help support the project

You can help support the project by buying the book on Amazon

Lowdown on the upland of MarBooks sales directly support the project - read more about the book or download a sample

Powered by Squarespace

Charles Robertson

Corrour BothyCorrour Bothy - 14th July 2009

Charles Robertson - was a crofter in Inverey, but was better known to generations of Cairngormers as the summer deer-watcher at Corrour bothy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1843 Charles was born on the 26th of February to James Robertson, and Mary McGregor in Inverey.

In 1851 the census of that year shows him for the first time, living in Little Inverey aged 8 years old.  From subsequent censuses I infer that he worked the family croft from an early age combining that work with other labouring work on the estate.

In 1893 Charles was in residence at Corrour Bothy during the 'great cloudburst of 1893' - the description of which, passed on to us by Seton Gordon, is quoted below. 

In 1901 the earliest contemporary reference I’ve seen to Charles Robertson was published in the Cairngorm Club Journal.  In the article Ballater to Lynwilg by William Skea (ccj 17, July 1901, p270-273) describing a 'tramp' in July 1900 – the author writes :

At mid-day we were abreast of Glen Geusachan, and Charlie Robertson saluted us from the door of his hut (Corrour) as we passed on the opposite side of the Dee.  We thereafter made tracks across the glen, and, fording the Dee, prepared for the ascent of Cairn Toul  

– William Skea (ccj 17, July 1901, p272)  

In 1907 the latest contemporary reference I’ve seen placing Charles Robertson at Corrour bothy was published in the Cairngorm Club Journal.  In the article A fortnight among the Cairngorms by William Welsh (ccj 33, July 1909, p100-107) describing a 'tramp' in July 1907 – the author writes :

the storm became so bad that we saw it would have been madness to proceed any further. We turned back to Derry Lodge, which was reached in due time.  Robertson, the Corrour watcher, had just arrived, soaked like ourselves, so we hung our clothes in front of the bothy fire while we were togged in Duff tartan

- William Welsh (ccj 33, June 1909, p105)

Evidently Charles Robertson was the resident deer watcher of Corrour Bothy in 1907, and it's possible that he still was in 1909.

Most of the information we have about Charles Robertson comes from the writing of Seton Gordon who must have known him well - Gordon (1848) contains fragmentary references from which we can create a thumbnail sketch :

When I first knew the Cairngorms an old watcher named Charles Robertson, a great character inhabited the bothy [Corrour]

- Gordon (1948) (p316)

When Seton Gordon began getting to know the Cairngorms in 1906 he would have been about 20, and Charles Robertson about 63.

Charles Robertson tamed the mice in the bothy, and one of these mice used to come out of its hole of an evening and sit on the old man's boots, to beg for pieces of cheese

- Gordon (1948) (p359)

The eairliest reference I've seen placing Charles Robertson at Corrour bothy is in Gordon (1925) – where the author puts him at Corrour bothy during the big storm of 1893 - writing :

Near Clach nan Taillear a deep scar has been torn down the face of Carn a' Mhaim.  It is the work of the great cloudburst of 1893.  Old Charles Robertson was the watcher at the Corrour bothy at the time, and he told me that one July afternoon the water from a black thunder-cloud struck the hill-top with the noise of thunder.  Simultaneously another great volume of water struck the Devil's Point behind him, and in the resulting torrent of water his bothy narrowly escaped destruction

– Gordon (1925) (p77)

Charles Robertson never married, and he was 90 years-old when he died in Pinewood Cottage, Inverey on the 3rd of August 1933.  He is buried in the graveyard at Braemar.