Scottish Bothy Walks
Scottish Bothy Walks is the sequel to the best-selling Scottish Bothy Bible and describes 28 sensational walking adventures to Scotland’s finest bothies. Choosing his favourite bothies as the focal point, Geoff Allan guides the reader on a mix of day walks and multi-day excursions, highlighting the incredible mountains, wildlife, geography and history that you will find along the way.
About the book
Bothy Walks is a natural companion to my first book, The Scottish Bothy Bible. In this volume, I showcase some of the best bothies in the country, setting out a range of short hikes, mountain climbs and multi-day expeditions using these unique shelters as a focal point. Over the last two years I have eagerly retraced my steps around the bothy network, checking out routes for inclusion here, and adding a raft of new images to my photographic archive. My aim has been to tempt you out into Scotland’s rugged and beautiful landscape, whatever your level of ability. The walks range from a stroll along the cliffs above Rackwick Bay to the Old Man of Hoy on the Orkney Archipelago, to a challenging traverse of the ‘Bad Step’ on Skye. As well as including all the essential technical details, each entry offers a taste of what makes the area special, from its unique geology, wildlife and flora, to the intriguing history and culture of its people. And there are a few personal reminiscences along the way…
Even after more than 30 years spent exploring Scotland’s nooks and crannies, I still feel a surge of anticipation and delight when I see a bothy in the distance, even if I have visited it many times before. My adventures into the bothy world began during my student days in the late-1980s, when I became an enthusiastic member of the Edinburgh University Mountaineering Club. By my second year of study, I was bothy secretary for the club hut, Glenlicht House, tucked away beneath the mountains of Kintail, and had begun to seek out bothy locations. At the time, these were closely guarded secrets, held only by a knowledgeable few. One of my first discoveries was the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) bothy at Camban (described in Walk 8), which sits on the lonely pass between Glen Affric and Gleann Lichd. I vividly remember staring up at the mist-laden Munros surrounding the bothy, not quite believing that this isolated refuge was free to use by anyone who had the wherewithal to get there. Soon I had acquired a prized copy of the MBA bothy grid references (finally published online by the MBA in 2009), and stumbled upon Irvine Butterfield’s 1972 Survey of Shelters in Remote Mountain Areas of the Scottish Highlands. This treasure trove of information became the basis of my own precious bothy list, and inspired an even greater passion to travel around the country.
Through my love affair with bothies I have developed an intimate personal relationship with the Scottish Highlands, a bond that has only intensified since the autumn of 2011, when I hit upon the idea of producing a countrywide bothy guide. Without the use of a car, it took five years to complete the survey and research all the background material – the vast majority of fieldwork undertaken using my trusty bike and public transport. With the luxury of time, I have been lucky enough to rediscover the country at a slower pace and get a deeper feel for the history that has played out across the landscape over millennia. The Scottish Bothy Bible was finally published in March 2017 and went on to win UK Travel Guidebook of the Year.
Much thought has been invested in choosing the walks and bothies in this guide. The selection represents my absolute favourite bothy locations with the most memorable and beautiful approaches. You will find routes that not only range over the whole of Scotland, but also are suitable for a broad spectrum of fitness levels and experience. I have included a mix of day walks and multi-day adventures, and have been conscious not to create itineraries that are too complex or that replicate suggestions in other Scottish walking books. All the day walks return to the same location, whether circular or there-and-back, so there is no requirement for two cars or an anxious hitch-hike to retrieve a vehicle. It is also important to emphasise that each bothy is a worthy objective in itself, as well as a base from which to climb mountain tops or explore additional places of interest. On a dreich morning or a lazy sunny afternoon I have often set out to visit a bothy just to have a look around. Happiness comes from the satisfaction of having a simple objective combined with the opportunity to venture off the beaten track.
Creating The Scottish Bothy Bible was a life-changing experience for me, and I hope Scottish Bothy Walks will encourage even more people out into the hills. Enjoy the descriptions of the walks and the photographs that accompany them. Hopefully they will inspire you to make your own journeys and build lasting relationships with the bothies and mountains that I know and love.
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