Ryvoan Bothy (pron Rye-vo-an) sits to the north of the main Cairngorm massif at NJ 006 115, about 3.5 km beyond the end of the public road at Glenmore Lodge (itself about 2km from Loch Morlich).


There is usually room to park at the road end just past Glenmore Lodge. Then simply follow the landrover track north-east, past the lovely Lochan Uaine. Shortly after that the track forks, the right-hand branch heading to Bynack Mor. Continue on the increasingly bouldery left-hand track up a slight hill and round a corner. You are almost at the bothy before you see it, at the foot of the path up Meall a Bhuachaille. This route in is part of the historic Thieves’ Road from Glen More to Nethy Bridge.


A single-roomed bothy with a spacious lean-to storm porch, recent improvements have seen a sleeping platform installed and the fire remodelled to burn less fuel and throw out more heat. Many of the drafts which once assailed visitors have now been cured too.

It will sleep four comfortable on the sleeping bench and as many more as you care to pack on the floor – possibly a dozen wouldn’t be unreasonable?


There is no fuel around the bothy, but fallen wood may be found back past Lochan Uaine – although it is increasingly preferred to take in your own fuel as dead wood provides a valuable environment for insect life, which feeds birds. It’s not far from the road and a 10 kg bag of coal between two is not unreasonable.


It is not advisable to drink water from the burn beside the bothy. (See comment below). There have been reports of illness after doing so and, especially during heavy rain and snow melt, there can be pollution from human faeces in the area around the bothy.

Clean water can be found by walking a couple of hundred yards back towards the road to a clean stream near the junction with the Bynack Mor track.


None. Take the bothy spade for a (long) walk.


Ryvoan – the name comes from Ruighe a Bhothain, or Sheil of the Bothy – was formerly a farm, with the building at least twice as long as it is now. The farm was abandoned in 1877 and not worked after that time, although in the first part of the 20th century it survived as a single room with wooden floor and lining.

A byre stood at the western gable (the end looking back towards Glen More) but this was demolished or had collapsed by the 1960s and, according to the late Irvine Butterfield, it was the legendary Creag Dubh Climbing Club who saved the whole building from ruin by protecting the exposed gable with the collapsed corrugated iron roofing from the byre.

In 1972 maintenance was taken over by the Mountain Bothies Association and the future of the building secured. For many years it had a reputation for drafts and cold, but a lot of work over recent years has made considerable improvement to the quality of accommodation.

32 Responses to Ryvoan

  1. andy says:

    What, no mention of the stories about it being haunted… things going bump in the night and all that…?? 😉

    • Spent many a night in Ryvoan, Andy, and the only thing that ever went bump in the night was someone tripping over a rucksack. The only spirits I’ve ever seen in any bothy came out of a bottle too. 😉

      • andy says:

        Spirits out of a bottle? Isn’t that where they all come from… 😉
        Anyhoo, I don’t think you’ve ever mentioned the Henderson 1932 diary of a grand stravaig through the ‘Gorms, have you? They stopped at Ryvoan too. It’s a great read, I just can’t stop reading it over and over again and wishing I’d been around then (but then again, I’d probably be dead by now…)

        Here it is:


        If you haven’t come across it before, you’re in for a treat, but I’m sure you’ve read it already.

  2. Aye Andy, I’ve seen that before and a good read it is too. I didn’t put a link on the page because it isn’t specifically to do with Ryvoan alone, but it’s well worth reading, so thanks for that.

  3. Ricky M says:

    Hi Neil

    A wee heads up on the water sources at Ryvoan.
    A chat with the RSPB guys at Forrest Lodge last year (during the Fords of A`an rebuild) indicated that there was a bit of concern about the water quality due to the lavatorial issues around the bothy.
    We were advise to go down to the main stream (south) 200 yards to get water as the stuff near to Ryvoan bothy was suspect

