Police Scotland have launched ‘Bothy Watch’ – an initiative to raise awareness of the issues surrounding remote bothies across the south of Scotland.
Eleven bothies maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association are spread across the southern part of Scotland. Bothies are typically situated in remote wilderness areas – the main purpose of these simple shelters is to provide warmth and shelter when our Scottish weather takes a turn for the worse or for an overnight stop on a long distance trek.
Reports of anti-social behaviour, vandalism and fire at bothies have raised concern over their use. In some cases, hillwalkers have been denied access to bothies due to the misuse of them.
The multi-agency initiative includes partners from Forestry and Land Scotland, Mountain Bothies Association (MBA), Local Authorities and Mountain Rescue Team volunteers with a focus on reducing crime in outlying areas, keeping the bothies free from damage and allowing them to be used for the purpose they are intended for.
PC Samantha Briggs, who is leading the initiative, explains, “Nowadays there is a wealth of information available online about bothy 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.
“We are aware of a report that genuine hillwalkers were prevented access to a bothy full of revellers. They were forced to continue on in bad weather and subsequently had to be rescued off the hillside. This is a real concern for us and we want to raise awareness to the consequences of not using these shelters correctly.”
Any crimes involving the bothies can be reported using the Bothy Report section on Mountain Bothies Association’s website, or alternatively by phoning Police Scotland on 101 (999 for emergency calls). Information can also be passed via the independent charity CrimeStoppers by calling 0800 555 111 where anonymity can be maintained.