Our Mark’s in the bothy biz at Glenfinnan

Nearly five years after leaving the Borders, former Southern Reporter journalist Mark Entwistle is this week helping launching his family's new business in the heart of the western Highlands.

By Kevin Janiak
Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 11:05 am
Mark and Ally Entwistle at one of their eco-friendly bothies.
Mark and Ally Entwistle at one of their eco-friendly bothies.

The first guests have already booked their accommodation for the Easter opening weekend with Back Track Bothies at Glenfinnan, an eco-cabin holiday business located on the edge of ancient oak woodland just a stone's throw from the shores of Loch Shiel in Lochaber.

Mark and his wife, Ally, have spent the last two-and-a-half years working on the project in their spare time with even their two children, now aged 14 and 18, plus Ally's 93-year-old father all pitching in to help.

The Douglas Fir-clad timber cabins were hand built and fitted out by specialists, but the Entwistle family did much of the groundworks themselves, including countless hours in all weathers clearing the site of rhododendrons, scrub vegetation and tons of rubbish.

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The Backtrack Bothies at Glenfinnan. Photo: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image

The green ethos behind the project has been one of sustainability with very little plastic used and everything from the sheep's wool insulation to salvaged Swedish Navy bulkhead lights bought with this in mind.

There are even composting loos made using recycled oak and a reed bed system for grey waste water, with the whole project topped off with living grass roofs sown with wild flowers to attract bees and butterflies.

And with world famous attractions nearby including the Glenfinnan Viaduct, immortalised for its use by the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films, Mark and his family are confident their new business will prove successful.

“Together with the Covid lockdown plus the soaring cost of building materials it has been challenging to say the least, but it will hopefully all be worth it,” said Mark, who works as senior reporter on the Lochaber Times newspaper after spending 29 years working on the Southern Reporter, including 11 as chief reporter.

The interior of one of the pods. Photo: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image.

“But you can drive from the Borders to Glenfinnan in a little over four hours and of course you could also come by train all the way from Tweedbank to here.

“So we are hoping, given that we are not too far away, that we will see plenty of family and friends as well as other Borderers deciding to opt for a holiday in what is a truly magical part of the world.”

For more information visit backtrackbothies.com

The interior of one of the pods. Photo: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image