Definition of hut
A hut is described in the 2014 Scottish Planning Policy as:
“A simple building used intermittently as recreational accommodation (ie. not a principal residence); having an internal floor area of no more than 30m2; constructed from low impact materials; generally not connected to mains water, electricity or sewerage; and built in such a way that it is removable with little or no trace at the end of its life. Huts may be built singly or in groups.”
Scotland is seeing a resurgence of interest in hutting, as more and more people feel a need to connect with the land in a sustainable and meaningful way. In 2011 Reforesting Scotland started their 1000 huts project to help bring back lost huts across Scotland.
SCOTLANDS LOST HUTTING HERITAGE
The history of hutting in Scotland is largely associated with a working class movement that developed early in the 20th century when small holiday huts began to be built on land close to Scotlandʼs main industrial cities. The best known of these sites is in Stirlingshire, where 140 huts and a thriving population of hutters remain. The origins of the this hut site were based on providing access to green spaces for returning soldiers from the First World War. Huts were also used by crofters for hundreds of years, who would have "summer sheilings" where they would move to graze their livestock in summer and cut the peats for winter fuel. Some of these were on wheels.
Simple, rustic buildings have long been central to Scotland’s cultural heritage. From shielings to mountain bothies and shepherds’ huts, they have played a crucial role as lively, temporary containers for music, poetry, learning, celebration, retreat, work and family time in Scotland’s countryside.
Our aim is simple; we want to help travellers shape the future of Highland crofting by regaining Scotland's hutting past, all the while relaxing and recharging themselves off grid in budget friendly, unique, accommodation.
Our project marries the future of our family with the past of crofting; giving both a new direction, and the environment protection.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
In the Highlands the future of crofting is uncertain, and therefore unattractive to young people. In addition to overall population numbers the demographic profile of the Highlands and Islands, compared to the rest of Scotland, is older, has a trend towards an ageing population, and of particular significance, has an under-representation of young people aged 15-30. If the Highlands and Islands had the same demographic profile as the rest of Scotland there would be an additional 18,000 young people in the 15 and 30 age range within the region.
This is largely to do with the need to leave the Highlands for tertiary education, followed by a lack of industry to allow them to return afterwards.
We want to create a business on our croft that allows our children a future in the Highlands, should they want it. We hope it provides employment for other young people as cleaners and maintenance staff, receptionists, and social media marketeers. We want it to teach skills to young people through construction, maintenance and marketing of the huts, and we especially want it to be sustainable and low impact on the environment.
We are on the East coast of the NC500, Scotlands answer to Route 66 and the second best route in the world after the same. There is an outrageous shortage of accommodation on this part of the route, with people regularly having to sleep in cars as they don't realise the need to book in advance and "wing it". Throughout Scotland there is less budget priced accommodation than any other type. We can also address these two problems with this project.
HOW WE FIX THIS
We want to alleviate the pressure of these problems in the Kyle of Sutherland area of the NC500, by making these huts ourselves - in this way we can afford to have a flat rate across the year that is budget friendly, and in turn that gives the opportunity to experience what we have to offer to many more travellers. By recycling materials we can also save on cost, as well as reduce the environmental impact of other local businesses waste such as pallets, tyres, old display items in retail, and items bound for land fill.
We will also be supporting small businesses by purchasing from them a lot of materials that must be new in order for the hut to be a safe experience. This will include products from our partners on other diversified crofts now growing tea and making skin care products.
We will use a program of workers who come to us to use their skills, and in return see the area, and experience cultural exchange which will further advertise the benefits of diversified crofting to a wider, global, audience.
Both of our girls, aged 18 and 6 years, are involved in the project from hammering their first nails, to making regular updates on social media, cleaning the hut we already have and seeing in the guests. They will grow up with this as "their" business in every sense and a complete knowledge of how it runs from the very start. Should they want to leave the Highlands for education and training they will have something to return to that can support them and their own families in future, with the understanding that diversification and environmentalism will always be key. It is our hope that this will be a great example to future crofting generations.
WHY SUPPORT OUR ATTEMPT
We really believe we have what it takes. Between us we have a collection of skills acquired from running eight outdoor based businesses, one of which was shortlisted for an award for innovation. We have a lifetime of work, and family history, in tourism and agriculture including working as a self catering property inspector across the whole of Highland region
We are SO passionate about the environment, Scotland, the Highlands and the area included in the NC500. We promote the NC500 in a group with almost 12,000 members on facebook, and love to make it accessible to all.
Our first hut had reached its year 3 target within two and a half months of opening in 2017, and it has taught us what more we can provide to make the experience unforgettable.
More than anything we love working together, we are a team and a family, and we are fully committed to caring for each other and our croft. Travellers and helpers are adopted into our clan during their stay, and we look forward to that expansion and all that 2018 promises with your support.
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