There’s something uniquely Scottish about bothys.
These tiny mountain shacks are normally found in remote parts of the Scottish highlands and islands. They can be found in all kinds of conditions – some with running water and a fireplace and even electricity! Other’s don’t have more than an old fashioned hearth where you can throw some logs on to burn.
I never actually stayed in one, because I have a particularly picky partner who would rather sleep in a hotel, however I would love to have the opportunity.
Bothys could be similar to the Kiwi idea of the bach (pronounced batch, and shortened from Bachelor Pad), these are one roomed studios with basic facilities that are normally found near the beach in New Zealand.
However that’s where the similiarity to a bothy ends.
Bothys are a little bit of rugged and rustic Scottish magic. They are communal and community-oriented and this means that if you go on a hike and find the bothie occupied, you either need to share it or find another place to rest your weary head.
Traditionally, bothys aren’t paid accommodation, and so you need to be forgiving if they aren’t posh enough to meet your standards. Originally a place to itinerant workers and herders to rest among other things, bothys are now found on private land. A rule of responsible and fair use goes along with staying in a bothy, which means you need to leave it clean and tidy, leave some chopped wood for the next residents and take your rubbish with you.
Often the social aspect of the bothies can be really enjoyable so people say, as they bring together people from all walks of life. Everyone is keen to share stories and open up in this new and strange environment. I really hope I get to stay in one at least once in my life.
Cosy little mountain bothys to covet
Garbh Choire Refuge
FYI: Also another tip from this seasoned bothy stayer is to have a tent with you or another place to crash, because if the bothy happens to be full that night, then you may have to sleep outside!
FYI: this is more of a paid tiny house rather than a free bothy, but you get what you pay for here….
Little Skye Bothy
FYI: this is also a paid accomodation rather than a bothy but you get the idea…
According to the Mountain Bothy Association, the Lookout is a former coastguard watch station. The front part of the building –the watch room –was built in 1928 by Macleans of Mull. It is equipped with a large bay window enjoying commanding views out over the Minch. Over the years, advances in radio communication meant that the building was no longer required for its original purpose and it has been a bothy since the mid-70’s. It was taken over by the MBA in 2006 and renovated in memory of David J J Brown, an MBA member who was a frequent visitor of the North West of Scotland.
In it’s solitude atop the cliffs of Rubha Hunnish, the bothy has a spectacular view over the Minch, the Isle of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides. In the wee hours of the morning you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of whales and dolphins from it’s large, panoramic windows.
Find out about the Polish bear and myself and our trip to the Isle of Skye, where we stayed in an old crofter’s cottage. If you’re curious and wanting to do a trip to the highlands, take a look at the Mountain Bothy Association’s comprehensive list of bothys.