of the Mountain Bothies Association magazine will know, Mar Lodge Estate has finally agreed to allow the shelter to be renovated.

And all going well with the paperwork, there are plans to carry out that renovation during 2018.

Not only that, but a donation of Β£5000 has already been sent from someone who used the refuge for two nights a number of years ago, who read of the news in the MBA magazine and wanted to mark his gratitude. An amazing sign of the devotion so many people have for this tiny, remote shelter.

Long fallen into dilapidation, despite frequent temporary repairs by walkers and climbers, the refuge was the subject of much debate and a long campaign by those who wished to save it. This campaign dates back many years and was revived in 2011 when Heather Morning sought permission to have it repaired in the way that the Fords of Avon Refuge was, on RSPB land. Since then myself and Kenny Freeman have been the focus of a widespread movement keeping the issue active.

Towards the end of 2017, in a meeting with Mar Lodge Estate, which owns the refuge, I was told that the estate had finally been persuaded that between removal and renovation the better option, all things considered, was to allow a renovation.

The campaign to save the small stone shelter was led independently of the MBA, although it was always understood that if renovation was to take place the MBA would carry that out, using its well-proven expertise in vulnerable areas, and would be responsible for ongoing maintenance.

Following an offer from Mar Lodge Estate the MBA has now agreed to take on responsibility for the refuge and awaits the legal paperwork from National Trust for Scotland, which owns Mar Lodge Estate.

Once that has been obtained work can go ahead to return the structure to its original state. This will involve removing the stone casing and all the rubbish and debris from previous repair attempts over the years. Then a new waterproof membrane will be fitted over the existing iron framework and the stones and turf will be replaced. The floor will be repaired, and the door and fanlight at the front will be rebuilt to withstand the severe weather experienced in the corrie.

It will make the refuge weathertight once more – for the first time in several decades – but it will remain the same size, sleeping just four at a pinch if everyone wants to sleep lying down. And no fire. It will be, as it ever was, a very basic refuge, suitable for emergency shelter more than planned stays.

I’ll post more on here as work takes place, but this will probably be late spring or early summer. Until then the refuge remains an unsavoury hole which doesn’t keep the rain out.

Thanks are due to the NTS and Mar Lodge Estate, who have agreed to the renovation despite very understandable reservations, and placed a considerable amount of trust in the MBA’s ability to work in such a sensitive location. It is hoped that this trust will be repaid, with the renovated structure being less of a multi-coloured eyesore, and that future users will respect both the shelter and the environment.

Read more about the Garbh Choire Refuge.

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21 Responses to Renovation for Garbh Choire Refuge

  1. alanfmackay says:

    Great news and Wee Done to you and Kenny. Dogged determination!

  2. Hugh S. says:

    This is great news but let’s hope it really is restored at the same size ….I am doubtful about the MBA being able to resist a temptation to enlarge it. The original size and appearance was perfect for the location.

    • You have a poor opinion of the MBA, Hugh. Quite used to abiding by sometimes strict conditions from landowners. The frame is still sound so will dictate the size in any case, but the intention is and always has been to renovate to the same size and original appearance.

  3. Nick Forwood says:

    Excellent news Neil, although I am unlikely to be able to use it again myself. It’s good that tradition will be able to be handed on to the next generation. Fond memories of staying here (with the dog!) back in the eighties.

  4. Reblogged this on heavywhalley and commented:
    Great news well done Neil and Heather a bit like Robert Bruce and the Spider.

  5. Excellent news Neil, especially the intention to retain the same style. A Very Well Done to you and all concerned.

  6. Sinbad says:

    Your dogged determination reminds me of a dog with a bone. You just don’t let it go. Well done to you and Kenny Freeman Without your pressure over the years, this wouldn’t have happened.

  7. malcolm macpherson says:

    Tenacity pays off. Well done all as common sense prevails.

  8. I’ve still to visit, but great news.

  9. Martin Rye says:

    Well done Neil. You put a lot of work into campaigning to keep it. I’ve visited it once when we camped outside one June night. It was in a bad state of repair then, and that was many years ago.

  10. Norrie Muir says:

    Great news. Looking forward to retuning to the bothy, mind you, it is a bit of a walk to the toilet at Corrour.

  11. Peter Aikman says:

    Looks like general support. I reckon a lot is down to the MBA’s reputation in bothy maintenance –
    1. keeping buildings weathertight in difficult situations, without compromising appearance.
    2. internally providing safe basic accomodation, providing a focus for outdoor enthusiasts.
    3. In particular, looking after the Corrour toilet.

    • Hi Peter, praise is always welcome – and the MBA does do a good job, which was all along recognised by the estate even when they were arguing for removal, but I think so much of the support here was due to the regard so many people have for this wee speck of shelter in such a remote glen. It may be basic, but it has been much loved over the years, even since falling into disrepair.
      But yes – the MBA do do a great job. πŸ™‚

  12. Stephen Kerr says:

    Great news. Not been to it 1997… revisit required!

  13. piper says:

    It must be pointed out in bold letters…that it is not a bothy , but a emergency refuge .It,is a long haul out with folks left overs .Look at the rubbish that was left ,….two months after it was first opened …(picture in Bobbie on Ben Macdui book )

  14. Piper’s spot on. I keep having to tell folk that its NOT a bothy. I suppose the word bothy comes to their minds first. I have had lots of expressions of goodwill I can only pass them on. So best wishes for this weekend and no ” Escape from ……”

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