An Cladach on the eastern coast of Islay. Photo: MBA

An Cladach on the eastern coast of Islay. Photo: MBA

A remote Hebridean shelter is being taken out of the care of the Mountain Bothies Association.

The owners of An Cladach bothy on Islay will run a booking system, with a small charge, when the building reopens after coronavirus lockdown.

The building, south of Port Askaig on the eastern shore of the island, is owned by the Dunlossit Estate.

The MBA said: “Following some issues over the past few years, the estate believe that they have a responsibility to put in place special arrangements for visitors including advance booking.

“The bothy will not, therefore, reopen as an MBA-maintained bothy following the removal of Covid restrictions. Instead, the estate intends to complete a number of improvement works and then reopen in 2022.

“Dunlossit Estate will maintain and administer the bothy themselves and offer visits through a booking system at a nominal charge, with 50 per cent of booking income to be donated to a new MBA Argyll and Bute Bothy Maintenance Fund which the estate is setting up this year.

“This arrangement will allow the estate to know when the bothy is occupied and by whom so that if, for example, an emergency situation occurred, the emergency services could be given full details.”

MBA Chairman Simon Birch said “I would like to express the association’s gratitude to Dunlossit Estate for allowing us to maintain An Cladach since 1999.

“While we have lost some bothies during our 55 years existence, they have been more than compensated for by the number that we have gained. Indeed, we have a number of exciting new projects in the pipeline.”

The bothies charity agreed in 1999 to the closure of An Cladach for six months each year, during the stalking season. It also said at the time any potential visitors should contact the estate office before heading to the site.

The MBA was established in 1965, and has about 4,300 members. With the consent and support of their owners, it undertakes the restoration and maintenance of old cottages, huts and similar buildings throughout the wilder parts of Scotland, England and Wales for use as open shelters for walkers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

It currently maintains 105 bothies and two emergency shelters; 86 in Scotland, 12 in northern England and nine in Wales.

Use of the bothies under the care of the MBA is free, but all its buildings are currently closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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