What, not again?! How did it happen? The words were out of my mouth and down the phone lines before I could measure what their impact might be.
Davie then recounted the tale where two regular users of Bob Scott's Bothy in Glen Lui were lucky to escape with just minor burns. The two had been outside the bothy whilst the fire was lit and when they returned to the interior the floor was well alight. The fire had spread quickly on a floor that had seen its fair share of paraffin spills from countless primmy stoves over the years. Despite their best efforts, they lost the fight with the fire and along with all of their belongings the bothy burnt down completely, leaving only a breeze block shell.
The two concerned were not just passers by. They had been regular users and were very familiar with the bothy and the surrounding country. One of them had helped in the maintenance groups over the years. They also represented a different generation from the first Bob Scott's that stood alongside Luibeg cottage 500m away, so to them this was the only Scotty's that they knew.
Bob Scott's Mark II was therefore gone. I had personally been involved in the negotiations and planning of the building back in 1986 when it was re-built from its original site. Irrational as it may sound, I had an emotional attachtment to a building and felt like I had just lost a friend. For those unaware of the history and heritage of Bob Scott's Bothy, the following may help.
Bob Scott was the last stalker to reside at Luibeg on the Mar Lodge Estate. Bob and the bothy he made available to climbers and hill walkers was well known and appreciated for twenty years up to his retirement in 1972. Well after this and his move away from Luibeg, the bothy remained open and maintained by local climbers & walkers up until its destruction by fire in 1986. The bothy, and the many stories associated with its users have been well documented in Scottish litreture over the years.
With the support of the estate owner at that time, (Mr Panchaud), the estate factor and the local planning authority, the bothy was rebuilt on its new site 500m to the East, on the opposite side of The River Lui. Despite estate ownership changes over the years, here it stayed in harmony with its environment until its recent loss by fire in December 2003. Bob Scott was a character that was not easily forgotten and his spirit has lived on in the fabric of the building and in the users who enjoyed its shelter over the last 50 years.
In no time at all a few of those regular users met to consider a reconstruction and only 3 weeks after the fire a group of 50 met in Aberdeen as The Friends of Bob Scott's. What was apparent very quickly was the groundswell of opinion from the meeting and many others unable to make it that supported a reconstruction. We had received many e-mails, letters and calls, all asking when and not if, Bob Scott's would be rebuilt.
At that first evening it became apparent to me that there were different generations present. Some who remember the original bothy and were closely involved in its reconstruction at the new site, but others who were perhaps younger and played no part in this. This 'other generation' probably made more frequent visits and were closely involved in its maintenance since it was built. Together, this group mixed and moved on to a reconstruction plan.
By early April we had received verbal support from The Landowners, The National Trust for Scotland, Mar Lodge estate, Aberdeenshire District Council Planning authority and The Cairngorm National Park. We had also received some support from The North East Mountain Trust and a variety of other opinion formers. On the 27 th April The NTS Planning Committee met and gave support to a reconstruction and the formal planning application was drafted a few weeks later.
The plan is to rebuild Bob Scott's on exactly the same site, to the same dimensions and using the same materials. In an effort to reduce the fire risk, the heat source will be a 'pot belly' type of fire, a larger hearth and better insulation. It will be a requirement of the reconstruction that wood from the surrounding countryside, (dead or alive) will not be used. Therefore users will have to get used to carrying your coal supply in.
As we go to press The Friends of Bob Scott's are planning a number of fund raising activities, the first of which is an illustrated lecture from The author of 'Mountain Days and Bothy Nights, namely Ian R. Mitchell on Thursday 20th May at 7:00pm in The Jarvis Hotel, Market Street, Aberdeen. Financial assistance is always welcome and therefore cheques payable to 'Friends of Bob Scott's' c/o Charlie Ogg, 71 Forest Road Aberdeen AB15 4BJ.
Bob Scott's intention was to have an open bothy without locks that provided simple shelter from the elements and had its own heat source. He welcomed passers by and whether he intended it or not, he played a small part in encouraging past and present generations to enjoy the Scottish Mountains, particularly the Cairngorms. Its my view that as long as we have a place called Bob Scott's another generation can benefit from this and appreciate the outdoors to the same extent as the generation who remember him.
Ronnie Robb, 14th May 2004
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