TAC 34 Index
An access headache about which one hears an increasing number of worrying tales is the question of the mis-use of bothies for wild drinking and druggie parties, usually by what one would describe as "non-hill-going" types. The following story - enacted in August this year - relates to a west coast bothy, situated two hours' walk from the nearest road. A group of four 18-24 year-olds walked in on a Friday, equipped with 140 bottles of beer, some vodka, and an air-rifle; the father of one of them assisted with the portering. They drank all Friday, much of the night, and a good deal of Saturday; in between times, they ran around outside, "playing" with the air-rifle, and managed to hit three of their number with pellets.
On the Saturday they were joined by a party of genuine outdoor types, there for a legitimate weekend of canoeing, fishing, bothying, and beach-barbecuing. Disharmony intensified as the evening went on, and reached crisis-point when the canoeists returned after a midnight capsizing incident, with wet, tired, and shocked members who had spent over an hour in the water and survived a potentially life-threatening situation. The drinkers showed no sympathy, continuing to drink and shout, playing their ghettoblaster at top volume and ignoring reasonable requests to moderate their behaviour.
It took until about five a.m. for the "good guys" to reach an unspoken, unrehearsed, but unanimous decision. Their two tallest and heaviest-built members slowly and deliberately got out of their sleeping-bags, slowly and deliberately got dressed, and slowly and deliberately removed the batteries from the ghettoblaster, challenged the opposition to get them back, emptied out the remains of the vodka, relocated the opposition's belongings to outside the bothy, "appropriated" the rifle, and rendered it unfit for further service.
One would like to report that they then knocked the hell out of the drinkers - there are many who would have done just that. In fact, though "reasonable force" was used, huge restraint was also shown. The "bad guys" were driven over the horizon, after which hostilities then ceased.
TAC readers, and members of the various countryside management organisations, are invited to comment on this problem. The sort of incident recounted is not rare, and those of us involved in recreational management must give serious thought to how we should be responding. Sooner or later, a violent incident is going to occur, either within the ranks of the "loony fringe", or between the "goodies" and the "baddies".
TAC 34 Index