I spent last weekend in the Lake District with a couple of friends and it was my first time successful attempt at staying in a bothy. My previous attempt was scuppered by a group of teenagers who had set up camp in Dulyn bothy, Snowdonia and were intent on smoking as much weed as possible. You can see my Vlog about that adventure here.
Firstly, what is a bothy?
A bothy is a simple, unlocked shelter in beautiful, wild and remote places. Some are old shepherds huts, some are former dwellings and they range in size from a cozy 2 person shed to multi-room affairs. I have only visited two but they are all unique and all have there own charm.
Now, why should you visit one?
1. They are in amazing locations. There are no bothies in Central London; most are in Scotland with a handful in Wales and a smattering in Northern England. However, they all have one thing in common: they are all off the beaten track and in beautiful places.
2. They’re free. Bothies are maintained by volunteers from the Mountain Bothies Association a charity which solely exists to keep these wonderful places open and available to all. You don’t need to be a member to use a bothy, but for £25/year you can join and help out this wonderful cause.
3. You might meet wonderful people. Now, I have had a mixed experience with the two bothies that I’ve visited. The first was full of teenagers smoking weed, although they were super friendly and willing to let me in as I didn’t fancy sleeping in a hot box. However, my latest visit was exactly the opposite. We set out with the hope that in early January we would be the only people mad enough to set out into this freezing Lake District valley, but we were wrong and I’m so glad. As we approached the bothy in the dark we spotted head torches and smelled the welcoming fire. Once inside, our threesome made the numbers up to ten, plus two dogs, and we were later joined by a pair of cyclists to bring the total to twelve. The atmosphere was amazing; it was one guy, Mark’s, birthday and he and his party had come prepared with cake and drink a plenty. We sat around the roaring stove singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to a perfect stranger and sharing Gin & Tonic and Sake. The bothy was packed with such a great bunch of people who share a passion for the outdoors.
4. The journey. As mentioned these bothies are in remote locations; you can’t just tip up in your car and decant your kit. Getting to the bothy is half the fun. You need to pack the right gear (remember with popular bothies at peak times you may have to stay outside), plan a route and then finally make your way there whether that be on foot or by bicycle. I’m sure you’ll have fun.
5. For the adventure. Staying in a bothy is a bit of a break from the norm and we all need that from time to time. So get outside, find yourself a bothy and enjoy it!