Stirling Observer

Bothies bid by farmers

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Farmers’fears over Brexit have sparked them to consider bothies on their land near Thornhill for holiday lets.

Kaye and Dugald Clark have submitted an applicatio­n to Stirling Council planners for two bothies for use by holidaymak­ers at Shandon Wood, Ruskie.

The pair have been running the farm for the past decade and it now includes 23 Luing cross suckler cows and 140 Blackface Ewes.

The farm, which is owned by them, is said to consist of 185 acres of mixed ground only suited for growing grass for stock and rough grazing and they are looking to diversify.

In documents submitted with the applicatio­n, agents said:“With Brexit the applicants believe that the future for Scottish farms, particular­ly small farms like Shandon Wood, is going to be very difficult. This view is backed up by the thoughts of those within the industry.

“Farms have always changed and diversifie­d on different scales over the years. A farming business isn’t just about farming anymore. It’s about looking outside of the box, whilst retaining the core business.

“Being proactive and diversifyi­ng is the way to survive and thrive, however, the applicants recognise that continuing to develop their stock is also important as this will provide part of the appeal for visitors.

“The hope is that farming will continue to be valued after Brexit but the applicants feel there is a need to try to minimise the risk to their business by spreading out the potential income sources.

“The proposed location for the bothies is at the northern area of Quarry Wood. This wood has suffered from years of lack of management with blocked drains resulting in the death of some trees and an invasion of rushes. The grazing by sheep has also prevented any natural tree regenerati­on, however the fence around this wood has been reinstated and the applicants have replanted the original beech hedge. They have also planted some native trees in the wood.

“The reason for selecting this area of Quarry Wood for the bothies site is as follows: the mature trees will provide a natural landscape setting for the bothies to sit and will prove an appealing location for visitors; it is accessible for visitors and will have minimal impact on the rest of the farm; it can be safely managed for visitors while keeping them away from stock and machinery; car parking spaces can adapted in the existing garden/orchard area; it is a marginal area with little agricultur­al benefit; and investing in this site will benefit the wood and wildlife.

“The site is at the top of Quarry Wood which slopes downhill from the north to the fence line above the old quarry. The bothies would be situated at the northern area of the site.

“There are no plans to remove any of the existing trees and the existing site boundaries have been planted with a mixed hedge with native broadleave­s which helps to create a wildlife corridor.”

Council planners are expected to make a recommenda­tion on the applicatio­n in due course.

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