Outdoor enthusiasts will again be able to use bothies in England. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Outdoor enthusiasts will again be able to use bothies in England. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Buildings in England that are in the care of the Mountain Bothies Association will reopen to the public from Monday.

But those situated in Scotland and Wales will remain closed, as more stringent government restrictions in those nations remain in place.

Visitors to 11 English bothies will be expected to act responsibly and follow health guidelines. Wainhope Bothy in Northumberland will not reopen until September, for conservation reasons.

The MBA charity said it was reopening the bothies in England with the agreement of the buildings’ owners, following the UK Government’s announcement of the lifting of statutory restrictions.

It added: “In Scotland and Wales, some statutory restrictions that apply in the bothy situation remain in effect – in particular restrictions on the number of people from different households who can meet in an indoor space – and bothies there will continue to be unavailable for public use.

“However, we are hopeful that this situation will change in the near future and we will make a further announcement when that happens.

“Covid-19 has not gone away and governments are advising that everyone should remain vigilant and continue to take precautions to stop the further spread of the virus. We are therefore asking bothy users to make their own risk assessment before deciding to visit one of the bothies that are now available and to exercise personal responsibility while they are there.”

MBA chairman Simon Birch said: “Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have adopted the position that our shelters are closed and we would like to thank all those responsible MBA members and the general public who have complied with that request.

“Use of a bothy has always been ‘at the risk of the user’. This is particularly important now, and that is why we request that visitors use MBA bothies in a responsible manner and follow our guidelines. By doing so, they will help to protect themselves and others.”

Anyone wanting to use one of the bothies should follow the MBA’s guidance:

  • Make themselves aware of, and follow, current government health guidelines
  • Not to set off to visit a bothy if they have symptoms. It is recommended they also take a lateral flow test even if they don’t have symptoms
  • Always take a tent to sleep in if others are present
  • Take and use personal PPE, ie face masks and sanitising fluid
  • Ventilate the building by opening windows and doors, while remembering to shut the door when they leave
  • When leaving the bothy, take with them everything that they have brought in, including rubbish, so that the potential to leave the virus on the surface of bothy discard is eliminated
  • Follow the bothy code and always be respectful, courteous, and tolerant of others.

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 103 bothies and two emergency shelters, 84 in Scotland, 12 in northern England and 9 in Wales.

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