Police have revealed that revellers misusing a Galloway hills bothy led to a group of bona fide walkers having to be rescued by the emergency services.
The incident is being made public at the start of a major crackdown on the bothies in the area being used for illegal drink and drugs parties in remote locations where the partygoers feel safe from discovery by the police.
But the message to them this week was: ‘The party’s over’.
There is also concern over the rise of vandalism, arson and anti-social behaviour at what are meant to be havens of safety for walkers in bad weather conditions.
Now police are warning selfish revellers that they will be specially targeted and this misuse of the bothy system ended before an innocent life is lost for want of shelter.
‘Bothy Watch’ is being described as “a multi-agency initiative” involving police, councils and mountain rescue teams “with a focus on reducing crime in outlying areas, keeping the bothies free from damage and allowing them to be used for the purpose they are intended for.”
PC Samantha Briggs, leading ‘Bothy Watch’, explained: “For years these buildings have been a valuable and in fact quite a social resource for hill walkers and cyclists, with many reliant upon them on their long distance trekking routes.
“We are aware of a report that genuine hillwalkers were prevented access to a bothy full of revellers. They were forced to continue on in bad weather and subsequently had to be rescued off the hillside.
“This is a real concern for us and we want to raise awareness to the consequences of not using these shelters correctly.
“The message is that bothies are not law free zones.”