Dunmaglass Sponsored Walk

When we (The Neil Mackenzie Trust) started making plans for a year long series of events centred around Bell’s Bothy, it took me a while to work out whether there was an option that would be family-friendly, and that could involve some of the less adventurous of us out there!  With much chat with fellow mums at after-school activities and the school & nursery gates I stumbled upon the idea of a sponsored walk within the vicinity of Strathnairn.  This would allow us to run a ‘local’ event for those that weren’t able to make it to Skye, and hopefully we would be able to do different routes to make it possible to be enjoyed by individuals of differing abilities.

After a few weeks of research, both on foot and by looking at maps, we found a network of tracks recently upgraded for a windfarm development.  Following a little liaison with the landowners, we are pleased to announce the local part of Bell’s Bothy Challenge is a family-friendly sponsored walk at Dunmaglass Estate, with many thanks to Dunmaglass and SSE for letting us use the land.


There will be three routes available to suit all ages and abilities, and our aim is to get as many people of all different ages out to enjoy our surroundings, take some exercise, meet some new friends and of course raise some money for The Neil Mackenzie Trust at the same time!  The Trust’s tagline is ‘Fun to Donate, Fun to participate and Fun to Benefit’, so it would be great if as many of you as possible could come and join us to help us achieve this.

The event will take place on Saturday 24th June at Dunmaglass, Inverness-shire. It is £5 to register per family, and feel free to raise as much money in sponsorship as you can!  There will be prizes for the participants and homebaking & refreshments available at the end of the walk!  For more information and a registration  form please contact Caroline Tucker on caz_mackenzie@hotmail.com or download the form below.

Registration Form for Dunmaglass Sponsored Walk

If you are unable to take part in this event but would like to sponsor someone walking, running or cycling, please visit our Charity Choice fundraising page to make a donation: https://www.charitychoice.co.uk/theneilmackenzietrust/appeals/dunmaglass-sponsored-walk/682

Remember there are other things going on throughout the year, and feel free to set up your own challenge to raise money, wherever you are in the world!

January kick-off


There’s little daylight in January on Skye.  Dawn and dusk are the best times to spot otter – so chances are much higher in winter than in summer (perhaps)!  On the morning of our first 2017 walk in to Bell’s Bothy we were lucky enough to spot these, on the shore just below our parked campervan.  In his childhood Neil was an otter fanatic – I remember times on Mull and Skye trying to keep him still in the hopes of seeing one (and we never did!), whilst being eaten alive by midges. It seemed right that these two should come to see us as we kicked off the 2017 Bell’s Bothy Challenge.

We walked in to Camasunary, twice, and are pleased to report that the bothy itself is in good order. There has been some mould – it is so well sealed and insulated that with wet people, clothes, boots, dogs, etc. and no air passing through mould growth, I fear is inevitable.  However the bay is a different story.


We are planning events throughout the year to clean up.  Challenge yourself to get there (preferably the first weekend of a month) and come to help.   The main event will be 28th April – 7th May, come for a day or come for ten.  We are working on a way to get it all out – have you any ideas, a boat, a quad bike and trailer or a sturdy 4×4 (eg. Landrover) you are prepared to use?  More details about this event will follow soon, but please put it in your diary, and come to help.

Join the blog – send me your email theneilmackenzietrust @dr.com and we will invite you.

How to join the blog


No doubt this will be second nature to most, but if you’re like me, and have little clue, here are the steps to get involved.

  • you need to be invited by Margaret, so please email her at theneilmackenzietrust@dr.com
  • when you get the invitation, you’ll need to sign up for a WordPress account if you haven’t already got one, and then Accept Invitation
  • WordPress will then ask you to confirm your email address
  • you’ll get confirmation of your acceptance that you’ve been added to The Neil Mackenzie Trust
  • click on Visit Blog, and start writing!
  • for subsequent visits to the blog on the Trust website, click on Follow at lower right and log in
  • Happy blogging!

If for any reason this isn’t working, by all means email us your text and photos and we’ll add them to the blog.


Thoughts and guidelines…..

We hope to see the first Bell’s Bothy Challenges being done in the first week of January, and look forward to hearing about them. We will be there at some stage in early January but will not be staying in the bothy, but in our campervan on the shores of Loch Slapin. We are still getting things sorted on the website for you to post on the blog, and if you are unable to, please send your stories and pictures to theneilmackenzietrust@dr.com and we will post them.

Our aims for the Challenge are that you:

Challenge yourself

Meet others

Help to keep the area around Camasunary Bothy rubbish free (or an area of your choice)

Raise money for and help to promote The Neil Mackenzie Trust, by reporting back on your challenge.

Please be aware of the Mountain Bothies Association Guidelines: http://www.mountainbothies.org.uk/bothy-code.asp

and the Outdoor Access Code

Principles – the Code is based on three key principles:

Respect the interests of other people.

Acting with courtesy, consideration and awareness is very important.  If you are exercising access rights, make sure that you respect the privacy, safety and livelihoods of those living or working in the outdoors, and the needs of other people enjoying the outdoors.  If you are a land manager, respect people’s use of the outdoors and their need for a safe and enjoyable visit.

Care for the environment.

If you are exercising access rights, look after the places you visit and enjoy, and leave the land as you find it. If you are a land manager, help maintain the natural and cultural features which make the outdoors attractive to visit and enjoy.

Take responsibility for your own actions.

If you are exercising access rights, remember that the outdoors cannot be made risk-free and act with care at all times for your own safety and that of others. If you are a land manager, act with care at all times for people’s safety.

