In the last few days bothy news has been both good and bad. On the downside, serious vandalism has been reported at Feith Uaine, otherwise kown as the Tarf Hotel, where it seems wooden sleeping platforms have been smashed and burned in the stove (see this post on the Hilltalk forum). Much more encouragingly, a big improvement to Corrour bothy has been announced.
With its unrivalled location in the Lairig Ghru, Corrour has always been popular, and in 2007 a toilet was built by the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) to help lighten the load (pun intended) on the surrounding area. A bothy toilet is a rarity, but the MBA reckon that over the last 11 years it has prevented literally tons of human waste from polluting the vicinity of the bothy.
"However the volume of use has meant that maintaining and servicing the toilet has been very labour intensive and necessitated monthly visits from a dedicated but very small group of volunteers" an MBA spokesperson told us.
In an effort to ease their workload, it was decided to completely redesign the interior of the toilet annexe at the bothy, increasing the capacity so that the time between maintenance visits could be extended.
"At the end of June, on the same weekend that our volunteers rebuilt the Garbh Coire Refuge [see here], a small team completely stripped out the interior of the toilet annex, leaving it an empty shell" said the MBA.
"The debris was removed by the helicopter being used to take tools and materials in to the Garbh Coire Refuge, which also dropped off the materials for the toilet reconstruction. After completion of work at the Garbh Coire the volunteers left a generator and tools in the empty annexe on their way out, where they remained until the crucial personnel had a chance to come back and complete that project. That happened over the first two weekends in September with the project being managed, as are most major projects in the eastern highlands, by Kenny Freeman."
Over two weekends a group of up to 15 volunteers carried out a remarkably problem-free project which saw the interior of the toilet annexe completely recreated. The public area, entered via stone steps at the gable, now has four seats.
Only two seats will be available for use at any one time - Roman-style communal pooing being entirely optional we hope - with waste being collected in sacks below. The other two will be sealed up, allowing the collected waste to dry out slightly.
The MBA hope that even during the busy summer season bog-emptying visits should now only be required once every two months.
"Of course, the work during those visits will be doubled, but the whole operation will be easier as most of the problem in maintenance visits is the travelling and walk-in time" the MBA tell us.
During the work party a new bench, suitable for sitting and/or sleeping, was also built against the back wall of the bothy.
"The 'commissioning' of the toilet (and yes, it was 'christened', and, no, we're not saying who by) wasn't the end of the story, however, for with no helicopter available this time, all the tools had to be carried out on volunteers' backs, including a very weighty generator and a heavy and unwieldy chop saw. The group of about a dozen shouldered all the tools and surplus materials, along with their own weekend rucksacks and made the long walk out to Derry Lodge, where transport awaited. Our volunteers were also helped by a group of five pupils from Banff Academy who are all working towards their DofE silver award and volunteered to help carry stuff out - a great effort by them all, and much appreciated."