Glas Allt Shiel

The main house of Glas Allt Shiel in the Cairngorms by Loch Muick

No, not quite. The bothy is round the back

Glas Allt Shiel NO 276 824

Possibly one of the strangest bothies going, if only for being a part of the Queen’s hoose.

Glas Allt Shiel is an open bothy which is one of the out-houses of the Queen’s holiday home, or picnic lodge towards the west end of Loch Muick. A picturesque situation with a lovely lawn for picnics on a sunny summer’s afternoon!

However it came to be the done thing to doss in the Queen’s coal cellar, the big hoose itself is seldom used, so people staying in the bothy have little need to worry about noisy neighbours!


Entrance to bothy section of Glas Allt Shiel by Loch Muick in the Cairngorms

The entrance to Glas Allt Sheil: the fifth door along, it’s just out of sight in the darkness of the passage

When you approach the house up the easily cycleable track from the Loch Muick car park along the north shore of the loch, head towards the back of the house and go into the passageway which leads into a tiny courtyard. The door to the bothy is the furthest in of a row of doors, all the others being locked. The correct door bears a plaque.


Alcove shelf in Glas Allt Sheil bothy

The new stove and wood-lined and insulated back wall

Inside, Glas Allt Shiel is a bit on the dark side, although it was improved in 2016 following a work party from the Bob Scott’s crew. Previously there was only one window to the outside, away in one corner. But now polycarbonate panels have been put in the ceiling, allowing light to come through from the well lit sleeping accommodation in the attic. It’s still a little on the dim side, but much improved. Some may be a little unnerved at the prospect of stepping on the panels, but they’re easily strong enough to take anyone’s weight and can be walked over with impunity.

glass allt shiel rooflights

The polycarbonate sheets in the floor of the upstairs area. The sheets are easily strong enough to walk on. (Photo by Neil Findlay)

The bothy is quite spacious by Cairngorm standards, with a large table and a good few chairs. The floor is wooden and although it used to be hard to heat the donation in 2017 of a stove from Bob Scott’s Bothy Association and a project to wood-line and insulate roof and walls, funded and carried out by the MBA have meant a marked improvement.

It also has a well-lit sleeping area in the roof space, up a steep flight of steps. This is now also insulated.

Stairs and bunk at GAS bothy, Cairngorms

There are two bunks downstairs, with more sleeping accommodation upstairs.

Glas Allt Sheil Bothy attic fully insulated and lined

The upstairs sleeping accommodation.


The bothy used to be a legendarily cold doss, but since the donation and installation of a stove by the Friends of Bob Scott’s – since replaced by a newer model, it has become easier to heat. It’s best to take in some coal for fuel, as the estate ask that neither live nor dead wood be collected from the area.


There’s a stream just outside the bothy which is safe to use. A branch is channeled with granite blocks and has a few steps leading down to the water. Such are the luxuries of a royal connection.


There is another building, behind and separate from the main house. On the uphill side of this there is a small toilet (the door is labelled) which is kept open. This is the usual hole in the ground and flushed by a bucket of water from the burn affair.

Phone signal

There is no mobile phone signal at the bothy or in the immediate area.


The bothy is normally looked after by Dundee University Rucksack Club, although the recent major renovations were funded by the MBA and carried out by MBA and BSBA volunteers.

This page was revised in November 2017.

31 Responses to Glas Allt Shiel

  1. Gill Cairney says:

    Any idea if the main house is used? If so,, who by and for what?

  2. Dave says:

    Neil. Any ideal what the bothy building actually was before it changed to the bothy? all the dooks in the walls leave me to think that something used to hang in it (like meant maybe) the former slit windows in the non window wall by the stair were open at one time presumably to let in air

    • Hi Dave, don’t know what it was used for but I would imagine it was for some form of storage for the ‘big hoose’. When you mentioned ventilation I wondered about a deer larder, but that would be kept well away from the queen’s delicate neb, so I suspect something rather less prone to smelling.

      • Lochnagarclimber says:

        The main house is also known locally as The Widow’s House as it was where Queen Victoria retreated for the solitude after the death of Prince Albert.

  3. AILEEN says:

    Any estimate of how many it may sleep?

