I recently took a weeks holiday to go and discover the Scottish Highlands. Although I’ve lived in Edinburgh for the last 4 years, I have never travelled to the West of Scotland, or up North towards Aviemore and Inverness. That all changed when I took part in Maggie’s Monster Bike and Hike in May, and I decided to explore some more of the Scottish wilderness.
Key to the plan for our week of walking was to stay in various bothies in Scotland, which are usually found in the middle of nowhere.
So what is a bothy? A bothy is a basic shelter usually formed from old farm buildings or ruins that have been restored to a simple standard, with maybe two or three rooms and a roof made from corrugated iron. Most bothies once provided shelter to farmers and shepherds when looking after livestock.
|Outside the Staoineag bothy|
A bothy is usually waterproof and windproof and provides simple accommodation. There are no beds or mattresses provided, no tap water and no toilet. Staying in a bothy means you go back to nature.
Bothies usually contain candles, a spade (shouldn’t need explaining), a fireplace and maybe leftover dried pasta and a pack of cards from previous guests.
|The view from the Staoineag bothy, Scotland|
We decided to explore the ‘Mammores’ area of Scotland, a series of mountain ranges which lie to the east of Fort William, and north of Kinlochleven.
The first bothy we stayed in was the Meanach bothy in the heart of the valley, and 10km from the nearest tarmac road. A very useful base if you want to conquer The Grey Corries.
|The Meanach bothy|
A couple of nights later we stayed in the Staoineag bothy, which is another 3km east of the Meanach bothy. On a good day, this bothy provides stunning views….thankfully we arrived there on one of those days.
The last bothy we passed on the walk was the small Lairig Leacach bothy.
I confess I was a bothy virgin before this trip, but it really was superb. BUT, some advice…..
If you are planning to stay in a bothy, be aware there is a Bothy Code and ‘etiquette’. Bothies should be respected and not abused. Volunteers look after the bothies and misuse can lead to disrepair.
For more information, visit the Mountain Bothies Association website.
Safe hiking and exploring!