Plans to revive hutting culture in Fife

The hutting site would be at Carnock Wood.
The hutting site would be at Carnock Wood.

Do you ever wish you could get away from the stresses of modern life?

When work gets tough and it feels like the walls are closing in, do you wish you could escape to the middle of nowhere, relax in peace and quiet and not have to think about anything at all?

It could soon be easier to do just that, both right here in Fife and further afield.

For plans are being submitted to build simple wooden huts in secluded areas across Scotland; one such facility is planned in Falkland, as part of a campaign to revitalise the culture of hutting.

A planning application has been submitted to Fife Council by Falkland Estate Trust, seeking permission to change the use of Cash Strip Wood from woodland to hutting.

The 50 hectare site, off the A912 to Strathmiglo, would accommodate 15 huts, each within a 15x15 metre or 10x20 metre plot of land.

They would be for private use by families and individuals and would not be connected to mains water, electricity or sewerage; heating would be provided by simple wood stoves.

Ninian Stuart, chairman of Falkland Estate Trust which owns the land, said it is likely the huts would be the first of their kind in Fife.

“In 2010 I had a challenging year and was pretty stressed,” he explained.

“With the help of a local carpenter we built my little hut. It’s my favourite place in the world. It’s a little place for an over-busy person.

“Within a year Reforesting Scotland had turned it into a campaign.

“The idea of a simple hut has been lost in modern times. It is to get away from the madness of life.”

Ninian knows first-hand that there are major benefits to the hutting lifestyle.

“There is something about getting away on your own to a quiet place,” he said.

“Somewhere you can relax and breathe more slowly and step into the natural world around us.

“We try to do more, to consume more – but there’s something to be said for just having a simple hut and living more simply.”

The Falkland site would be managed by individual hutters through the Hutters Association, and the group would adopt rules and guidance which each member would sign up to.

Another site in Fife which could soon be home to huts is Carnock Woods, west of Dunfermline.

The site is the first of the new era of hutting proposals to be given planning permission; it will serve as a pilot site for the Thousand Huts Campaign.

Launched in 2011, the aim of the campaign is to promote huts and hutting.

Donald McPhillimy, a core member of the Thousand Huts Campaign team, explained why Reforesting Scotland launched the scheme.

“We want to give everyone in Scotland the chance to have a hut,” he said.

“It’s quite normal in other countries but it’s limited in Scotland.

“There is a history of hutting in Scotland but it has died out in recent years.”

According to Donald, many hutting sites died out because there was just a verbal agreement with the landowner and the hutters.

To avoid this happening again, he said the campaign is making sure there is a proper contract in place so both sides are protected.

Donald is taking the lead on the pilot site at Carnock Wood and said the plans are progressing well.

“It’s the first site to have achieved planning permission,” he said.

“So we have permission for a dozen huts.

“We’re progressing well. We’ve got to the stage where we are going to hold a ballot this summer, which will decide who gets them.

“They will form a group and negotiate a lease. Once it’s signed the hutters can start building.

“There has already been a lot of interest.

“However, we’re holding an event in May in Dunfermline which will give people the chance to get more information and the chance to see the site.”

Two of the dozen huts have been reserved for people who live within three miles by road of the Carnock Woods site.

People who fit this criteria and would be interested in entering the ballot can do so by contacting the campaign through its website.

To read more about the campaign visit www.thousandhuts.org.