Neil Reid, the Cairngormwanderer

Neil Reid, author of the Cairngormwanderer blog

Cairngormwanderer – Neil Reid – has been walking, climbing and exploring in the Cairngorms for 50 years. A member of the Mountain Bothy Association, he is joint maintenance organiser for Corrour Bothy and has played an active part in the recent renovations of a number of other Cairngorm bothies, including the Hutchie and Fords of Avon. In 2013 he was elected Area Representative for the Eastern Area on the MBA Management Committee, and in 2017 he became a Trustee of the MBA. He is also a Trustee of Bob Scott’s Bothy Association (SCIO No SC045845), which maintains Bob Scott’s Bothy.

In June 2013, after a lifetime in local journalism and a brief spell in PR, he took up the post of Communications Officer with Mountaineering Scotland and edits the magazine Scottish Mountaineer. Any views expressed here are, of course, his own.

He has visited other mountains, but the Cairngorms are ‘home’, whether staying in a bothy, a tent, or under the sky.

Being there and learning more about the hills and their history, and meeting others who enjoy being among mountains,Β isΒ what it’s all about.

57 Responses to About

  1. Great site Neil. Keep up the good work. See you John

    • Thanks John. Itstarted as an exercise for work, but it’s becoming quite addictive. Glad you like it.

    • Dave Hale says:

      Hi Neil,
      Just wanted to say a quick thanks for the laughs, but more importantly the beer and the coal for the fire at the Hutchie on Saturday night!! Some people on your travels in the hills earn the title ‘Legend’ and you earnt it well.

      Thanks to you and the others working to keep the bothies going.

      (The fool who brought the snowboard)

      • No bother Dave, I was glad of the company – and you taking a snowboard over the plateau makes a great bothy tale for the future. Good effort! Hope you all had a good day getting back.

  2. Ronnie says:

    Nice work! Realy good site Neil. We’ll need to get some dates for me to polish off the last ‘Gorms munro’s…just so’s I dont need to go there anymore!!…oh heres a ; for good measure;:;….cheers OMR a great read! Keep it up.Thanks Ronnie.

  3. Ronnie says:

    What!! You’ll nae moderate my comments man!

  4. Hi Neil,

    Nice to meet you at the weekend (we headed out together on the Sunday). I didn’t realise you were CW despite the photos; I never put two and two together!

    I hope you and Colin had a good time at BS and that the cycle out wasn’t too bad! We had a great rest of day but should have joked less about the H&S police stuff; I ended up breaking my ankle in 4 places on the walk back down Glen Derry and had to be lifted out!!

    Hope to get involved in playing a part in bothy upkeeping in future; I’ll catch up with you again once I am back up and walking!!

    • Hi Stuart, sorry to hear about the ankle – that was a bit of a shock. Were you on the path, or still coming down the hill?
      I’ll look forward to seeing you in Scottie’s again – that was a good night.

  5. Just onto the path; sadly there were a few patches of ice and I did a slip like one would in a city centre! Quite lucky in the end as the 4 breaks “righted” the ankle; meaning no pins and a cast off after 6 weeks. A fine job by MR & NHS.

    R.e. the keys lost: Thomas? He gave me his jacket whilst I was decked; sadly he had left his keys in the jacket. He got them when the copter dropped in at Derry Lodge; poor lad.

    Terrific night at Bob Scotts; one of the best (and hottest!!!) nights I have ever had in a bothy.

    • Six weeks sounds bad enough to me!
      It seems keys were dropping all over the place. On our way out, Colin and I bumped into Bothy Dave, who told us Clayton (the guy with the crosswords) had dropped his car keys on Beinn Bhreac.

  6. Monty says:

    An excellent Website Cairngormwanderer. Love the stories and the photos. A pleasure to read.

  7. andy walker says:

    Neil, Great Blog……
    Was great to bump into you and all the guys who work so hardto keep these bothys in good order for us all to enjoy…….. and to catch up since we last met early in 2010….. Hope you had a good day on the hill today…
    Andy. W.

  8. Hi Neil,

    Just stumbled upon your blog and it looks great. A font of knowledge and useful information. I am planning several trips up to your neck of the woods this coming year, so I will be gleaning details for overnight stays from your blog. I will be following updates closely.

    Thanks Dave

  9. David Williams says:

    Hi Neil, Just to mirror what Dave said. Great to meet you and get more of an insight into those who play such a crucial role in the Cairngorms infrastructure. We take the bothy network for granted but forget the hard work involved in their upkeep. Now if only the Bothy Association would implement a blanket ban on all snorers we could all sleep in peace :-). Many thanks. David

    • Cheers David. Lot of hard work, it’s true, but I think I mentioned, it’s also a lot of damned good fun.
      Oh, and the MBA does have a blanket ban on snorers – but it doesn’t really work as the b*ggers just take sleeping bags instead! πŸ™‚

  10. Stewart Munro says:

    Hi Neil, I am planning on heading into Beinn a’Bhuird for some climbing and I am thinking about bivying. Are you able to suggest any good spots for bivying in the area?


