After a successful bothy new year I became a new convert to the simple mountain life. A bothy is an unlocked place of shelter usually found in the highlands of Scotland. Bothies offer different levels of luxury starting from only basic walls and roof, through to a toilet and even electricity. Now having quit the 9 to 5 grind, it was to bothy hopping life I returned.
Rules for bothy hopping adventures
Like everything in life even shelters in the middle of the Scottish wilderness have rules. Fortunately like the simplicity of bothy life itself, they are a few important ones to remember.
Respect Other Users
Please leave the bothy clean and tidy with dry kindling for the next visitors. Make other visitors welcome and be considerate to other users.
Respect the Bothy Hopping
Tell us about any accidental damage. Don’t leave graffiti or vandalise the bothy. Please take out all rubbish which you can’t burn. Avoid burying rubbish; this pollutes the environment. Please don’t leave perishable food as this attracts vermin. Guard against fire risk and ensure the fire is out before you leave. Make sure the doors and windows are properly closed when you leave.
Respect the Surroundings
If there is no toilet at the bothy please bury human waste out of sight. Use the spade provided, keep well away from the water supply and never use the vicinity of the bothy as a toilet.
Never cut live wood or damage estate property. Use fuel sparingly.
Respect Agreement with the Estate
Please observe any restrictions on use of the bothy, for example during stag stalking or at lambing time. Please remember bothies are available for short stays only. The owner’s permission must be obtained if you intend an extended stay.
Respect the Restriction On Numbers
Because of over crowding and lack of facilities, large groups (6 or more) should not use a bothy. Bothies are not available for commercial groups.
Finding a bothy in Scotland
Finding a bothy has been made easier now by the amount of information on the internet. Above is an interactive resource that should help you locate some of the most popular bothies in Scotland. Getting to the more remote sites could be tricky but the reward well worth the effort. Visiting a bothy could easily become as addictive as munro bagging for those who like to tick off lists.
Cairngorm bothy hopping
The first stop on my full time munro bagging mission has been the northern Cairngorm mountain range. Routes to the summits are long and made considerably more accessible by using a mountain bike. To stay out even longer and take in additional summits I’ve been making full use of bothy life.
Top three Cairngorm bothies for munro hopping
The northern Cairngorm range has a multitude of bothies. On my trip so far I’ve made frequent use of three specifically.
Bob Scott’s bothy from Linn of Dee
Bob Scott’s bothy sits around 4km from the forestry commission car park at Linn of Dee. It makes a good base for munro bagging with easy resupply from near by Braemar. You might even bump into the Queen, who likes to visit from Balmoral Castle. Shopping in Co-op will never be the same again.
Connected by excellent estate track. Bob Scott’s bothy can be reached in around 30 minutes by bike. Cycling would help ease the load of extra supplies you might want to carry with you too.
There is plenty of water available from the river near by. Inside the bothy you’ll find a toilet and enough accommodation for around 6 adults. Bob Scott’s makes the perfect first hop to start your munro bagging Cairngorm style.
Corrour bothy at the foot of Devil’s point
A further 8km from Bob Scotts sits Corrour bothy. I again made use of the bike to cycle hop the first 3km to a pine forrest, followed by a final 5km walk in. Corrour bothy sits in the shadow of the Devil’s point. Previously named the Devil’s penis, it was renamed to save Queen Victoria’s blushes.
Smaller than Bob Scott’s, Corrour bothy could fit 6 at a push but would be much more comfortable with 4 adults. Corrour has one of the most luxurious toilet facilities I have came across so far. A fully seated long drop toilet with space for four to share it simultaneously. If that’s not, ‘living your best life’ I don’t know what is.
Corrour makes a good base for hopping further into the belly of the Cairngorm wilderness. I made use of the shelter to hop up four Munros in a single day. Those with higher mountain fitness could add in an even bigger round to get their count up.
Hutchison memorial hut
Hutchison memorial hut sits closer to the Cairngorm ski centre and Aviemore. Again roughly 8km distance from Bob Scott’s bothy. It would be possible to cycle hop a large part of the route but I opted for a long walk in. Hutchinson bothy sits high in the mountains at around 700m in height. Its surrounded by classic munros like Derry Cairngorm and the mighty Ben Macdui.
A similar size to the Corrour bothy, four adults would be a good fit here. Facilities are more limited with the toilet being a spade in the ground. Water is thankfully plentiful with the long walk in. Fresh flowing from the waterfalls above. If you intend on a fire for the night carry your own wood in. The nearest trees are about 4km from the bothy. Keeping warm will also keep you fit.
Bothy hopping diaries, a tale waiting to be told
Any prospective authors out there? Here’s a free tip for your next novel. Bothy hopping is a huge source of character building for any story line. Living closely amongst strangers is an interesting slant on life. You meet people from all walks of life from infantry soldiers, to Cambridge graduates and even professional chefs.
Contrary to what most people might think the majority you meet are harmless and down to earth. Along the way you could across some oddities who would rather sleep in a bivvy bag outside than hold a conversation. Others pop their head in the door, stare and walk on to whatever their next destination might be. Those that engage with you make the night pass quickly with tales of adventure. Every one of them having something in common. A love for the mountains and exploring the Scottish wilderness.
In the coming weeks I will be bagging more munro summits while living the van life on a full time basis in the mountains. Why not come along for the ride? If you meet me in a bothy, don’t be scared to say hello.
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