Craft Bothy / Biggar, South Lanarkshire

Lindsay Macgregor and Landscape designer Jasmin Cann added a Craft Bothy at the bottom of their garden in Biggar in 2021. The couple wanted a secluded space away from the house where Lindsay can write and practice the banjo. The compact Craft Bothy is embedded in the lush landscaping and features a full-height window looking out onto the nearby ponds. The bothy is also used for entertaining friends and its delighted owners say it has revitalised a previously underused area of the garden.

This is Jasmin and Lindsay’s bothy story:

Jasmin: When we started thinking about building something where Lindsay could go to write we looked at various off-the-shelf garden offices but they really weren’t very inspiring. They all looked the same, without much character, and they weren’t going to enhance the garden in any way.

Lindsay: I was aware of Bothy Project’s work as a social enterprise through writer friends that have stayed in their bothies for residencies. When we discovered we could purchase our own bothy from Bothy Stores, suddenly there was a solution that could provide the space we needed while also being beautiful to look at. Knowing that sales from Bothy Stores go towards supporting Bothy Project also helped our decision.

A site for sore eyes

Jasmin: We chose a site for the bothy that is screened from the adjacent field by lots of hawthorns and pine trees. The obvious place to put another building was at the bottom of the slope where there is a view of the nearby ponds. Previously there was no way to be inside and enjoy this view so the bothy gave us a whole new aspect.

Lindsay: We thought a lot about exactly where to put the windows to make the most of the views. We specified a full-height window on the side elevation that makes it feel like you’re outdoors even when you’re inside.

Transforming an underused space

Jasmin: Before we added the bothy this part of the garden was really just somewhere for storing things. The bothy transformed how we use it and prompted us to smarten up the whole area. We’ve planted new beds and added hard landscaping with a bench; it’s brought this space back to life.

Small but perfectly formed

Lindsay: We chose the Craft Bothy, which is the smallest option but it’s ideal for what we need. We use it in so many different ways; we’ve had meals with friends in it, we can sleep in it, and of course it’s great for my banjo practice as I don’t like to disturb anyone!

The specification is mostly as per the original design. I really like the look of traditional bothies and the other vernacular buildings you find throughout Scotland, such as old sheds and outhouses with their rusted corrugated metal roofs. We used the Corten steel on the roof and all of the walls except for the one gable which is clad with larch. The wood provides a lovely contrast with the steel.

A space for all seasons

Lindsay: We have a Charnwood Aire 3 wood-burning stove that means the bothy is also a great space to use in the winter. It heats up quickly and stays really warm. I usually only have the stove on for a couple of hours and it retains the heat because the walls are so well insulated.

The interior is decorated really sparsely because it’s so beautiful on its own. I have a desk and chair in there as well as an old lamp that matches the Anglepoise lamps on the walls. We added a rug, a kettle and a futon that folds down into a single bed… and that’s all.

Integrated into the landscape

Jasmin: The idea that a structure should sit within the landscape rather than perching on it is integral to everything I’ve done during the past 35 years of my career. That’s what the bothy does: it works together with the hard landscaping and the plants rather than standing apart from them. 

Some of the Corten that was left over is now incorporated into the landscaping. We used it for retaining some of the beds, along with small terracotta bricks and big stone slabs that form steps down towards the bothy. I think it’s best not to use too many materials and reusing the steel helps to tie the bothy to the surrounding landscape.

A much-loved sanctuary

Jasmin: It’s surprising to think that we’ve only had the bothy for a couple of years because it feels like it’s always been here. We’ve really enjoyed using it and we love it more and more as time goes by. 

Lindsay: It’s truly head and shoulders above anything else that either of us have seen on the market and we couldn’t be happier with it. To have our own private space to use however and whenever we like feels very special.

The Charnwood Aire 3 wood-burning stove is manufactured by Charnwood and supplied by Bonk & Co.