  4. Lex Gibson says:

    I spent 3 nights in the bothy in October 1954 with some of my schoolmates. We used it as a base
    for part of our Outward Bound course, we used the water next to the bothy, it must have been good water back then as I’m now 72 and still kicking. Our main base was the original “Glenmore Lodge”, (now the youth hostel) and I was in a dormitory appropriately named “Ryvoan”. One of our instructors was a Mr Scott who told us many stories including “The big grey man” or “The old Grey man of Ben Mc Dhui. We had an experience on the mountain when a thick cloud descended on us
    we lost contact with with some of our party, Mr Scott called out to us to sit down where we were and wait, it was an eerie feeling I imagined that I saw a figure darting around in giant leaps. After a period of approx. 20 minutes the cloud lifted and we all reunited safely, but I never did experience any Ghosts at Ryvoan bothy

    • Hi Lex, thanks for your comment – it’s always good to hear from folk who’ve enjoyed the bothies. Like you, I’ve drunk out of the stream without any ill effects, but either I’m getting fussier or the water’s getting peatier, cos it can be pretty dark sometimes. Add that to the fact that, regretably, too many folk don’t walk far enough from the bothy for the toilet, and I reckon these days its better to walk back down the path a bit to the clear stream.
      As for the ghosts? I think the only folk who see them are the folk who are looking to see them. I’ve seen many strange things in bothies but all of them have been people – and some of them my mates! 😉

  5. Linda Hutson says:

    Hi all – just thought you might be interested in the info re Ryvoan Bothy. The last person who resided at Ryvoan (which was once a much larger structure, the remains of which can still be seen if you have a scratch about in the grass) was my ancestor James Grant born Nov 1786 died Dec 1876. He was a real character. Military service: 79th Regiment. Enlisted at a Figgat Fair aged 16. First engagement Copenhagen 1807 subsequently served throughout Peninsular War. Received a medal and 3 clasps for Corunna, Busaco, and Fuentes d’Onor. James Grant was game keeper at Ryvoan. When the highland clearances occurred he was allowed to stay on the land. He paid his rent to Sir James Grant. This probably means he was a relative of Sir James Grant. During his time at Ryvoan James found a “stone” beside the Feith Buidhe on the Cairngorm-Ben MacDhuie plateau which weighed about 50lbs. It was purchased by Queen Victoria for the sum of 50 pound. What remains of the bothy is only one third. James Grant died 22 Dec 1876. In 1877 Ryvoan was abandoned and has never been used as a residence since. Perhaps it is his ghost who is floating about there? 🙂

    • Thanks for that, Linda. I should really expand this page to include a little more about the history of the bothy – although, as I mentioned above, the only spirits I’ve seen there have been poured out of bottles! 🙂

      • Eileen Stewart says:

        Please could Linda get in touch. There will be a renunion of the proven descendants of the Grants of Ryvoan this summer. Thank you.

    • glen grant says:

      I visited Ryvoan the other day. It was the home of my great great great grandfather. My great grandfather went there to live with his grandfather to recuperate after being shot 4 times.

  6. Lex Gibson says:

    It’s me again, I have just been reminiscing about our last holiday. We took a cottage in Newtonmore for 1 week and paid a visit to loch Morlich on what must have been the hottest day of this year, (2014) It reminded me of the first time I took my wife and our little Lab pup on our annual holiday in our little 10ft. caravan and stopped at the local caravan park, this was in 1972. I was rambling on about Ryvoan and my wife said ” O.K. I’ve heard enough, let’s go and see if It’s still there, how far is it any way” “oh it’s just down that track a bit ” I replied. So we set off wearing T shirts ,shorts and sandals. after a few classic ” Are we there yets ” we eventually rounded a bend on the track and there it was. I think it must have been the biggest anti climax of her life, she walked around what was left of it, the one half still standing and the ple of rubble attached to it, She said , ” O.K. lets get back. She never said another word that day but I could see that she and the dog were exhausted. Ryvoan was never mentioned again, not even on our last visit. Amazingly we are still married after 42 Years

