Bynack Lodge is the (ruined) 19th century shooting lodge in Glen Bynack on Mar Lodge Estate, Aberdeenshire. Bynack Lodge stands on the river terrace forming the 'peninsula' between Bynack Burn and Allt an t-Seilich.
In 1831 a house was built in Glen Bynack for an assistant forester - MS 3175/1748 contains an itemised list of payments to Donald McKenzie for the building of this house.
The earliest place name I've uncovered in this locality is Croclach from An Crò Chlach – meaning the stone fold, a reference to the area’s use in sheep farming.
In 1841 the census of that year shows Croclach occupied by Alex McHardy, and family. The 1841 census collected few details ; only recording that Alex was a male servant ; leaving us to infer that he was a paid employee rather than a independent tenant. The name Croclach survived into the early 1860s.
In 1861 the census of that year shows Croclach Lodge as uninhabited.
By 1866 when the area was surveyed by the Ordnance Survey, a great deal of building work has apparently been carried out. On the old 6-inch map (1869) the 'official' name has changed to Bynack Shieling, and applied to a group of buildings (that survive as ruins) suggesting that most of the building work on this site was completed by 1866.
As a colloquial place name Bynack Shieling appears to have been short lived - Bynack Lodge appears in guide books as early as Black's (1873), but not on the Ordnance Survey maps until the early 20th century.
In 1881 the census of that year shows Donald Fraser as the resident keeper – this is the Donald Fraser who'd moved to Derry Lodge by the census of 1891.
By 1898 Alexander McDonald was the resident keeper - he and his family continued to live at Bynack Lodge until they moved to Luibeg Cottage in 1912.
As late as the 'teens' of the 20th century walking visitors expected to find Bynack Lodge occupied. In the article by James Nicol, (ccj 46, January 1916, p137-144) describing a 'tramp' in 1915 – the author writes :
… then I sighted the spruces surrounding Bynack, and, on reaching the Lodge received a hospitable welcome from the solitary keeper stationed there.
Next morning – Wednesday – after an early breakfast, a start was made for Glen Geldie. The two keepers – from Bynack and Geldie respectively – had arranged to shoot deer in the glen, and as their route coincided with my own, I considered myself fortunate in having company for the first part of the way
– Nicol (ccj 46, January 1916, p137-144)
In Alexander (1928) – the author refers to Bynack Lodge in passing as 'occupied in summer only'. Although by 1928 Bynack Lodge is no longer occupied year-round – I infer that it's condition is still such that it could be re-occupied.
In 1938 it was 'open', and still 'habitable' enough for hill goers. In Scroggie (1989) – the author describes Bynack Lodge in 1938 – writing :
… when we entered that musty lobby through one half of a creaky, old-fashioned double door, and Colin struck a match, we found that whereas the three downstairs rooms were locked up and had furniture in them, the two bedrooms upstairs were open, and there we carried up our rucksacks, our boots clumping hollowly on wooden stairs, and settled in for the night
– Scroggie (1989) (p51)
With talk of a double door, a five roomed building, and furniture behind locked doors on the ground-floor – the Bynack Lodge of 1938 doesn't sound much past it's original state.
By 1959 Bynack Lodge was deteriorating rapidly - in Scroggie (1989) the author describes Bynack Lodge during a visit that year - writing :
… far gone in dilapidation and decay, though sound enough in its granite walls and roof of Ballachulish slate. The windows were out, the floor boards were up, the laths showed through broken plaster in the macabre manner of an anatomical drawing, while of the furniture once locked upstairs, only a large kist remained, empty but for an old wine bottle
– Scroggie (1989) (p54)
In spite of suffering the abuse of the 'hatchet carrier' - the Bynack Lodge of 1959 is still a sound shelter for the night.
By 1968 it was already too late - in Watson (1968) the author describing the Bynack Lodge of the late 1960s - writes :
Bynack Lodge stands on a grassy knoll surrounded by a fringe of wind-slanted trees. In the recent past it was a weathertight building where travellers through this area of desolation might gain shelter. It is now a ruin, destroyed by the vandalism of inconsiderate visitors
- Watson (1968) (p89)
I suppose that's the epitaph of Bynack Lodge - another serviceable shelter in the uplands of Mar turned into a 'pile of stones' by that minority of us who will sacrifice future-comfort, for immediate-comfort in the form of firewood.