Highlands & Islands

Mountain bothies 'threatened' by commercial use

Bothy Image copyright Emily Rimmer
Image caption Bothies are free to use and are found throughout the Highlands

The sustainability of Scotland's mountain bothies is being threatened by commercial groups, the organisation that maintains the network has warned.

The Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) said it was concerned about the increasing number of businesses using the shelters.

Bothies are found throughout the Highlands, with most of them maintained by the MBA

They are free, but users are asked to follow a "bothy code".

The code prohibits the use of the buildings by commercial groups.

Many bothies were estate buildings originally built for stalking parties or gamekeepers, but are now popular with hillwalkers and climbers. The MBA was formed in 1965 and looks after about 100 bothies throughout the UK.

Most of the shelters are found in Scotland. They provide basic accommodation, but are generally wind and watertight.

Emergency use

The charity said there were a "number of reasons" why commercial use of bothies - for example by guided tours or adventure holidays - could damage the interests of other bothy users.

In a statement, the MBA said: "There have been occasions when an owner has threatened to close a bothy if we fail to act to prevent further use in this way.

"There have been incidents when legitimate bothy users have been made to feel unwelcome, inconvenienced or even refused entry when commercial groups have been in residence.

"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."

But the MBA said it was happy with commercial groups using bothies as a lunch shelter or "in the event of a genuine emergency".

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