Across much of Europe, weekends and holidays see thousands of families head out to their hytte, hydda, cabaña or dacha – in other words, their hut – to recharge their batteries and spend time in nature without the distractions of city life. There used to be a hutting tradition in Scotland too – think of the Broons with their but ‘n’ ben – but strict building regulations and a lack of access to land saw it almost go extinct. Recently, there has been a revival, with a new planning category in Scots law for huts, making them cheaper and easier to build and planning permission easier to get. This new Scottish hutting tradition aims to have sustainability built in from the start, with huts defined as simple, small structures, built of natural materials, off-grid and able to be removed without trace at the end of their lives. Huts are usually built in rural areas close to towns or cities, often in woodlands.
After pioneering the change in the law, Reforesting Scotland has worked to remove barriers and make huts available to all, but one group that could benefit most from hutting presently has little chance of getting one. The time in contact with nature that huts bring has been shown time and again to relieve stress and promote healing, both physical and mental. Unfortunately, people suffering from challenges like illness, disability and caring responsibilities have little chance of getting through the additional challenges of finding land, getting planning permission and building a hut. This was brought home to one of our members after he was diagnosed with cancer, putting an end to his dreams of building a small hut of his own.
The Hut of Wellbeing is that member’s answer to this problem. It would be owned by Reforesting Scotland, but open to people referred by care organisations for a weekend or midweek break. It would be built within an existing hutting community in Fife, which would help to support both the hut and the hutters. Reforesting Scotland has been working with the hutting community, Fife Carers Centre and others to design a hut and raise funds to build and run it.
You can find out more about hutting at the website of the Thousand Huts Campaign.
You can find out more about the Hut of Wellbeing, and donate to our crowdfunder for it at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/hut-of-wellbeing