TOURISTS are causing a headache for the custodian of a remote Highlands hut used by mountaineers and hillwalkers – by swamping him with emails and phone calls requesting to rent it out “as a holiday home”. 

Lagangarbh Hut sits at the head of Glen Coe beneath Buachaille Etive Mor near the River Coupall and is regarded as one of the most “picture perfect” photography locations in Scotland

It has featured in films and TV adverts, graced calendars, appeared on shortbread biscuit tins, and even been named in a worldwide list of 16 houses “built in seemingly impossible locations”. The list includes the Paro Taktsang Monastery in Bhutan and a remote hideaway in Norway’s Arctic archipelago. 

Originally a crofter’s home, “the wee white house in Glen Coe”, is owned by the National Trust it has been occupied and maintained by the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) since 1946.

Applications to stay at the hut are only accepted from mountaineering and hillwalking clubs and the outdoor fraternity. 

Yet its growing popularity in the Instagram age means that Honorary Custodian Bernard M Swan has been inundated with requests from “rude” tourists to book it, despite their inability to do so. 

He told The Herald: “The Scottish Mountaineering Club leases Lagangarbh from the National Trust for Scotland. We just lease it, we’ve had it since 1946. If you Google Lagangarbh you will see there is a travel blogger there who has done a whole history of Lagangarbh and all the rest of it.  

“But she’s put a direct link straight on to the SMC website that goes straight on to my email and everything, and I get inundated with quite a lot of people thinking they can just phone up and book this place. It happens fairly regularly. 

“They can’t do that. It’s only available to mountaineering and hillwalking clubs and related members to the mountaineering associations and such. Sometimes you get a bit ‘peed off’ because some of them are a bit rude with you. ‘Oh, why can I not stay there?’ some ask. ‘Well, you can’t’.

"And I get emails from folk all around the world wanting to stay there. You get enquiries from people who just think it’s a holiday home. 

“The West Highland Way goes past it, so there’s that as well. You get folk phoning you up and saying, ‘Can I get a bed for the night?’ It’s just not possible. 

“Folk go on to the SMC website to look at it. And if you bring up huts and Lagangarbh you will see the whole facility on that. It tells you there it’s available only to climbing clubs and hillwalking clubs.” 

It’s the same tourists he happily encounters on his frequent trips to the hut, posing for selfies and photos outside. 

He said: “I’m up there every other weekend and the number of people that come up just to photograph that part of the country… it’s the whole aspect of the place. 

“It’s fantastic. There is a bit of history of the house too. It was a crofting house at one time. The only other building SMS has that’s as spectacular is the one in Ben Nevis, the Charles Inglis Clark Memorial hut. That’s purely climbers and mountaineers that go up there too.” 

Despite its remote location, Mr Swan, who “looks after” Lagangarbh and deals with general maintenance requirements, says it is “just like going into a normal house”, thanks to a £50,000 plus refurbishment that took place in the last year. 

“It’s got one shower, two toilets, a drying room, all electric heating, kitchen. It’s got everything”, he added. 

And as well as declining requests from tourists who seem to be hell-bent on staying at Lagangarbh, Mr Swan is also responsible for dealing with all the bookings from those who are able to make use of the hut, which he says means the hut is occupied “literally every weekend”. 

When asked if he thinks it should remain a property that can be booked only by mountaineering and hillwalking clubs, his response was clear: “Without a doubt. It’s been around for use for other clubs and such like for a long, long time. It’s used every weekend.  And sometimes during the week it gets used too. 

“They’ve got to come through me, and that’s even the SMC members have to come through me to stay in it. You can’t just go there. Even club members can’t just walk in. I even get the mountaineering fraternity from abroad asking to stay at it. Some from Austria and stuff like that.” 

With Lagangarbh’s remote and stunning location proving no barrier to visitors from across the world, Mr Swan’s song will continue to fall on deaf ears. And all the while his phone rings on.