The Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) have released a statement to remind commercial businesses to not use their maintained bothies for planned overnight stops.
The charity said they are concerned about an increasing number of businesses, including guided tours and adventure holidays, using or intending to use bothies they maintain. They said this unpermitted use could affect the sustainability of the bothy network, and be damaging to legitimate bothy users.
The MBA said:
- Our Bothy Code states that “Bothies are not available for commerical groups” and bothy owners expect use to operate in accordance with the Code. There have been occasions when an owner has threatened to close a bothy if we fail to act to prevent further use in this way.
- There have been incidents when legitimate bothy users have been made to feel unwelcome, inconvenienced or even refused entry when commercial groups have been in residence.
- Our volunteers who maintain bothies, not unreasonably, feel aggrieved to know that their hard work is contributing to the profits of a business that probably does not support our organisation in any way.
- There could be a financial downside too. Local authorities, who levy business rates on bothies, provide 100% relief payment, which could be withdrawn if the buildings are used for commercial purposes.
MBA trustee and owner liaison officer Roger Muhl explains: “We do not wish to hide the existence and purpose of bothies from the customers of outdoor activities businesses. There is always the possibility that some may be sufficiently interested to join MBA and, better still, become one of our volunteers whose work is key to the success of the bothy network.
“Daytime visits to bothies for lunch etc. are not a problem nor is seeking shelter in the event of a genuine emergency. It is planned overnight stays by commerical groups that are not permitted.
“When we have evidence of use or intended use by commercial organisations, we write to them asking them not to do so and to remove reference to bothy visits from their advertising. Around half of those in receipt of such letters respond by apologising that they were unaware of this restriction.
“We hope that this reminder will provide other proprietors and employees of outdoor activity businesses with a better understanding of the difficulties that can arise when they stay in MBA bothies.”