bothy | /ˈbɒθi/
noun (plural bothies)
(in Scotland) a small hut or cottage, initially for housing farm labourers and today for use as a mountain shelter.
Utilising a bothy is a rite of passage for anyone interested in the outdoors. To find unique buildings that are full of stories from the distant past, that have stood through countless storms and sunny days, and that now provide shelter as you roam the hills is a wonderful feeling. From the people who built it, through those who lived in it, to the people who visited last week, the story of each bothy is a record of the many lives that have crossed its path and called it home.
Given how well trodden the world has become, bothies are an incredible asset in the British outdoor landscape, allowing people to escape modern life and explore our natural heritage. For this reason we're working with the Mountain Bothy Association to promote the proper & considered use of these unique shelters so that they can be kept whole for future generations to enjoy, and for their tales to be told and celebrated.
If you have a great tale from a night spent in a bothy, we’d love to hear it. Submit your story and a photo to our collection, and have a browse of the great stories from adventurers everywhere.
Chris Tiso's Story
McCook’s Cottage, Perthshire
In the mid 1980’s I was a teenage pupil at Rannoch, a rural Perthshire school famed for instilling a tough resilience in its charges through a commitment to outdoor based activities all year round and regardless of season.
This included frequent expeditions into rugged and remotes parts of Scotland. Ben Alder was considered reasonably accessible and camping in the area was fairly common.
On one occasion and in atrociously wet and windy conditions a small group of us found ourselves taking refuge in what we referred to as Ben Alder bothy but which is properly known as McCook’s Cottage.
It was a small, typically basic affair but largely wind and water tight. Its location, set in the shadow of Ben Alder and close to both water and a small copse of trees is best described as atmospheric but on a wild night to school boys with vivid imaginations it can take on something else entirely more sinister.
Of course we knew the haunting stories which had circulated for years which centred around rumours of the madness of a previous occupant driven to suicide, leading to countless accounts of mysterious noises and movements.
Some of what we experienced can be explained easily by the storm raging outside but some not so easily. Despite our best attempts to rationalise our fears we quickly worked ourselves into a heightened state of anxiety such that we ultimately elected to forgo the relative comfort of the dwelling.
We retreated to the woodland opposite in the middle of the night where we spent a wet but altogether less frightened few hours before dawn finally arrived to save us.
I have returned to the area many times since but never spent another night in the bothy.
A Beginners Bothy Guide
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Scotland's Top 10 Bothies
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