El Alamein Bothy Cairngorms – any information,is someone working on it ?

El Alamein bothy summer

Many will know that I have written on the old bothy of El Alamein in the Cairngorms it is in a wild place so near from the ski area yet it can be a place of peace especially in winter. I have written on this place a lot in my blog and a quick search will update you on some of the bothy history. It is hidden amongst the boulders and can be so camouflage unless you know exactly where it is in poor weather. It is a fun place to navigate to and in such an unusual spot for a bothy.


2015 Great views of El Alamein Bothy Dec in winter this is a hard place to find in a typical Cairngorm winter day?

This is a comment I got on my blog can anyone help

“Fascinating reading about the history of these refuges. During several visits last summer / autumn , sorry to be vague but don’t have exact dates I found the refuge had been repaired

Someone had carried in materials and patched up the roof on the east facing side and the door has been repaired now and back to being closed.

I have asked lots of people including knowledgeable staff up Cairngorm but nobody knows who did this.Can you shed any light on this one ?

I was just skiing there yesterday and checked it out again. My sentiments are it should remain as it is a memorial to those men who lost their lives at El Alamein .

My grandfather was one of those men from the Black Watch . It is a special place of outstanding beauty and a great place to appreciate the sheer beauty of the Cairngorms .

I have been there a few times with my wee lassie Anna and we have proudly remembered Sergeant John Cameron .
Colin Hutt

Anyone got an updated photo and any idea who is working /fixing the bothy?

The El Alamein’s bothy  a few notes

El Alamein bothy in the Cairngorms location was accidental – intended to be sited at the plateau’s edge just above the gently sloping grassy Coire na Spreidhe (Coire of the Cattle), a mistake in the map reference saw it constructed some distance beneath this coire, on the steep and boulder-strewn slopes of Strath Nethy. This is a lovely part of the Cairngorms with great views of Strath Nethy and Loch Avon. It is a place to sit and enjoy the views and peace away from the industrial Ski area.  It is amazing what wild life you see so close to this busy area but in summer it is usually peaceful and enjoyable.

A small line of tiny (now largely collapsed) never found them cairns lead down towards it, but even on a good day these would be difficult to discern from the other piles of rock which are abundant in this area. Other incidents influenced matters too. In November 1972, there was the so-called Cairngorm Tragedy when seven children in a school party perished in the winter weather. The subsequent Fatal Accident Inquiry concluded that the existence of Curran Bothy caused the school party to head for it to spend the night, and hence if it had not been there they would not have headed for it and not gone on and perished. There are other arguments against bothies on the highly vulnerable plateau.

The plateau bothies, the Curran Bothy and the St Valery were demolished and the El Alamein left to its own devices. Jean’s Hut and the Sinclair Hut have gone, for various reasons. The Fords of Avon bothy on land owned by the RSPB has recently been rebuilt, but not for overnight accommodation. Basically it is an emergency shelter for those marooned while crossing the Lairig and Loaigh. It has been credited with saving several lives over the years. Whatever your views these places were and are part of the history of this place and make a good navigation exercise locating where they were and how they affected this wild area, #

This is from Ray Sefton the guru of the Cairngorms – ”

However, I have to make a minor correction to the history of the bothies. They were not built by the 51st Highland Division, but in memory of the Division. They were built by the Artificer Apprentices from HMS Caledonia, Rosyth, led by CSM Jim Curran of the Royal Marines. Jim married a local girl and lived in Aviemore for many years. The metal work for the El Alamein, Curran, St Valery and Fords of Avon were made in the workshops at Rosyth and carried to the sites as part of adventure training exercises and the walls were then built. I think the reason the El Alemain survived is that it was located in Inverness-shire, whereas the others were in Moray or Banffshire.”

Thanks Ray Sefton!

The plaque for the St Valery Refuge is worth trying to find what a location it is in and makes an interesting search for a group in Summer but in winter.. You wonder how many stories of nights in these wee bothies in the past. I spent a couple of nights in the 70’s as it was a great area for a night Exercise and a part that few of the Team knew. It would be hard to find in the days before GPS and many times it was very hard work to locate.


Ptarmigan so well hidden in the ground.

It is as I said a great place to spot wild life and the many ptarmigan that live in this area are hard to spot especially during the nesting season. Be aware where you are walking as their camouflage is incredible, it is easy to stand on a nesting bird such is their dedication to their young. Please be as careful as you can not to disturb the nesting birds.


This is not a barren wasteland but a place of great beauty and solitude.

Enjoy it. I hope to get out this summer again and enjoy this place.

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Books, Bothies, Enviroment, Friends. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to El Alamein Bothy Cairngorms – any information,is someone working on it ?

  1. Heavy, Coron and I visited El Alamein Refuge on Remembrance Sunday 2014. Part of the roof was missing, (heavy stones fallen off the “cage” frame. The door was intact but the catch was either broken of missing. The refuge was clean. You may recall that I asked if you had any idea where the large piece of red aluminium had come from. I never got around to asking Sunch!

    My opinion, retain/rebuild the refuge but don’t place it’s location back onto the OS Map. I understand that being in Strathspey, a different district to the other bothies removed many years ago, El Alamein was simply ignored and removed from the OS Map. Rgds Davie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ray Sefton (Sunshine) says:

    For Davie Walker. In the late 1960s a pilot landed a light aircraft at the top of Coire na Ciste. He thought that light aircraft would be useful in mountain rescue. Due to the damage on landing the aircraft never took off again. I believe the red aluminium is from the wreck. It has been there for as long as I can remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joyce Gordon says:

    Maybe someone has already given you this info but I searched my Facebook as I knew I had seen someone saying that there were people maintaining this shelter. Hope it’s useful.

    Hugh Hackney for anyone interested in keeping el- alamein bothy in good shape, i have a group aimed at this…


  4. Jim Fraser says:



  5. Jim Fraser says:

    Spent Saturday night in El Alamein after the SMR AGM and a huge struggle against the wind across Cairngorm summit and 1141. Still as I left it previously with something resembling a roof and the door working OK! It’s been a mild winter though so it hasn’t had much of a battering. Since I re-did the roof and filled in some bits of wall. It still needs some loving care and attention but it is enough to provide some shelter especially from Westerlies. I hear there is a some cladding going spare just now from some English councils. In spite of its reputation on tower blocks, that stuff would actually be good for an intermediate layer of protection at El Alamein.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Scraggygoat says:

    Blimey Jim that was a close ‘sitting-room-only-at-the-inn’ call, my partner and I looked in at El Almanien late Saturday afternoon having come round the tops from Derry Lodge, and thought about putting our heads down there, but then headed straight down into the strath and onwards to Fords of Avon. Which was also occupied (unbeknown to us by friends we hadn’t seen for twenty years), so we skirted past it and settled for the new half of Faindouran.

    Of minor interest; about 20-30ft below El Almanien there is a drystone built bench looking out over Strathy Nethy.

    Liked by 1 person

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