Ruigh Aiteachain bothy in Glen Feshie looks set to undergo a major refurb after the Cairngorms National Park Authority approved plans to improve and extend it. The good news is that it will remain free to all.
The Glen Feshie estate wants to add an external porch and stairs to an upper sleeping floor at the popular bothy, plus new windows, doors, bult-in bunks and wood burning stoves in the existing downstairs rooms. A wood store will be built outside, kept stocked by the estate to encourage visitors not to cut firewood in the old scots pines that surround the bothy.
There had been fears that the planning application might herald a change of use from a public shelter to private paid accommodation. However the landowner, Danish zillionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, has a good record of stewardship in Glen Feshie, where the woodland environment is being successfully regenerated - in telling contrast to many highland estates - and a report from the National Park authoroity allays any concerns:
'It is important to note that the applicant does not seek permission for a change of use of the building. The building shall remain in use as a bothy and any permission granted for this proposal would not permit a change of use to occur' they say.
' The proposed works would raise the standard of accommodation to a safer level with the benefit of improved comfort. A further benefit is the opportunity to manage some of the behaviours of visitors, notably providing some wood fuel to reduce the chances of visitors damaging trees in their search for fuel.'
'The area generally, and the bothy in particular, are well used by hillwalkers' they conclude.
'The bothy has considerable historic and cultural significance amongst the hill going public and is considered a valuable asset to all.'