I’ve currently been tucked up in bed at nights with the wind howling outside ( Storm Imogen I believe ;) ) and a good book , one that I have become thoroughly engrossed in. The Book Of The Bothy by Phoebe Smith is a celebration of these humble ‘stone tents’ that offer a basic shelter and roof over the head of weary walkers in the remotest parts of the UK. Phoebe , a renowned travel journalist and serial ‘Bothy bagger’, has chosen 26 of her favourite MBA ( Mountain Bothies Association) bothies to hike to,spend the night in and write about. On the back of the book Phoebe explains ‘ I believe, if you wanted to, you could spend a whole summer staying in bothies, travelling from place to place,taking in one spectacular landscape after another with nothing but your rucksack, map and thirst for adventure. And the best thing? It wouldn’t cost you a penny….‘
It’s true, bothies are Free! Free places to stay for anyone and everyone. They are often abandoned farmsteads or cottages, sometimes with only one room and sometimes larger. They are incredibly basic inside with no running water, electricity or bathroom facilities. They are always a good hike away from civilisation of any kind and are left unlocked so wandering walkers can bed down in them for the night. The MBA looks after 100 bothies around Britain. Most of them are found in the wilds of Scotland but there are a few in Northern England and rural Wales which are mentioned in the book.
The Book of the Bothy is set out for an easy and informative read. There’s a map in the front with the locations of the bothies dotted in red. Phoebe’s introduction covers the history of bothies, their pro’s ( space to sleep, escape from midges etc) and cons ( Mice, spider’s, loud snorers! ) ,what to take, bothy etiquette ( leaving it tidy etc) and safety.
She also mentions Bothy traditions such as walker’s sharing a sip of whisky or two from a sigg bottle and of course filling in the Bothy Book. Every bothy has a kind of visitor’s book in which walkers can record their stays adventures and experiences. Seems like a useful tradition. :)
The rest of this handy guide concentrates on each individual bothy and Phoebe tells the reader the routes she followed ( there’s always a handy map reference), what to look out for ( wildlife,landmarks etc), essential information ( water sources, facilities etc) and she also writes her own Bothy Book entry for each property. :)
I’m really enjoying reading about Phoebe’s Bothy bagging and even though I usually hyperventilate at the thought of hiking anywhere…….this book is almost inspiring me to seek out a bothy. I think I would have to persuade Wil too, mind. What about you? Would you stay in a bothy??
You can buy The Book of the Bothy at www.cicerone.co.uk