Attribution: Jim Macdonald and David Ritchie (Shenval bothy)
For many, many years walkers in the Highlands have made use of remote mountain buildings – bothies. These buildings, often in remote locations, are used for shelter in poor weather and for extending trips into remote areas without the need to carry tents and other camping gear.
Many of the bothies would once have been dwellings, probably used as such till the late 19th or early 20th centuries.
They vary greatly in style and ‘facilities’ offered. Some are very simple indeed with maybe four walls, a roof and a wooden floor. Others can be surprisingly comfortable with rooms, sleeping platforms, fireplaces and, even in a few cases, working toilets. Some estates maintain the bothies they own but many others are maintained by the volunteers of the estimable ‘Mountain Bothies Association’ set up “to maintain simple shelter in remote country for the use and benefit of all who love wild and lonely places” (subscription in 2010 is £20/year and if you’ve building skills you’d be a very welcome member).
I’d like to quote from their website to give a flavour of bothy life:
“When going to a bothy, it is important to assume there will be no facilities. No tap, no sink, no beds, no lights and, even if there is a fireplace, perhaps nothing to burn …. If all this sounds rather rough, you are beginning to get the picture. Your comforts have to be carried in.”