  7. William Ross says:

    To Linda and Eileen I aso have fairly strong family connections.
    Ryvoan has been for many years a place of interest to me, having visited there on Highland childhood holidays, and being aware of its family connections to the Grants and Collies.
    Ryvoan – history: extract from Irvine Butterfield article in “The Scottish Mountaineer” 2005: “” In an old scrapbook I found a cutting from “The Book of the Braemar Gathering” of an article written in 1973 by Affleck Gray. Revoan he wrote was originally a croft dating to the 18th century and the birthplace of the celebrated Grigor Ruighe Bhothan, a man of prodigious strength, and with a phenomenal capacity for strong liquors which were distilled in the locality. The croft was abandoned in 1877 and never worked after that time. When Gray knew it the single room cottage was floored from floor to ceiling with Abernethy fir and furnished with a long table, forms and a cupboard. At the western gable there was a byre whose walls had been removed by the late sixties to expose a gable, which rapidly deteriorated. It was said that the Creag Dhu helped save the walls by cladding them in the discarded corrugated iron roofing of the old byre so that it was capable of rescue as a rough shelter by the intervention of the Mountain Bothies Asslocation.

    My great-great-grandfather James Grant Jr. (20th May 1820 – 28th November 1895 at Tulloch) was born at Ryvoan and worked as a farmer there. He married my great-great-grandmother Marjory Cameron (13th January 1834 – 29th January 1915 at Coylumbridge) on her 19th birthday. They had twelve offspring as follows (first nine born at Ryvoan, the remainder at Glenmore ?Lodge): Elspeth (8th March 1854), Jane (17th May 1855), James (27th October 1856), “Big” Grigor (6th January 1860) (see below), Margaret (1st May 1862), Christina (22nd November 1863), Marjory known later as May (27th January 1865), Lewis (18th January 1866), William (26th April 1867), Lillias (3rd February 1871), Isabella (12th March 1874), John (1st August 1875).

    Their seventh child, my great-grandmother May Grant (27th January 1865 – 6th April 1931, latterly of Rothiemurchus / Coylumbridge) was born at Ryvoan, and married her employer (as housekeeper) Alexander Collie (1834-1912) farmer of Tullochgrue in Rothiemurchus (as his second wife) in 1906. Alexander & May Collie had four children (two illegitimate) of whom my grandmother Marjorie Collie was the third, and subsequently married my grandfather Alexander Ross in 1931. The other three offspring to this relationship were Mary (1894-1984, emigrated to Australia around 20-years old & married Kenneth McIntosh), Annie (1898-?), and Jessie (1909-1924). Alexander Collie had previously six children (plus twins died soon after birth) by his first wife Isabella Bell.

    Looking further back, my great-great-great grandfather was James Grant Sr., also of Ryvoan (c1788-1876). He enlisted in the army at age 16years in 1804, fighting at Copenhagen in 1807. Subsequently he served throughout the Peninsular War, and received a medal and three clasps for Corunna, Busaco, and Fuentes d’Onor, being wounded in the last. On returning to Ryvoan he married local beauty Elsie Grant. He died in 1876, perhaps the oldest pensioner in the British Army (1812-1876).

    “Big” Grigor (“Grigor of the Eagles”), well over 6ft high and a Boer War veteran, along with his father James Grant Jr. discovered the biggest cairngorm stone ever found at around 50lbs – they walked through the Lairig Ghru, and sold it to Queen Victoria for £50. (This is briefly mentioned in the 1900 publication of Rev. Forsyth – “In the Shadow of Cairngorm”). Its whereabouts are now unknown.

    I put these few words on a webpage which is about to be taken down hence I have copied and pasted. The 2015 reunion may be of interest to me.

  8. Patrick Grant says:

    To Eileen William & Linda
    It’s been a fascinating co-incidence to find so much of “my” family history/ folklore aired in this blog – triggered by my on line search for info on the biggest Cairngorm stone after a chat to my 89 yo uncle (Ian Macgillivray) when we were remiscing. It’s been great to hear that someone else (William) has tales of “Big” Grigor – until quite recently I had his shotgun!!
    I heard recently ( in Grantown at the 250 aniversary celebration – Jul 2015) that there was was to be another “Gowach” picnic ( Not sure how you spell that!) – the last one I was at was in Alvie Schoolhouse about 1974 – and before that at Ord Ban in the late 1950s or very early 1960s. If it’s not past I’d certainly like to attend another.

