The Scottish Bothy Bible
The Scottish Bothy Bible is the first complete guide to Scotland’s bothies. The perfect resource for any bothy fan, and ideal for anyone happily transported to hidden corners of the country from the comfort of their armchair. A prized, signed copy of this awarding-winning book is only available here.
About the book
Fancy staying the night for free with a roof over your head, in some of the most amazing places in Scotland, needing little more than the stuff you would take camping, with no need to book, and no wardens to bother you? Welcome to the wonderful world of bothies. These open shelters, varying in size from little more than a garden shed, to a former youth hostel housed in a three-bedroom cottage, are dotted all over Scotland, and available for anyone to use. All you need is the motivation to get there. This is all thanks to a voluntary organisation called the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA), which maintains a network of these special places, making sure that they are always wind-proofed and water-tight, and keeping them spick and span. Bothies are found in some fantastic, out-of-the-way locations, but many of them are surprisingly close to a road, making them easy to visit even if you are not planning to stay the night, and perfect as a lunch spot when on a wander in the hills. Geoff Allan has hiked and biked to every popular Scottish bothy, and is the perfect companion to help you explore these hidden treasures that are a remarkable feature of Scotland's outdoor culture. An authoritative, impeccably researched reference book, packed with information on each bothy, including fascinating historical details as well as local attractions and activities. The first ever comprehensive Scottish bothy guide.
Even after getting on for thirty years, I still feel a surge of anticipation, mixed with a sense of quiet satisfaction and relief when I first glimpse a bothy in the distance, or looming out of the dark if I have set off late in the day. The heart-warming sight of the familiar Mountain Bothies Association sign fixed to the bothy door triggers all sorts of happy memories, before I quickly focus on getting myself warm with a hot drink, and assess how easy it is going to be to light a fire. Kindling and cut logs are a real bonus to add to the coal I often carry in, and, within half an hour of busying, I am set up for the night, flames flickering in the hearth, tea lights spread around the room, wine in hand and pasta on the boil, happy to embrace company and conversation if they should come to pass. After a bit of perspiration and effort, there is a real magic to the experience of being able to arrive at overnight accommodation in some amazing locations, without the hassle of booking or wardens, and wake up to views that are not bettered even by the most exclusive hotels. As with so many travel experiences, bothying is a powerful affirmation of the benefit of pushing a little further.
I first caught the bothy bug as an undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh and went on my inaugural Hogmanay excursion to the University Mountaineering Club Hut, hidden behind the hills on the road to Skye. As an eighteen year old, fresh up from the pastoral lands of Suffolk, I had never heard of bothies, and became intrigued about this network of freely available shelters dotted about the wilderness areas of Scotland, run by a volunteer organisation called the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA). The next year I became club bothy secretary, visited my first MBA, Shenavall, a wonderful, well-known bothy located in the shadow of An Teallach on the edge of the Fisherfield Forest, and began a journey that has ultimately led to the writing of this book, the first ever comprehensive guide to Scottish bothies. Over the years, I steadily accumulated places visited, finessed how to make my trips as comfortable as possible, and became immersed in bothy culture, swapping anecdotes by the fire and learning of other treasured locations only known to a select few in what was still very much a secretive, word of mouth world.
Today the grid references of all the MBA bothies are published online, and, recognising a ground swell of interest in bothies and bothy culture, I struck on the idea of this book and set out on an odyssey that has taken me five years to complete. The endeavour of visiting or revisiting all the most popular bothies, including all those maintained by the MBA in Scotland, was made more challenging because, for the vast majority of the time, I have not had the use of a car, so most of my trips were undertaken using a combination of my trusty mountain bike and public transport, be it a Calmac ferry out to the Western Isles, or a train to Mallaig, Kyle of Lochalsh or Lairg. Mainly solo and with camera in hand, I have crisscrossed the country, rediscovering it at a slower pace, which I have described in more whimsical terms in a blog called bothiesonabike. Writing up my endless scribbled notes has been a labour of love and given me the opportunity to both pass on the wealth of experience I have accumulated and enthuse about my passion.I hope to inspire you to go out into the Scottish hills, enjoy the ever changing hues of landscape and light and discover the world of bothies for yourself.
The guide has been tailored to provide concise information and essential advice for every reader, from those stepping out on their first bothy adventure and curious to learn more, to the regular who may want to set their sights on more far flung locations, and even complete a full round. Each bothy entry provides a historical background and sense of place, an account of the building, plus a detailed route description. I have also provided information about the nearest hills to climb, geographical highlights which may not at first glance be obvious, and places of interest, from neolithic brochs to castles and crannogs. You can also find my recommendations for local hostelries and cafes to try out.
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