A community-owned eco bothy, years in the making, will finally open its doors next year.
Made from sustainable materials and nestled within the grounds of Greenmyres Farm, just off the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road, the hope is it will “transform” use of the wooded area.
It was back in 2015 that the Huntly and District Development Trust secure permission to breathe new life into the 63-acre site, which they’d bought the year before.
Dilapidated farm buildings were all that remained on the ground, near to the top of the Glens of Foudland.
Two years later, the trust outlined ambitious plans for a community-orientated eco bothy, to which the finishing touches are now being made.
The trust hopes it will be used by passing cyclists to shower and recover, for children’s groups to stay, for local businesses to conduct workshops, for Aberdeenshire artists to exhibit their work and even for intimate shows and gigs.
In addition, new paths are being constructed to link the eco-bothy to nearby forest trails and to Huntly – creating a one-and-a-half hour direct route from the town to the hilltop.
Donald Boyd, development manager with the trust, said: “It was a knackered site when we first bought it.
“The concept has changed over time – we have broadened out the vision for the community.
“We are quite proud of the journey we’ve been on over the last five years.
“People told us in their droves during consultation that they wanted a warm sheltered space with a kitchen and storage space – so that’s what we’ve done.
“And so far the response has been great.”
Once finished – the bothy is earmarked to open early next year – it will offer kitchen, shower and toilet facilities and an eco-bike rental station complete with charging points.
And more than 5,000 trees have been planted by the Trust so far to increase biodversity.
Huntly artist Carol Deadman, of Bahill Glass, has also been running stained glass workshops, in order to make a community panel to be permanently installed in the Greenmyres building.
The eco-bothy is being established near a community-owned wind turbine.
Greenmyres Renewable Energy, the wholly-owned trading subsidiary of Huntly and District Development Trust, announced the commissioning at Greenmyres, Drumblade, Huntly in 2016.
The turbine produces enough energy annually to power the equivalent of 300 Aberdeenshire homes and should generate income of about £2.5 million during its 20-year lifespan for community-based projects.
Mr Boyd added: “The idea from the get-go has been twofold. The wind turbine money goes straight back into community projects and the trust’s work.
“It gives us funding for the next 20 years and the freedom to develop the trust’s aims – to preserve history, be mindful of the environment and give back to local people.
“We can’t wait to get the eco-bothy open for people to enjoy.
“It will be a major milestone, but it is also just the next chapter.
“There’s plenty more on the horizon.”
Find out more about the trust’s work at www.huntlydevelopmenttrust.org.