    Incidentally there seems to be a slight discrepancy between Linda’s & William’s report as to which Jas Grant found the Cairngorm stone – I suspect it was Jas Grant jnr along with “Big” Grigor, as opposed to “The Pensioner”

    Patrick Grant

    • Hi Patrick, good to see that there’s been so much interest in the history of Ryvoan and the people who lived there. To outsiders it’s all just history – interesting as it is – and it’s easy to forget that these were real people who have descendants today to whom they’re family. Glad this has acted as a wee focus for some of you. 🙂

    • William Ross says:

      Patrick – odd how the bothy page has garnered connections of the family. Yes – reunion the weekend of 15/16 August 2015 inc. poss. viewing of stone. Suggest email me or Eileen for details – I am on willyross (at) gmail (dot) com. Re which James Grant of the stone – you are right, and I have amended this on the storing webpage.

    • Eileen Stewart says:

      Yes Please do get in touch with Willy. We have been trying to find a contact address for you and other members of Flora’s family. There was also a Neil MacGregor on the photo I have of the Alvie school gathering. If you are still in touch with him please invite him too and also any of Alastair’s family. This is, indeed, your family,too. Your uncle Ian has my email and postal addresses. Linda’s link with the family I’m afraid has proved a false one. We all make mistakes because of the limited number of names that were in use at any one time but the dates just don’t make sense. It was, indeed, as Willy has confirmed, the younger James who found the big cairngorm stone. Eileen

  9. Patrick Grant says:

    thanks for replies – Eileen & William – things can suddenly move very fast after many years of lying dormant! I’ve just had phone contact with John Macgillivray who knows all about the picnic – and the stone – so I’m hoping we’ll all meet up as planned

  10. S Young says:

    Just in case the descendants are still out there looking at this page.. I’m another one. Sadly didn’t know about it in time for the reunion but just to let you know that there are a few more of us out there. My line is through Christina, her daughter Marjorie (May) and her daughter Lily Grant Macdonald

  11. Paddy Grant says:

    Hello & belated welcome to the “family”. I was at the reunion last year – & saw the Cairngorm Stone in Crathie Church the following day. Although I’m not in the mainstream of the family history activity there is quite a lot of ongoing activity & interest & I’m sure your input would be most welcome. If you can e mail me I can put you in touch – though I can’t recall how this works – maybe “cairngorm wanderer” can give you my e mail – or if that fails I can leave it in a further post

  12. Paddy Grant says:


  13. Anne Crezee says:

    Hi guys, love al, the stories. Question, is the bothy accesible by MTB?

    • You can get a mountain bike in to Ryvoan quite easily. It’s a good track all the way from the road end at Glenmore Lodge. The only bit you’d probably have to get off and push is the last slope up to the bothy which is pretty bouldery and loose. I cycled in there just last night.

  14. Anne says:

    Great! I will go this week 🙂

  15. RossRichardson says:

    Hi Neil , I read online that Davie Glen done maintenance work on Ryvoan and trapped his beard under a big stane which lead him to tie his beard up when working. Just wondered if youd heard that story or had any other info on Davey Glen. I bivvy in the Bourach a couple of times a year and have become quite interested in him!

    • Hehe, hadn’t heard that story, though I have a notion he was involved somehow in maintenance at Ryvoan many years ago. I’ve just heard bits and pieces myself, though there is some mention of him in IDS Thomson’s book ‘The Black Cloud’, in the chapter about the Jock’s Road disaster.

      • RossRichardson says:

        Read it on rootschat.com ..made me chuckle too!😂 Thanks , i’ll look that book up. Going up to the bourach next week and maybe plug a few holes in the walls , its a tad draughty !

      • According to the Forfar club it’s dangerous just now, with one wall collapsed. There are plans afoot to do a major renovation next year, possibly involving the MBA. Hang about just now and lend a hand for that – I think plenty help will be needed.

      • RossRichardson says:

        Wow , I never knew that. I was last there in March and it was half buried in snow. I’ll hang fire just now and definately be up for helping out with the renovation. 👍

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