Who remembers this ? Howffs

Photo – Andy Brooks Collection Moray Mountain Club Meet. The big Gully gives it away.

I can remember a few “howffs” that were built often near climbing areas. They were usually near or under big boulders below the crags . I remember one in the Cairngorms in Coire an’t Sneachda below the Mess of Pottage we located it on a search in the 70’s I never found it again! Off course the Cairngorms have many the old favourite is the Shelter Stone beside Loch Avon. There are a few other nearby !

Creag an Dubh Loch also has a few howff’s below the Big routes. I have wandered about and located a few in the past. Of course there is the Secret Bothy This is a wonderful little stone structure in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. … It has a romantic past, having been built in secret in 1952 by four climbers fed up with carrying the heavy tents of the day on the long walk into the Cairngorms. There’s is a great tale of the building of this howff. Their names are in the howff on a plaque on the wall.

The Cobbler, Ben Narnain and the Brack are famous for its howfs and many climbers in the past spent nights here. John Hinde an old pal told me many years ago they used to have “howfing meets” This was after his old pal Ben Humble used to tell him of the Howff’s under the Narnain and Cobbler boulders. There are great tales in many of the old climbing books of the climbers staying under the boulders well worth a read.

Most areas have howffs Skye has an abundance of them. There are a few Prince Charlie’s caves in some mountain areas. Of course there is the famous Cluny Cave at Creag Dubh near Newtonmore well worth a look.

What is your favourite howff it would be great to see any photos. Many thanks to Andy Brooks of the Moray Mountaineering Club for the use of his classic photo!

Where was it taken ?

Comments and photos especially welcome.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Who remembers this ? Howffs

  1. Al Todd says:

    It looks very like the now destroyed howff in Coire Ardair of Creag Meagaidh.


  2. Both little used these days, but there are the Smith-Winram and the Smith Dey in the Cairngorms.
    There also used to be a great wee two-man howff within 20 minutes of the Linn o’Dee. Used it a few times in the ’80s until an estate worker burnt it out and scattered the stones. Many years later I discovered that it was one of my bothy mates who had built it. A small world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stovieneil says:

    Aye Heavy.
    I used to frequent The Drey in Glen Coe in the later 80’s. it was a great wee place. Last time I was up to the door was well over 10 years ago and the roof was sound but the door broken and the inside gutted sadly.
    Also used a wee howff above the Shelter Stone which we called ‘Hell’s Gate’. It was a flattish shelf under a large boulder and was atmospheric to say the least! Fine for dryish weather But not a place for the winter.
    Quite a few others dotted about. Succoth Caves at Arrochar, Clova, Inchnadamph etc.
    I also searched in vain for ‘Jamie Murray’s Cave’ in Strath Nethy which I had been given a Grid Ref for. Did visit El Alamein A few times but never stayed.

    I have a wee hankering for a return to Hell’s Gate. Maybe next year!

    Liked by 1 person

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