Bothy project in heart of Deeside

Work on the first six bothies started last November
Work on the first six bothies started last November

A forest bothy development is under way in the heart of Royal Deeside.

Up to 18 bothies could be built in 870-acre Blelack Estate near Aboyne over the next three years.

Cairngorm Bothies has been granted planning permission to build ‘a unique Highland retreat’ in a £600,000 project.

Work on the first six bothies started last November, with the first phase due for completion next month, ready for opening at the start of the new season in April.

There are also plans to install another dozen during 2022. The development is expected to support six jobs in the region.

It has been designed by local architect Gerry Robb Architectural Design Services and constructed by local builder, Scott Duthie Joinery Limited, with interiors by freelance designer Shirley Forbes.

To minimise environmental impact, the foundations are constructed using a ground screw method which minimises the impact to tree roots and soil disturbance within the 100-year old Scottish pine forest.

Powered by a solar farm and with water sourced from a purpose-built bore hole tapping into an underground reservoir, the self-sustaining development will be entirely off grid.

Each bothy will feature a wood burning, hot plate stove oven, making use of waste products from surrounding forestry operations.

A number of bothies will also be fully equipped with disabled facilities and be custom-built for wheelchair access.

The location is popular with dog owners, keen hillwalkers, cyclists and families.

Cairngorm Bothies will be a sister development to the established Cairngorm Lodges, which has five luxury cabins.

Alan Benton, Cairngorm Lodges manager, said: “The bothies have been designed to fit within their surrounds perfectly.

“Protecting local wildlife and improving the surrounding landscape, whilst supporting the local community has always been extremely important to us.

“We are committed to create a sustainable, vibrant, viable and functioning tourist destination as ethically and as environmentally friendly as possible.

“We want our visitors to enjoy and appreciate a bio-diverse environment while exploring everything the area has to offer.”

Since opening in 2011, Cairngorm Lodges has welcomed more than 4,000 guests from across the globe, travelling from as far as Australia.