South Scotland

Remote bothies in south of Scotland 'not law-free zones'

Bothy Image copyright Iain Russell
Image caption The MBA maintains 11 bothies across southern Scotland

A bid is being made to stamp out antisocial behaviour, vandalism and fire-raising at remote bothies in southern Scotland.

Police said they wanted to ensure the shelters were "used for the purpose they are intended for".

In one recent incident a group of hillwalkers was denied access by a "bothy full of revellers" and later had to be rescued off a hillside.

Bothy Watch aims to raise awareness and keep the buildings free from damage.

Bothy Image copyright Brian Barclay
Image caption The Bothy Watch initiative wants to ensure the buildings are used for the purpose they are intended for

A wide range of groups including Forestry and Land Scotland, the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA), local authorities and mountain rescue team volunteers are involved in the initiative.

The MBA maintains 11 bothies across southern Scotland.

Police said the main purpose of the buildings was to provide warmth and shelter when the Scottish weather took a turn for the worse or for an overnight stop on a long distance trek.

PC Samantha Briggs Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption PC Samantha Briggs said new users were being attracted to the bothies

"For years these buildings have been a valuable and in fact quite a social resource for hill walkers and cyclists, with many reliant upon them on their long distance trekking routes," said PC Samantha Briggs, who is leading the initiative.

"Nowadays there is a wealth of information available online about their locations and as a result they have become generally more accessible.

"This trend for the bothy has attracted a different type of user and we are concerned that health and safety on the hills is compromised and the integrity of the bothy lost."

She said incidents like the one where hillwalkers had been denied access by revellers were of "real concern".

Bothy Image copyright Peter McDermott
Image caption The structures are dotted across the south of Scotland

"By working together with our partners who regularly access these properties we hope to spread the message that bothies are not law-free zones," she added.

"Regular checks will be carried out to the buildings and monitoring of any vehicles parked in restricted zones."

Peter King, MBA's area organiser for southern Scotland, said it welcomed the initiative.

Bothy Image copyright Brian Barclay
Image caption Anyone witnessing a crime at one of the sites is being urged to report it

"The MBA has developed a code of practice for bothy users, based on respect for the building, the surrounding environment and other users," he said.

A copy of the code is found in each bothy and also on their website.

"We have also recently appointed an education officer tasked with considering what further action we can take to spread the message about responsible use," he added.

Any crimes can be reported via their website or directly to the police.

Bothy Image copyright Mark Nightingale
Image caption The buildings have become "more accessible" according to police

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