Before we go into what a Bothy is and why they are so important we would first like to thank the Mountain Bothies Association and in particular Andy Mayhew (Trustee/Newsletter Editor) for all the amazing information and images!
Right so let us get into it! Bothies and bothying are described as many things but let us make this clear, they are not holiday homes, think camping but without tents and you will be closer to the mark. A Bothie is an old shelter, barn, condemned building or a simple storage building that the land owner has given permission for you to stay there. These bothies have been stripped to their bare foundations and have been rebuilt so hikers and adventurers can shelter from the bad weather, have a place to eat or even to get a bit of shut eye!
Don’t go into a bothy thinking it’s a five star hotel or hostel, you should always assume that there will be no facilities, no taps, sinks, beds, running water, lights and even if there is a fire place there might not be any wood to burn! Another thing to consider is that anybody can use a bothie so if you turn up to one for a good night’s kip but another group is already there be prepared to sleep on the floor and in most cases that will be a cold stone floor! But hey that’s all part of the bothying adventure.
Before you head off to a bothy please remember that most of them (if not all of them) are located in the middle of nowhere so make sure you are a good map reader (or know someone who has been before) and make sure you have brought the right equipment as well, stove, gas and warm layers because we all know even in the summer it can get rather cold in Britain and Scotland. Once you have bothyed a couple of times you will know what to take and what not to, you will pick it up quickly and easily as you go along.
There is such thing as the “Bothy Code” which is upheld by the MBA and is a brilliant guide to go by when staying in a Bothy.
The Code is as follows:
Respect Other Users
Please leave the bothy clean and tidy with dry kindling for the next visitors. Make other visitors welcome. If they are not MBA members set a good example.
Respect the Bothy
Tell us about any accidental damage. Don’t leave graffiti or vandalise the bothy. Please take out ALL
rubbish which 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 site. 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 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 overcrowding and lack of facilities, large groups (6 or more) should not use a bothy nor camp near a bothy without first seeking permission of the owner.
So that’s bothies and bothying in a nutshell really! If you would like more information on bothies, to join the MBA or see what bothies are near where you live then head over to: www.mountainbothies.org.uk and you will find all the information there.