For more information visit: http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/ and of course if you are carrying out your Challege outside Scotland respect all access codes/laws relating to the country you are in.


Group Challenges

The plans for the 2017 Worldwide Bothy Challenge are well under way.  It is a personal challenge, in aid of The Neil Mackenzie Trust, but could also be a group challenge, anywhere in the world, sharing the proceeds between the Trust and any other charity.

The Neil Mackenzie Trust

To encourage participation, we hope that individuals will organise groups or teams to carry out challenges in their own areas.  The group challenge should be fun, and help introduce people to one another, create a personal challenge to individuals within the group, help the environment, and of course, raise money and publicise the trust.  For more information contact: theneilmackenietrust@dr.com

Working on a “pay to participate” basis we would encourage a donation for each participant, alternatively they could get sponsorship for their challenges. Donations can be made through CAF bank, and sponsorship via Charity Choice – see bottom right of page “Fundraise for us” button.




Bothy Challenge

Camasunary Finished (2)The 2017 Bell’s Bothy Challenge is a “positive challenge” for anyone who wants to challenge themselves, improve the environment, meet and make friends, raise money for the Trust, and help to publicise the Trust by encouraging donations and posting on our blog.

First and foremost, our thoughts relate to Bell’s Bothy, but of course the principles can apply anywhere in the world.  Our hope is that as many people as possible will set themselves a challenge (individually or as part of a team) preferably, but not exclusively, to get to the new Camasunary Bothy on Skye (Bell’s bothy).  We hope to see people coming from as far away as possible and by as many different routes and means, meeting other people there and helping to clean up the Camasunary area, or a bothy, hut or any other place in your region, and raise money for NMT.  If you cannot get to the bothy next year, can you help to set up a focal point for a challenge in your area/country to promote the Trust.

  • When – all year, but we are specifically thinking of the first weekend of every month (often a holiday weekend, in Scotland).
  • Where – Bell’s bothy, Camasunary, Isle of Skye – or anywhere in the world!
  • What is your personal challenge? Our thoughts relate particularly to the route and means of getting to the bothy, preferably powered only by yourself, from anywhere – from walking from the Elgol Road (as long as it is a personal challenge!) to cycling from Istambul!  (More suggestions below – please add your own.)
  • Improve the environment – we really want to make sure that the surroundings at the Bothy are kept free of rubbish for the year and to promote “Pack it in, pack it out”. We would also like to clear the shore of rubbish –  a challenge in itself.
  • Raise money – we will ensure donations can be made direct to the bank account, through the website or facebook page or through a charity fundraising page, but we hope that individuals will also seek sponsorship for their personal challenges.
  • Publicise – create a platform to promote your challenges, and report back, enthusiastically, on the Bell’s Bothy Challenge blog with pictures, text & videos, encouraging more people to join in the challenge and donate to the Trust.

Challenge Suggestions: Please let us add your ideas!

Sponsored cycling/mountain biking, hiking, riding, running in, or other land or water based sport to get you there (or a combination) – from as far away as possible in a weekend.

Team challenge: arriving at the bothy having completed the Cuillin Ridge.

Long distance walk, cycle or horse ride


Individual or team challenge to arrive by water from as far away as possible.

Hitch hiking to the bothy – money saved, donated to the Trust.

Sponsored children’s relay from Edinburgh, Glasgow or any other point in Scotland/UK.

Help required:

  • Spreading the word – getting as many people involved as possible. Are you a member of a (physical) organisation, club or group where it would be possible to promote the challenge, or are you on a forum, fb group or other internet organisation which could be used to promote what we are doing?
  • Do you have any links with useful organisations (who may help, or provide members to help or participate) such as D of E, John Muir Trust.
  • Contributing to the diary, map and blog, to keep it “alive”.
  • Organising activities/challenges for babies and children.
  • Organising team challenges, maybe even competitions.
  • Promote “Pack it in, Pack it out” anywhere and everywhere!

Please let us know if you have the skills required to help us:

  • Set up an interactive diary for the website
  • Create an interactive map for the website – for completed challenges and relay routes
  • Set up a “mini” challenges where you live (for example, in your village in UK or in Canada or USA!).

To help the environment …………..

  • We hope that everyone who goes will help to clean up the bothy, the bay, and the surrounding area and take in an extra bag to collect rubbish and carry it out and dispose of it responsibly.
  • Do you have a boat that can be used – once or several times to remove rubbish from the bay (and/or a vehicle to transfer it to, to take it to Broadford)?

Further information:

Please keep watching The Neil Mackenzie Trust website www.theneilmackenzietrust.wordpress.com the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/theneilmackenzietrust/ and Bell’s bothy facebook group page https://www.facebook.com/groups/414516018713413/ for more information


2017 will be the first full year of the new bothy at Camasunary on Skye, being open.  Generous donations in memory of Neil Mackenzie (Bell) were made and donated to MBA (Mountain Bothies Association) to cover the budgeted cost of fitting out the new bothy at Camasunary, known to his friends as Bell’s Bothy.   The work was completed in March 2016 and the bothy has been very well used since then.  Unfortunately, not all visitors have respected the bothy and its environs.

The Neil Mackenzie Trust was set up in 2015 to raise money to help people of all ages to learn new outdoor skills and to encourage them to challenge themselves by outdoor activity, adventure or expedition.  In conjunction with VOC (Varsity Outdoor Club at University of British Columbia, Vancouver) we have already helped VOC members’ carry out activities through the Neil Mackenzie Adventure Grant.  We are also in the process of awarding our first skills training grants.