    • Hi Stewart, depends where you want to climb, but for the eastern corries you could do worse than beside the Dubh Lochan. It has the advantage of a nearby howff if the weather turns bad. Read about the howff here, with a pic of the bivvy site at the very end: https://cairngormwanderer.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/the-not-so-secret-howff/
      Can’t really recall the bivvy potential in the Garbh Choire (for Squareface or Mitre Ridge etc) but there are sure to be sites and I have heard there’s a howff there, though never found it.
      For scenic value, though, I prefer the Dubh Lochan area.
      Hope you have a good trip.

  11. Al says:

    Hi Neil, this really is an excellent blog – the thoughtfulness and the tales. Thank you.

  12. Neil Campbell says:

    Hi Neil, I wonder if I might pick your brains…. I’m considering taking a walk from Derry Lodge, up the Lairig Ghru onto Braeriach and then south to The Devils Point and return to Derry Lodge. The 25k OS map shows a stalkers path in Coire Ruadh that seems to start about halfway up the hill (NN969000). Would you know if it does actually exist? Would it be a reasonable means of ascent without continuing north the pick up the usual path?

    Really enjoy your blog. looking forward to your next post.


    • Hi Neil, Never used that path. Went into that coire a couple of years back but it was about this time of year and there was snow at the back of it so didn’t try to follow the path, which looks like it crosses some broken outcrops much the same way as the Coire Dhondail path up out of Glen Einich. On that occasion I crossed the bowl of the coire towards the south end and cut up onto the ridge which leads up the east of Coire Bhrochain. Boulder scree just about all the way and occasionally quite steep but I enjoyed it as an ascent because of the views into the Garbh Choire and Coire Bhrochain, and over my shoulder to Cairn Toul. It’s certainly going to be shorter and quicker than going all the way through to join the path in from the north, just so long as you’re comfortable clambering over boulders.
      Hope you enjoy your trip, whichever way you go: a long walk but a real cracker if you get weather like this weekend was.

  13. You must know my old mate Richard Spencer of MBA fame then? I used to be in the OUMS (Open University Mountaineering Club) with him years back…

  14. Nick Forwood says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog via Heavy Whalley.

  15. ardverikie67 says:

    I’m looking for pictures of “Lochend bothy” at Glen Muick which I frequented as a lad in the early – mid 60’s on my early exploration of Lochnagar from Clova. Sadly I didn’t have a camera in those distant days and I can’t seem to find any pictures. Can anyone help?
    Graeme Hunter

  16. Colin Stephen says:

    I just found your website, I first walked the Lairg ghru as a 16year old in 1970 but now can no longer walk any distance because of wear and tear and too heavy rucksack loads.
    I have some stories and photos I can share with your readers if you like.
    How can I send you stuff and photos, I’m a bit of an oldie when it comes to anything bar e-mails and attachments

  17. Hi Neil!

    Recently discovered your blog after trying to find inspiration to plan a few cairngorms trips that I can hopefully undertake this summer or next. Really impressed with the wealth of information on here! Just a quick question – if Allt Scheicheachan bothy is full (I understand this is probably unlikely to happen, but anything’s possible) or it’s a really nice evening, is there space nearby for tents? Any photos online of the bothy show the ground nearby to be quite heathery and tussocky, but I wondered if you knew of anywhere decent around that area? Cheers in advance, and take a look at the beginnings of my own small blog if you fancy.


    • Hi James, last time I was at Allt Sheicheachan was an area meeting and work party, with lots of folk there, so quite a few of us camped. The ground immediately beside the bothy is either too stoney or boggy, but if you go down the stream bank just below the bothy there are a few spots where you can get a wee tent up. Ground is a bit tussocky, but you should be able to find one or two alternatives. Other option is to cross the stream and up the bank at the other side, but a lot of that ground is wet and also exposed to the wind, so I think down by the streamside is best. As you say though, you’ll likely get the place to yourself and it’s a nice bothy to sit in – take a wee bag of coal for the fire and enjoy your trip.

