Saturday, January 07, 2012

Scottish campaigners set out to revive hutting in 2012 | UK news | The Guardian


Gerry Loose calls it "the long view". Standing a few yards from his moss-carpeted wooden hut in a Stirlingshire forest, Loose gestures towards the hill-line of the Campsie Fells, their peaks and flanks dusted with snow. The air is crisp, sharpened by the winter chill.

The hut is Loose's retreat from urban Glasgow. Built about 80 years ago, its weathered green paint now peeling, the cabin has three small rooms and an outdoor privy built from salvaged timber. Still lit by prewar gas lamps, it has no electricity, no mains water and a brisk walk takes him to the nearest standpipe, which frequently freezes in winter.

Proud to be a "hutter", Loose is a leading member of a new campaign called A Thousand Huts which has sprung up to champion and revive hutting as a way of life. Widespread in Scandinavia, its supporters say hutting promotes low-impact, ecological living and rural regeneration, and puts city dwellers back in contact with the countryside.

In 2012, hutters, landowners and environmental activists will launch a new Scottish hutting federation to spearhead a campaign aimed at reforming planning and land rights laws, to give hutters proper status in the planning system and protect them against eviction and exploitation by landlords.

As the secretary for the Carbeth Hutters in Stirlingshire, Scotland's best-known and largest hutting colony, Loose says the attractions are immediate and obvious. A poet, playwright and garden designer, he and his daughter Marie first got their hut 13 years ago as a weekend retreat and an escape from Maryhill, a tough neighbourhood in north Glasgow.

"I was living in a 22-storey high-rise and the local lads were fond of Buckfast [tonic wine]; a lot of broken glass around. I had a wee daughter. I didn't necessarily want her to see this was the only possible way to live in the world," Loose said. "And just getting the hut meant that there was an avenue of escape; just mooching about, getting away from the city.

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