The Secret Howff

Who doesn’t like a surprise? Setting off for a couple of days of hiking, biking and camping with my daughter in the Cairngorms and one of the things we came across was the fabled Secret Howff – Slugain.

Plaque inside the Howff
Plaque inside the Howff

Now while this wasn’t a complete out of the blue, stumble upon kind of surprise, it was still a surprise. Previously I’d read about the Slugain, but I certainly hadn’t planned on looking for or finding it. The article I’d read was interesting enough but in keeping with the story behind the making of this rather small bothy, it keep enough secrets so that you still didn’t know enough to actually find it. A few photos from the inside and a couple of super vague (much like the ones I’m posting) photos of the outside. It could be literally anywhere – which is how it’s meant to be. If you stick to the main paths then you will not see it (this is really a big hint).

How to find the Howff?

Spoiler alert! I’m not going to tell you exactly how to find it. That’s part of it’s charm and the satisfaction when you actually find it.

But here’s the thing – If you are close to it however it’s not hard to spot. Well the actual howff itself is really hard to spot and you will not see it directly. BUT – if you are close enough to it then you can see a path from all those other people that have visited it. I guess it doesn’t take much footfall to leave an impression behind. (this is another massive hint – hopefully not too big)

As we walked towards one of our goals for the day, I had in the back of my head that it may have been in the area. It’s a pretty big area (Cairngorms), but more specifically we were in the Braemar area. It was this portion of the national park from previous reading that suggested it was in that vicinity. So I was on the lookout while we cycled and hiked along the way.

I'm a giant or is the door really small....
I’m a giant or is the door really small….

As is often the case when out in the hills, you need to stop to appreciate what’s around you. It’s when you do stop, that things start to stand out more. Well we came to a stop after cycling a fair distance (is that another hint…), decided to grab a quick snack/drink. Just off the main path I noticed another path – not a massive or excessively worn path. It certainly looked more than a simple deer run. So my curiosity got the better of me. Walked up a bit, round a corner and there in the distance looked like the tree you see in all the photos of the Howff.

It still wasn’t clear if it was the location or not, but fairly sure. So excitedly shouted on my daughter and we headed on up to it’s location.


Once we found the Howff, that day’s activities changed. Plans are made for breaking 🙂 This was a day (well weekend) for myself and our daughter to chill in the outdoors and we did just that. Although we did other things and competed some peaks – this was overwhelmingly the memory that was brought back from our weekend (the other main one I write about in my next post – it’s certainly not an expected memory from hiking).

So while it may not seem like much, get out, explore and you just never know what you’ll find if you keep your eyes open.

One of the range of old items left in the Howff.
One of the range of old items left in the Howff.

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