Scotland

The campaigners attempting to turn Scotland into a nation of 'hutters'

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Media captionThere are 146 huts dotted around the woods of Carbeth outside Glasgow, many dating back to the 1920s

One in eight Norwegians has a summer cabin in the woods, where they can go to escape the grind of city life.

Now a campaign to see more huts built in Scotland is gathering pace.

Gerry Loose is a "hutter". For 15 years, he and his partner Morven have been coming to their little cabin in the woods in Carbeth.

It's just 10 miles from the centre of Glasgow - yet it's a world away from the bustle of the city.

"Just take a look at where we are," he says. "The place is green, peaceful. It's a haven."

Their hut is one of 146 huts dotted around the hills here.

Many of them date back to the 1920s, when a local landlord began allowing industrial workers to build somewhere for weekends and holidays.

"When people first came here, the stories go that they'd come out on the bus from Clydebank with a couple of bricks in a bag to build the stone foundations."

Image caption This prototype hut near Falkland in Fife has won an award an award for its design. It was made from trees felled in a storm, and cost £2,000

"People would club together to get a flatbed lorry to bring timber, sometimes from the shipyards down there."

Living light

Most of the huts are basic structures - no running water or electricity. Heat comes from a wood burning stove.

But despite the lack of luxury, there's a long waiting list of people wanting a slice of the simple life.

Image caption Many huts are very basic, with no running water or electricity

Ninian Stuart, from Reforesting Scotland, which has launched a "Thousand Huts" campaign, believes the success of Carbeth could be replicated all over the country.

"I think 1,000 huts is only a start," he says. "I think we're certainly talking about 10,000 huts within 10 years."

With the help of volunteers, he has built a prototype for a "21st Century hut" in woods near Falkland in Fife.

It was built using storm-felled trees - and cost just £2,000.

But although building your own hut can be affordable, it's not without its challenges.

One issue is land. After years of dispute with the landowner over rent, the Carbeth hutters recently raised £1.75m to buy the land on which their huts stand.

They now have the power to allow people to build a generation of new huts.

Elsewhere, the campaigners are looking at convincing local authorities and other public landowners that nurturing small hutting colonies could bring benefits.

Image caption Volunteers helped build a prototype 21st Century hut near Falkland

"The Forestry Commission are wishing to engage with us on this discussion, so we're looking at the potential of a pilot with some of their land," Ninian adds.

"I think there's also a much greater potential for community-owned land."

That's not the only hurdle, however. Aspiring hut-builders also have to navigate planning law.

"At the moment planning doesn't recognise huts at all," Ninian says.

"So if you're building a structure like this you need to go through full planning consent as though you're building an ordinary house.

"What we looking at is a much simpler system."

Scottish government Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse says: "We currently consulting on changes to planning policy that would make it easier for hutting to develop in Scotland and allow many more people to experience the benefits."

A new draft Scottish planning policy, currently out for consultation, specifically refers to "huts for temporary recreational occupation" for the very first time.

The campaigners believe this signals a step towards making their vision a reality.

Huts for all

The next step would be getting huts recognised in a separate planning category.

But they're clear that for that to work, what constitutes a "hut" would have to be clearly defined - as would safeguards for both hutters and landowners to avoid speculation and spiralling prices.

Image caption Carbeth hut owners Gerry and Morven believe "hutting" should be accessible for all

"We're keen that it doesn't become a speculation thing in terms of folk paying ridiculous amounts of money for huts - like beach huts that you hear of down south," Morven says.

"It's about keeping it in the scope of ordinary folk."

Gerry agrees: "I think the entire membership of the Thousand Huts campaign will stand with me that it's not about capital, and it's not about profit.

"I suppose the most obvious restriction would be quite a simple restriction on size.

"If you want a second home, go and buy one in the Western Isles.

"That's not what hutting is about. Hutting is about living a simple life in a simple way."

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