  18. Ashleigh-Paige Fielding says:

    Hi Neil,
    What a beautiful blog, that discusses something far deeper than walking, but the actual care and maintenance of the walking tradition. I had a couple of questions actually, particularly in reference to the upkeep and maintenance of the bothies. I am an architecture student studying in London at the moment, though an avid country walker and bothy user at heart. I am currently completing a project for my final year on defining a new typology of architecture for the urban wanderers; bothies for the city, where people can seek refuge from the cities own version of the elements. I therefore firstly wondered what aspects of bothy life you feel are essential and why is it we value this basic form of shelter so greatly. Furthermore, what is it about the walking community that maintains this mutual code of bothy conduct where bothies are rarely ruined but communally up-kept and what do you contribute to the upkeep of your particular bothy. Finally, in your BBC article you write that ‘ the very existence of a bothy is a defiant subversion of the dog-eat-dog world of business and politics ‘ and I wondered what you meant by this, as the kind of consumerist attitude you refer to is very topical in London and particularly architecture right now.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read my comment and I look forward to your reply. Congratulations on an absolutely beautiful blog.

    Ashleigh-Paige Fielding

  19. Jennifer Pearson says:

    Well done guys

  20. Ian R Mitchell says:

    I have some information on Ashie Brebners about to be released autobiography and its launch in Aberdeen on the 22nd November, including a cover image.
    Could you let me know how I can send this stuff to you, hoping that you will flag it up on your site?
    ian R Mitchell.

  21. Michael Wilkie says:

    Hi Neil- great site!
    I just wondered- are you looking for any help with the works at the Garbh Choire Refuge? I’m not a member of the MBA, but I’d be very willing to lend a hand if it would be useful. Drop me an e-mail if this is possible.



    • Hi Michael, we don’t know the dates yet, although Kenny Freeman is working on the plans once we set a date. Keep an eye on here for updates. It’s really heartening that there has been so much interest in helping out with this one.

  22. Caitlin says:

    Hi Neil, love the site & your blog updates! I recently spoke with a friend of a friend Andy Davidson about his knowledge and experiences of bothies for a feature piece on a student-led publication The National Student. I’m really looking to raise more awareness of bothy culture, ethos & brilliant experiences amongst more city-centred youth. Andy mentioned I should reach out to you, and was wondering if you’d be up for chatting with me a bit? πŸ™‚

  23. Ross Richardson says:

    Hi Neil , keep up the great work…its a pleasure reading your blog. Ive had fun the last few years discovering the Cairngorms and bivvying in various corries (in some of the howffs you mention here) also been inspired by you to do litter picks and never come home with empty pockets (sometimes bags) Off to look for the Dey/Smith bivouac this weekend for a solo bivvy..and bring back any shite I find..😞 You probably dont remember bumping in to me on the hill behind Corrour last September and giving me a tip about the howff up behind the Shelterstone…I found it and had the most comfortable night!😁 Cheers again mate πŸ‘

    • Cheers Ross. Might be up that way myself this weekend, though probably up on top. Good luck with the Smith Dey: it’s above some nice grassy patches beside the young Dee just inside the corrie. You’ll need to take a look in by the rebuilt Garbh Coire Refuge too.

      • Ross Richardson says:

        Thanks for the info Neil , yeah i’ll check out the refuge too…ive spent a couple of soggy nights there in the past so looking forward to seeing your guys good work. πŸ‘ I’m thinking about coming back over Cairn Toul via the Crown Buttress Spur you mentioned…is it just a scramble (as im no climberπŸ˜‚) Done the NE ridge of Sgor an Lochan Uaine last time but thought id try a different route…

      • Yeah, the spur should be fine if you’ve done Angel’s Ridge. It’s just a walk really. Pick out the easiest line up sometimes loosish ground at first, moving onto the firmer ridge as you get higher. If you find yourself using your hands you’re going the wrong way.

      • Ross Richardson says:

        Perfect , thanks again πŸ‘

  24. Ross Richardson says:

    Hi Neil , amazing job you guys made of the Garbh Choire refuge…I had a comfortable night there then had a hike up to the Dey-Smith in the clag at 5am. Unfortunately by chance I uncovered piles of rubbish buried under rocks near the refuge and had to bag it up and carry it out…I think somebody must have came to stay in it a while back and removed all the rubbish then attempted to bury it closeby…disgusting ! It kind of ruined an otherwise perfect trip.
    Although I dont often use bothies I dont believe in getting something for nothing so i’ll make a wee donation to the MBA for the work done on the refuge. Thanks for the chat and keep up the good work. πŸ˜πŸ‘

    • Cheers Ross – and thanks for carrying that rubbish out. We took out everything from the work party and flew out what we found in the refuge, but I don’t think anyone thought to look for previous rubbish burials. So thanks for that – a good job well done.
      Did you find the Smith-Dey?
      Think I saw you walking out on Sunday by the way. I was heading up towards the Lairig on the other side and you were walking down the way near the river.

      • Ross Richardson says:

        Yeah I found the bivouac mate , you were right about it being cramped..haha I had breakfast there and also a wee wander round the corrie…surreal to be alone in the clag in such a remote location. That would have been me you saw , I had a good ramble around the peat hags and old tree stumps before heading home , amazing place ! 😁

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