Saturday 16 February 2013

Wild Hut 17

Edmiston Drive, Ibrox, Glasgow

Some colleagues showed a mild interest in building an ‘urban hut’ in Glasgow and with some minor preparation we were soon on the subway after work - bound for Glasgow’s south-side. These colleagues, Ewan Proctor Mason & Gordon Anderson are both season-ticket holders at the infamous Rangers Football Club. They were both aware of a small tract of redundant land to the west of the football stadium which could potentially harbour enough materials for a wild night out.

This part of Glasgow has a very unsavoury reputation, not only for match-day hooliganism but also for real-life murders. There is a noticeable breakdown in the urban fabric here with derelict buildings, storage units and high-rise tower blocks. One of Scotland’s most infamous murderers; Christopher Hutcheson, had once lived in a flat nearby and was thought to have tortured and killed some drug addicts for not paying their bills. He apparently garrotted one of them, chopped up the body and buried them in the back court. This psychopath also attacked people in the courtroom when standing trial. At least he was consistent.

It was with this sinister backdrop that we crossed the stadium overflow carpark and entered a tiny patch of dense woodland. A new railway yard had been extended recently which decimated 80% of this forgotten wild space. The last remaining thicket was situated at a lower level beneath the street and was bound by 2 redundant railway lines to the east and west. One of the old tracks was completely flooded and looked like a deep soupy canal with a fringe of green reeds. The other, to our dismay, contained 2 silhouetted figures spray-painting on the tunnel wall.

Much to the displeasure of Ewan and Gordon, we almost universally decided to stand our ground in the hope that they would eventually move off. Without much consultation, I nipped down the embankment towards the group, shown my torch at the pair and started gathering some of the branches which lay strewn on the wet forest carpet. I made sure I was overtly noisy and they soon got spooked and climbed up to the road bridge which overlooked the forest. From their perspective, they were suddenly blind-sided by strange cutting noises and flashing lights.

They tried to provoke a reaction from us by throwing something down then shouting and whistling. They couldn’t figure out what they were dealing with as we stayed quiet and were spread out through the forest. An evening of bushcraft didn’t fit within their frame of reference and so they were obviously uneasy and well-spooked with the situation. After a short time, they mounted their bikes and shouted down – “whit yah dain cuttin aw that wood ya beasts?...ya pure beasts!”  This was the last we heard from them as they sped off westwards towards Drumoyne. 

The Build:
Gordon had conceived the hut design to incorporate 3 sleeping platforms beneath a faceted roof and triangular walls. These all tapered back to a single point meaning that this particular concept was incredibly light on materials. I adapted the entrance for ease of access and built a computerised 3D model. It was just the trick for an evenings build!

For such a tiny patch of forest we were not short of building materials. We gathered enough timber for the whole structure in a very short time and piled it on what looked like an access ramp to forgotten railway platforms. There was a strange fenced-off section of dried plants which looked at first glance like the alien invader - Japanese Knotweed.
Suddenly strange whistling rang out from around the forest perimeter, covering any possible exit routes. 2 or 3 people where whistling to each other from the bridge to the north and carpark to our east. We watched the situation quietly, somehow feeling that we were being surrounded by a group of youths. As quickly as this threat built-up in our minds it dissolved back into the surrounding city streets and the forest returned to quiet.

We quickly pieced together the structural frame and laddered the walls and roof with twigs, ready to hang the outer skin.

We had noticed that the flooded railway tunnel had a healthy fringe of reeds which we could bale together for roofing tiles. We grabbed some food and completed the outer skin by 2am.

Roughing it:
Due to restricted internal space, we entered the bunks one at a time – awkwardly spreading our weight across these springy twig platforms. Much to my amusement Gordon’s bunk was around 1 foot too short. His feet had to rest on a higher beam in the back corner of the hut. He seemed mildly comfortable although was unable to move all night from this single position. We soon forgot the night’s earlier disruptions and fell asleep as the forest returned to a calm silence.

After a reasonable nights sleep, we woke at first light and packed our gear. Although the weather was reasonable through the night, the hut would have provided some decent shelter and indeed kept us high and dry off the wet forest leaf litter. We had found one of the cities many ‘green lungs’, a wilderness island surrounded by urban infrastructure. We were satisfied with what we had managed to achieve in such a tiny oasis and had successfully scared off the sinister locals. We left the security of the forest gully and re-emerged on the busy roadside looking like cheerful tramps.


  1. THAT is a story I'll have to read to the boys! Thank you!

  2. Kev, this is pretty awesome man. I've been to Ibrox only ever to see Rangers but I gather the area can be a bit shady. Fair play to you and the lads, the neds were probably to confused to get their chibs out?

  3. Yeh - quite a wild place. It's safe to say that we wern't the only nutters around there..cheers. k

  4. Hi Kev,
    loving the hut series.
    Have you thought about trying a suspended hut?
    I'm not sure how it would be accomplished with scavenged natural materials, but this looks cool:

    Incidentally - if you are looking for other possible hut sites, I'm in Aberfoyle and have a few interesting site suggestions.

    Ex GSA myself and would love to be involved.


    1. Hi Craig,
      I have thought about a suspended hut - I’m sure it can be achieved in heaps of ways. The fact the foraged/fallen branches are more often than not rotten makes it slightly more tricky. Branches could be used under tension rather than hanging synthetic rope. Even rotten branches are fairly strong - hung under vertical tension. I’ve a few concept sketches of suspended huts so might look into this in the coming months/years. Great link Craig, cheers. Kev

  5. Excellent adventure! These posts keep getting better and better, cheers.

    1. Cheers Martin. Its great fun. Keeps me busy!

  6. Inspiring stuff!! Sorta Henry Thoreau + Jack London + Gavin Maxwell with a bit of Situationism thrown in; vivid and visceral... (found this blog by way of this week's Building Design, btw.)

  7. Wonderful projects: well done! What inspires is that so many of them are in urban and suburban limits, places that I would never think to use. Thank you very much for sharing the ideas :-)

  8. aaah you beast - truly refreshing project. keep it up!! don't you miss it after such a pause?!
    lately my 5 year old daughter and i were in the forest for a walk. we usually do balancing the felled trees. this time she made me do a shack. priceless fun, lying on the green cushioned ground smelling and listening to nearby springtime.
    now that i stumbled over your blog i sure will build one to overnight with her! very inspiring! thank you