My first night in a Scottish bothy
I have always avoided nights in bothies. What? FionaOutdors prefers B&B shocker? Well, no, I actually enjoy wild camping and I’d even prefer to sleep in the back of an estate car (this we have done several times to avoid the midge menace) but bothies to me have always meant: Too Much Loud Male Snoring.
Bothies are shelters – from brick-built uninhabited cottages to wooden shed-like constructions – that are dotted across more remote parts of the UK and are there for the (mostly) free use of walkers. Bothies are not widely advertised but they are known of through word of mouth in the outdoors community. The Scottish Bothies Association maintains around 100 bothies, and most of these are in Scotland.
I love the idea of a deserted building being used by passing walkers for free. Some bothies have running water, an open fire or stove and even a toilet. Others are as basic as a shed. The bothies are generally free to use although some require permission. They operate on a first come first served basis and while some bothies have a few rooms, most are one open-plan area where walkers lay down on a thermarest and sleeping bag and sleep with whoever happens to be there at the time.
The G-Force has slept in many bothies and made good use of them during his Munro Round. But I have always shied away because I can’t sleep when all around me there is loud snoring. Even with ear-plugs in.
But then the G-Force and I were invited to a special bothy located in Glencoe where only ourselves and two other guys (who swore they didn’t snore too much) would be staying. This bothy is by invitation only from a Scottish climbing club so we could be fairly sure we would be the only four staying there that night. So I took the chance and I absolutely loved the adventure.
Everything required for the night had to be carried in by foot and so we lugged kindling and coal for a fire, water and gas stoves, as well as breakfast. Oh, and a few cans of beer to ensure we all got to sleep.
We arrived in the dark and had to navigate by head torch and cross a river that was shin height. Thanks to a clear sky and a bright moon the setting close to some of Scotland’s most stunning mountains was breath-takingly atmospheric.
With little else to do during the evening we lit the fire, sipped on drinks and chatted. The G-Force and I had enjoyed a fabulous two Munro day – Bidean nam Bian and Stob Coire Sgreamhach returning via the infamous Lost Valley – in the Glencoe area and we were full of talk about the views, the terrain and the number of other people out and about enjoying the November sunshine. The plan the next day was to walk another two Munros on the Buachalle Etive Beag ridge, Stob Dubh and Stob Coire Raineach, this time accompanied by our two bothy pals.
And I needn’t have worried about the snoring from other people. While the two other guys slept peacefully it was the G-Force who made the most noise. Unable to get comfortable on his sides he was forced to sleep on his back. Any woman who has ever slept with a guy who has had a few beers and is sleeping on his back knows exactly what that means. Very loud snoring all night long. In the end I found my ear-plugs, curled into a corner of the bothie, tucked my head inside my sleeping bag and managed to get a few hours sleep.
But it was worth it. Waking up in the middle of fabulous Glencoe in a basic bothy and with another day of sunshine and walking ahead of us was truly fantastic. How lucky was I?!