    • Probably as many as you’ll need. From recollection, probably eight or more upstairs and a few more than that downstairs. Haven’t been there for a wee while, so my memory of scale is shaky.

  4. brian says:

    great post thanks cairngormwanderer

  5. Sinbad says:

    I was up there last year and saw HRH out walking her dogs down by the loch. She just looked like someones auld grannie.

  6. Suzanne Walsh says:

    Hello Cairngormwanderer: We are Americans interested in leasing Garbh Allt Shiel. .Is the walk to Glas Allt Shiel Bridge and falls doable for non hikers ? Also, what are your recommendations for one staying at the cottage ? Thank you, Suzanne

    • Hi Suzanne, the Glas Allt Sheil is a bothy which is open to everyone, so, while you’re welcome to use it for a short stay of up to a few days, you can’t actually lease it or hire it for your exclusive use. You can read more about the ‘rules’ and etiquette of staying at bothies on the main bothies page here –
      As for getting there, the bothy is about 5km from the Spital of Glen Muick Car Park along an easy track, and there is a well made path up the back of the bothy to the falls, so you shouldn’t find any great difficulty.
      Just a word of caution though: you have to remember that the bothy, which is open to the public, is a wee outhouse round the back of the main house – not the grand building you see from the lochshore, which belongs to the Queen and is very definitely not for hire. 🙂

  7. Chris Wright says:

    Really useful update, cheers.

  8. Josh McCulloch says:

    Hi, i was wondering if this bothy is ever shut? During winter for instance. A friend of mine said that it was closed when he last visited (in March). If so when are the bothies normally open again for anyone to use?
    Thanks for your help, i did try and search for an answer but i couldn’t see anything. Sorry if this has already been covered.

  9. Caroline says:

    It’s actually a bit spooky! It is pretty dingy, but if you had a nice fire in the stove and cosy stuff, it might be fine – good that people are improving it! The big house seems sad, like it needs some loving care, there is mould on the wall inside uptairs. The location is stunning.

    • Aye, any bothy can feel spooky if you’re on your own, but it’s a lot lighter than it used to be. And more work planned for later in the year should improve the downstairs too. The big house? Well, if Mrs Windsor speaks nicely to the MBA, I’m sure we could do something with it. 😉

  10. Jimbob Jones Jnr III says:

    I have been there 7 times in the past as I stay only 50 odd miles from the loch, the main house has only been in use once by the royal family while I was there camping.

    Me and a group of friends were walking in the dark and pouring rain along the 3.5 mile walk to the bothy from the car park, then all of a sudden 3 black land rovers drive past us and one stopped and some guy got out and told us that royalty were using the main house and to avoid that area.

    I believe it was Prince Edward as it was his birthday, they were there to get p*ssed and set off fireworks I reckon (even though it was raining).

    • Caroline says:

      Lol! Except I’m sure you weren’t laughing. Didn’t they do the decent thing and offer you a lift or at least an invitation to join the jollification? It would be lovely if it was cared for and caring to the minions 🙂 Well done to MBA for their passionate efforts x

  11. Rachel Conolly says:

    Hi do you know if this bothy is open all year? Looking to do a winter hike and stay over. Thanks

  12. Maisy says:

    Hi, can I park at the bothy.? Planning to do the White Mounth Munros, so coming from Glasgow the night before.

  13. Nikki McKinnell says:


    Do you know if I am able to drive my car down to the bothy instead of parking in car park? As I have seen cars there before but I am unsure.

    • There’s a locked gate at the car park, so you need to walk or cycle in to the bothy. Occasionally estate vehicles may be there or others with the estate’s permission, when there is work being done on the bothy.

  14. Clare Davis says:

    We had a walk recently around lake muick. Came apon Glas Allt Shiel and saw it was all boarded up except on window. I went up to the window and to my surprise there were people in there sat around a lit candle. I waved and they waved back. I was under the impression that it was always empty. Can anyone shed any light on this?

    Regards Clare

    • Hi Clare, depends which window it was. Sounds like you were round the west side and looking in through the bothy window. If it was one of the front windows in the main part of the building though, it was probably the ghosts of Queen Victoria and John Brown.

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