Are you thinking of setting up a hut site? In the next few months we hope to feature a range of experiences of people setting up hut sites under a variety of circumstances. The writer of this blog post, Louise Witter, is the owner of a large rural site near Lanark, South Lanarkshire, which she hopes will become the location of Scotland’s newest hutting community. She reveals her motives for her investment, the progress so far – and her plans for the future at The Encampment.
First thoughts: A sense of calm and purpose
The first time I visited the site in November 2017, I felt overwhelmed. It seemed massive. It wasn’t just the size of the site but it was the sudden realisation that this was going to be a huge project.
As I started wandering through the forest, looking out at the views of Tinto Hill, I felt a sense of calm.
I wondered if this was the ultimate form of mindfulness particularly for an urban dweller with an extremely demanding office job. I don’t think I had appreciated how restful and peaceful it could be when surrounded by nature.
I was able to envisage how a community of hutters might develop – and the benefits that could come from spending more time outdoors, removed from day to day life.
Investment and aims
The Encampment project was primarily a financial investment. It cost a lot of money to buy the site and the same again to prepare it for the 16 huts that will be built.
But it was always more than the money and there are simpler ways to invest. I had a strong desire that any project should take me away from work – to a place where I can spend more time outdoors, slow the pace, meet new people from different backgrounds with new ideas and try to make a difference.
I had a strong sense that “community” and the environment should be at the heart of what I did. I believe that small communities of people, helping each other and focusing on a common good, are key to a happier and more fulfilled life.
More than ‘just’ a site for hutters
The site extends to 32 acres of which some six acres have been ear-marked for the 16 huts.
One of the huts will be reserved for free use by groups who have a community, charity or educational purpose. This might be a space to practise yoga, do arts and crafts, or simply a place to escape to for a few nights.
I also have plans for bio-diversity projects. My first degree was in environmental biology and I don’t get to use it much in my work. I hope that collectively, the people involved in the site and the hutting community can learn to manage the forest and improve the wildlife habitat. Plans are underway to create a semi natural wetland area, start a forest garden, install bees and keep rescue chickens. I’d love the hutters to bring more ideas to The Encampment.
An ancient monument
The name of the forest (Camp Wood) and the project itself (The Encampment) both take their origins from this historic monument.
A new direction – and a vision
The Encampment is a definite change of direction for me and something I have wanted to do for many years. So far, it has been a mix of hard work, rewards and excitement. Every time I visit the site – and I visit more often as time goes on – I feel like a different person when I come back.
I think the future for the site and the hutting community is very exciting.