Tuesday 30 October 2012

Wild Hut 10

Govan, Glasgow South-Side

I decided to spend my next hutting adventure with my daughter Katie who is 6. If it takes around 5 hours to build a hut, I was fairly sure she would be bored and cold after 1 – especially on these dark winter evenings. It would also be an organisational struggle to get her home, showered and ready in time for school the next morning.

So I decided to venture out the evening before in an effort to prepare the materials and complete the main structural work. I donned my wellies and wandered out through a quiet industrial estate, on-route to the River Clyde like an urban farmer. As I approached a redundant patch of land on the river bank, I noticed a fox racing past at speed. It was bounding high through the tall grass like a drugged kangaroo. I thought it must have been confronted by a passing dog walker which sent him racing for his life through the undergrowth.

The Build:
The back corner of the waste-ground had a vast pile of cut stone – part of the old quay wall and cobbled riverbank. Without haste I began the heavy work of building the base-wall. I decided the hut should have a softer, more organic feel so arranged the wall in the shape of a horse-shoe, 7 courses high and about the size of a double bed. I knew that high walls need cross-bracing so built an inner and outer leaf, using some lager blocks to brace between them.

As I lifted a stone block a large frog jumped out from between my legs. In the darkness I just noticed a fast, darting movement and jumped backwards like a big girl. In fairness though, he was a frighteningly big frog, darting around in the darkness with threatening intent…big eyes etc.

On one hand…it seemed like a sensible and secure place for a frog to hide, but on the other hand frogs are so soft and delicate in contrast to these sharp heavy blocks. I was fairly sure that at one stage I was going to accidently squish it…so picked it up and placed it well out of harms way. No sooner had I returned than another big frog was flopping around across the stones. Comically - it leaped headlong into a stone block and halted in a daze (it was either running for its life or was as blind as a bat). I picked up this kamikaze-Kermit and popped it beside his girlfriend who could easily have been his dad for all I knew. I left them with strict instructions that I didn’t want to see any tadpoles out of season…

I came back the following evening with my daughter Katie to complete the roof part of the hut. She got back from school and was fairly excited to be heading out into the cold night for an adventure! We gathered sticks and soon arranged a ladder frame roof-structure across the top of the base-wall. We then added a thick layer of twigs at which point I decided to take her home for some supper and help her with her homework…which I had forgotten about...eek.

We came back out with 3 plastic bags and gathered up bundles of golden leaves which would give the roof a great waterproofing layer. We found 2 large sticks and propped the roof up at the front in order to achieve more head room and water run-off. I liked the flexible nature of a roof that could lift or drop depending on the weather or usage.

Roughing it:
We spread our gathered leaves across the roof and pushed them flat. Katie seemed fairly excited at the prospect of spending a night in the wilds of Glasgow, although it was hard to see her expression from the dim light of her Nintendo DS…We were soon snuggled up under layers of sleeping bags with the buzz of a nearby lamp post keeping us company.

The odd firework pierced the calm night as I drifted in and out of sleep. Katie fell asleep as soon as she felt the warmth of her sleeping bag. After only a short time I woke in absolute horror at the sound of someone whistling directly outside the hut. It was a sinister whistling sound as if someone was signalling to someone, but quiet as if they were really close. I lay fairly motionless for around 20 seconds hoping that the hut wall wouldn’t suddenly be kicked down on top of us.

To my relief and embarrassment, I had only days before received a new mobile phone, which has a SMS text notification sound of someone whistling! I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the sound now. I soon fell asleep to the further sounds of Katie snoring and the continual buzz of electricity. We woke dry and warm at 7am and headed home to get cleaned up for school and a days work.

Katie was asked to stand up in class today and tell the other kids about sleeping out in a wild hut in the middle of Glasgow. I’m only glad she was talking to kids and not the social services…


  1. Top Job, looks like your daughters a lil bushcrafter in the making ;o)

  2. Great stuff, Katie's a plucky little thing and lucky to have such a fun dad. Really enjoying these posts!

  3. I have six boys! I wish I had found this earlier! We love your creations, and are eagerly looking forward to your next post!

  4. Priceless memories! I envy your resolve. Although I'm trying to learn new camping/survival/prepping skills, I'm afraid I'm more of a dreamer than a doer. I'm learning lots from you though. Thanks!

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  6. You do have a mind of a survivalist indeed. However, I am a bit concerned with the use of rocks. Well, finding such rocks in the woods may be challenging. I for one would prefer using logs, twigs, grass, and big leaves. It is after all a survival situation. Great post, will definitely borrow your idea. Here is another post on wilderness survival that I read: http://survival-mastery.com/skills/bushcraft/how-to-survive-in-the-wild.html

  7. I have read of some unique wilderness hut designs from the ancient communities, but yours is even better. I like the simplicity of the design, the raised roof, and the one-way entrance. I also think the structure can be stronger if you were to introduce poles around the hut that will provide firm support. I did find some additional survival tips here: http://wildernessmastery.com/survival/how-to-survive-in-the-wild.html

  8. I'm trying to learn new survival skills. Thanks for info.
    [Jerry Gonzalez]