News and Views from Scotland

Commercial Use of Bothies Has Potential for A Stushie

Bothy, Graphic ©Robert Jones via Wikimedia Commons

Scotland's bothies are basic shelters in the hills which provide respite for walkers who might require protection from the notoriously changeable weather - or just need a breather.

The Mountain Bothies Association (MBA), has stated that the shelters are at risk because of the increasing use of these huts by commercial businesses

The charity maintains the shelters in locations across Britain, but does not own most of the buildings. They are available to use free-of-charge to hill walkers for an overnight stop, but are not intended to be occupied by groups on guided tours or adventure holidays.

The MBA said on occasions, owners have threatened to close bothies if the charity fails to prevent commercial use. It added that incidents have occurred where legitimate bothy users have been made to feel unwelcome, inconvenienced or even refused entry when commercial groups have been in residence. (Graphic of a ruined bothy © Stanley O Howe via Wikimedia Commons

The bothy code, under which the buildings are made available to the public, emphasises the shelters are not for use by commercial groups.

The MBA said: "Our volunteers who maintain the bothies, not unreasonably, feel aggrieved to know that their hard work is contributing to the profits of a business that probably does not support our organisation in any way. There could be a financial downside too. Local authorities, who levy business rates on bothies, provide 100 per cent relief of payment, which could be withdrawn if the buildings are used for commercial purposes."

MBA trustee and owner liaison officer Roger Muhl said: "We do not wish to hide the existence and purpose of bothies from the customers of outdoor activities businesses. There is always the possibility that some may be sufficiently interested to join MBA and, better still, become one of our volunteers whose work is key to the success of the bothy network."

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August 2016

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