Blair’s Loch Boathouse and Bothy Development

Friends of Blair’s Loch, The Stable & Boot Room Development

by Brian Higgs, Friends of Blair’s Loch Trustee


Friends of Blairs Loch (FoBL) is a small community-based charity that was established to develop a mixed-use amenity at Loch of Blairs on the Altyre Estate, approximately 4 miles south of Forres.

On the southern end of the loch were a group of derelict buildings that included a boathouse, with an attached “Bothy”, and a separate cart room and stable.

We found evidence that the Boathouse/Bothy was built in the 1890’s as a timber building with a traditional slate roof. We suspect that the Cart/Stable, which was also timber walled with a slate roof, was constructed at a similar time. Both buildings were externally finished in Altyre Estate’s red coloured paint.

Blair's Boathouse before and after

Our first priority was to refurbish the Boathouse & Bothy to save the buildings and create a space that could be used for small groups. Internally, within the Bothy, we upgraded with insulation, electrics, and water services, but we wanted to retain as much of the historical external features as possible. The walls were repaired and re-painted in the Altyre red colour and the roof was sealed and re-slated.

The aspiration to develop a facility that could be used by schools, and other interest groups, meant that we had to include toilets in the longer-term design. Initially we wanted to refurbish the existing cart room/stable and add an extension to house toilet facilities. However, a report by a structural engineer indicated that a combination of wet rot and wood worm had resulted in the deterioration of the building to the point that it was unsafe, and refurbishment would be uneconomical. Sadly, the decision had to be taken to demolish the building and build new.

Design Brief

We were fortunate to have the services of an architect (Stephen Gauld, Wittets) to help us with the design of the replacement building. We wanted a meeting room (The Stable) to be on the same footprint of the old cart room/stable and to include in some way the architectural feature of the arched entrance. The toilet facility needed to cater for groups of up to 40 and include full access for disabled users.

Cost was a key imperative, but it was important to us that the new building would complement the Boathouse & Bothy and enhance the overall feel for the place.

The Design Solution

Through discussions with Stephen the decision was taken to design the new buildings using contemporary materials. We decided that building a red painted, slate roofed, replacement and extension, would be a pastiche of the original buildings rather than a celebration of what we were trying to achieve

The building would be timber built, using locally sourced Larch, covered with slate grey coloured profile sheeting. Links to the original buildings were important and these were achieved by using half round larch cover strips on the vertical cladding and using the Altyre red paint colour on window and door frames.

The arched entrance of the old cart room was brought in to the new design as a fully glazed window in the classroom/meeting room. The room is linked to the outside environs by the incorporation of large French doors that open out on to the loch side.

There was considerable debate around whether the Larch should be allowed to naturally grey/silver but the decision was taken that the link between the design of old and new would be better preserved by treating the external timber cladding with Cedar Oil (generously donated by Treatex Ltd).

The Finished Buildings

The final design was to have two separate buildings, to house the meeting room and toilets, joined by a covered link. Locally source, tongue and groove, Larch cladding was supplied by Logie Timber along with the half round cover strips for the external profile.

Whilst there is some sadness at the loss of the original cart room/stable building, the replacement has received much praise from the many visitors to Loch of Blairs.

Blairs Loch Community Space Development

Where Logie Timber Came In

Logie Timber were delighted to supply the larch cladding for this brilliant project. It’s a fantastic design and Treatex’s Cedar Oil will give the building a more uniform colour for years to come. Congratulations to all involved in the great project and the creation of a new community space.