My Drummuir Project

James Hunt, Bothanna Cabins ,
2 Sep 2020

James HuntBothanna Cabins are designers and makers of ethical off grid cabins and urban workspaces, offering both full bespoke design and build service as well as a range of pre designed, modular, mobile and moveable cabins. In this blog, James Hunt discusses his work conducted in partnership with Drummuir Estate.

 

It will have escaped the notice of very few that summer 2020 has, so far, been the summer of the staycation. Whilst some tension has arisen over litter leaving campers, most areas of Scotland have appeared to very much welcome UK visitors who have helped get rural businesses back up and running again following lockdown.

At the same time, the desire of many rural landowners to diversify and seek out additional sources of income has not diminished and those with their eye on customer demand are realising that off-grid, solitude, re-energising, ecological and sustainable are buzz words that truly get holiday makers interested.

During the summer of 2018, I put out a call via Scottish Land & Estates, seeking a landowner keen to work alongside me on a prototype, and entirely unique, accommodation concept.

The proposal was that, as part of their diversification offering, the landowner would work with me whilst I designed and built an off-grid ‘cabin’ on their land. I am an experienced craftsman but hadn’t yet built an off grid cabin in rural Scotland and so I needed a landowner who shared my key objectives -  to create a building which perfectly complemented the surrounding scenery, could be operated in a sustainable manner, and would ultimately deliver an additional income source.

After much interest from all corners of Scotland, I met up with Torquil Gordon-Duff, owner of the Drummuir Estate near Dufftown in Moray, who, from the start seemed to share my ethos.

Drummuir is a 4,000-hectare estate, owned and run by Torquil and his parents Alex and Priscilla. An estate of mixed arable and livestock, including large areas of commercial forestry and heather moorland, the Gordon-Duff family have long put sustainability at the heart of their ethos. The Home Farm is organic, producing milling oats and holding an organic sheep flock. The heather moorland now plays home to a wind farm, commercial offices have been created in a former steading, all heated using wood from the estate and the family give a great deal of time to land management, forestry and community engagement projects. They have worked with the community to upgrade the village hall and very much encourage the next generation of farmers within the farming side of the business.

Torquil manages the estate and was keen to work with me on further developing his ambitions to expand into high quality tourism offerings.

After much discussion, we eventually chose a site with dramatic views over a loch and looking south towards the Cairngorms. This site also benefits from a natural spring fed water supply and good access which made my delivery and installation much easier!

Bothanna’s bothy was designed to maximise space and give visitors a full appreciation of the site’s views. You enter the rear of the building underneath the mezzanine, with the shower room to the right and then the space opens up into an open plan living room kitchen with a fully glazed front elevation to view the stunning landscape. It truly is a sight to behold.

Dummuir viewThe prototype was built in our East Lothian workshop and studio in the summer of 2019 and on 26th September 2019 the day came for us to get it up onto a low loader. After an overnight journey, and a few nerves, the cabin was transferred to a trailer and pulled the last two miles along a single-track road to its final resting place.

Following an enforced Covid delay, the cabin finally opened to five-star reviews in July 2020.

Since then, myself and the team have been working with SLE members Kelburn Estate in North Ayrshire on another unique project developing a glamping site and hub.

If you have some land perfect for a wilderness retreat or you want to diversify and maximise your estate’s potential I should be very interested to discuss taking on additional commissions that prioritise sustainability of environment as well as the objectives of your estate business.  Just get in touch.

Find out more at www.bothannacabins.com

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