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Get ready: A hutting revolution is coming

FRIENDS, countrymen, lend me your eras.

That's right, you heard correctly. For we're on the verge of a brand new one. You say: "I've heard that before. It'll just be a new era loosely based on all the old eras. That is to say, rubbish." Now, don't be like that.

If life has been getting you down, this could be the era for you. Actually, I fear I've built this up a bit much now, so nimbly as a cunning pixie I shall shift the blame on to Ninian Stuart, director of Reforesting Scotland and one of the Thousand Huts campaign's founders, who ululated thus: "We believe the provision in the new Scottish Planning Policy hails a new era for the revival of hutting in Scotland."

See: new era. You say: "Of huts? Huh!" Well, what did you think it was going to be? Independence or something? No, this is something that even Scottish people should be able to cope with.

So hail, hail, the huts are here. Or will be shortly. I hope. The new planning policy mentioned recommends that rural development plans accommodate huts for recreational use.

That means it should be easier to build the low-impact retreats and for folk to have little havens. The problem? Surely we're going to need tens of thousands.

There's a huge demand out there. Not being as other men, Scots could never do the Scandinavian or Continental European or Eastern European thing of leaving the weekday hullabaloo behind and heading to somewhere simple in the country. And I don't mean once a year, but most weekends.

However, as soon as the planning policy was put out for consultation by the Scottish Government, a pent-up explosion of interest erupted, with idealists, poets, academics, builders and architects clamouring in favour. Soft and hard hats were as one: we want huts.

In February, a Hutters Gathering in Edinburgh was hugely oversubscribed, and a rally on July 12 at Glasgow's Maryhill Burgh Halls is likely to be similarly heaving, so if you want a ticket get your name doon noo (www.thousandhuts.org).

There are plans to set up a Hutters' Federation, and a palpable sense of excitement that, regardless of whatever other disappointments this year might bring, something hopeful and positive is getting through.

Negative myself by nature, I reiterate my fear that demand is going to outstrip ability to supply by a factor of humungous-to-one (as far as I can see, the only concrete - wrong word - plan at the moment is for 10 huts in Fife). But, optimistic, if conflicted, as I am by nature, I'm sure this cannot be beyond the wit of man or even Scotsman.

To relax amidst nature's bosky charms is something we all crave. And, oh, to have a haven. Unless you've wads of cash, you're never going to have that in your main place of residence. I've spent my entire adult life dreaming about it and never achieved it. Not even before my bank balance was printed in dripping red and decorated with skulls-and-crossbones was it do-able. It's not possible in suburbs, villages or islands.

You say: "What aboot the Broons? They had a but 'n' ben and somebody called Hen, ken." Ah ken, but the Broons are Scotia's equivalent of other countries' Olympians or Asgardians. They are gods. They're not real.

For a real taste of hutting's joys, let Morven Gregor bring you down to earth from one of the few such dwellings in Scotland: "It's absolutely magical there, being part of the green woodland," she told The Herald about her hut at Carbeth, near Glasgow.

Fellow Carbethite Frances Higson wrote in New Start magazine: "[When] the pavements stop and the houses disappear, making way for fields and the winding Stockiemuir Road, my heart begins to sing."

Bejasus, I feel like singing myself but haven't the money to pay the fine and court costs that would inevitably follow. All my buttons are lighting up here.

There's light at the end of the tunnel for hutters. After such a depressing year, in which Scots have been told daily all the things we cannae dae, here's something good that's actually starting to happen. Happy New Era, folks.

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