Glasgow & West Scotland

Campaign to build 1,000 huts in Scottish forests

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Media captionCampaigners say they are overwhelmed by support for a drive to give more Scots the chance to own a hut in the country

The Carbeth Huts, north of Glasgow, are home to Scotland's best known hutting community.

But the dozens of small, wooden, dwellings dotted amongst the trees are still easy to miss.

Liz Hill has spent holidays and weekends at Carbeth since she was a child. In fact, Liz even met her husband at Carbeth.

She told me: "The beds are freezing, really freezing in the winter. But we've got two hot water bottles for each bed. We came up here at Hogmanay, when it was all iced in and we had bottles of water melting in front of the fire."

Liz can still recall when she first arrived here, with her father, at the end of a long walk.

"He got talking to a chap from Drumchapel who had a hut here already. About two weeks later, we were up here lock, stock and barrel. Five children, the dog, the budgie and my granny and granda'."

The 1920s and 30s were the golden age of hutting in Scotland. But the tradition remained strong until well after World War II.

Sustainable development

In fact, that tradition is still strong in many northern nations where huts, cabins, summerhouses and dachas are as popular as ever.

The journalist and broadcaster, Lesley Riddoch, is studying how communities across Northern Europe benefit from the widespread use of simple, second-homes.

"Scots, like everyone in Europe in the 1930s were trying desperately to get out of cities which were killing them," she said.

Image caption Hutting holidays became popular in Scotland in the 1920s and 30s

"The rates of illness, the lack of sanitation, the overcrowding in Scotland in particular was just chronic until around the 1950s.

"The only difference with Scots is that they didn't succeed in staying. Everywhere else in Europe, hutting became mainstream."

The "Thousand Huts" campaign is backed by the environmental network, Reforesting Scotland.

Its director, Ninian Stuart, believes there are potential benefits for urban and rural communities in 21st Century Scotland.

He said: "We see the benefits to modern Scotland as being partly about sustainable rural development, being able to use the resource of our woods to provide hutting.

"But it is also about reconnecting people who live in the cities with nature and with rural Scotland."

Major challenges lie ahead.

Finding land and securing planning permission are just two of the hurdles to be overcome if more of us are to get the chance to escape the rat race... at least for a while.

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