The Fords of Avon Refuge, a spartan hut located in a remote part of the Cairngorms National Park, has provided emergency shelter for hillwalkers and climbers for over forty years.
This weekend the Refuge will be rebuilt by volunteers from the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) in conjunction with support from RSPB Scotland (who own the land on which the refuge is situated), the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) and Glenmore Lodge, the National Outdoor Centre.
Heather Morning, the Mountain Safety Advisor with the MCofS has been the force behind this initiative. She says
'Fords of Avon is very much part of our mountaineering cultural heritage and provides emergency shelter at a key location in the remote Cairngorms. The Refuge is sited within metres of a major river crossing which can be impassable in spate conditions. I believe the Refuge has saved many lives over the years, but sadly over the last decade it has fallen into disrepair and has long been overdue for a refurbishment to make it functional again.'
The Refuge is being rebuilt on a like-for-like basis with full support from the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Importantly, the new Refuge will be looked after by the MBA to ensure it stays in good condition for future hill walkers and climbers to access shelter.
John Arnott, Chairman of the MBA said:
'The MBA is delighted to be playing a leading role in the rebuild and future maintenance of this vital emergency shelter. It is important to emphasise, however, that we will not be installing facilities such as a stove, sleeping platform, etc. that we provide in many of the 100 or so other bothies that we maintain. Rather, we will look after the fabric of the building so that it can continue to provide the function of an extremely basic shelter providing emergency accommodation to those requiring urgent protection from the elements.'
Bob Kinnaird, Principal of The National Outdoor Training Centre, Glenmore Lodge said:
'The location of this shelter makes it an important safety facility that has been sadly neglected over the years and we would like to acknowledge that this important project has only been made possible through the initiative of the MCofS and the active collaboration of various stakeholders with diverse interests.'
Ian Perks from RSPB Scotland added:
'The hut is in a very remote place that is difficult to reach and can be a life saver. It has been great to work with the MBA and the MCofS to refurbish such an important mountain building. It should be stressed, however, the hut is not a bothy and is only suitable for refuge in an emergency. Hopefully the hut will be there providing safe refuge for future generations.'