What is a bothy?

Simple shelter overlooking a valley

Simple shelter overlooking a valley

A bothy is a simple shelter, often located in remote terrain.

Some are old stalkers cottages or outhouses, while others are custom build in more recent times. All offer a respite from the weather and often good company.

What’s inside?

They vary in size, shape, and amenities, with many offering wooden bunks, a table and a few seats and, most importantly, a wood burning fire. With no electricity or heating, the fire offers a weary walker both light and heat.

This is not always the case, and some will just about keep you dry.

You’ll need to bring everything in to keep yourself comfortable including sleeping bags and mats, as well as food. It’s also important to take everything away with you as there is no rubbish collection service!

Looking out from a Bothy window, water boiling in small camping stove on windowsill

Looking out from a Bothy Window, tea is brewing.

Finding a bothy

Although bothies are a well kept secret, there are many ways to find out where bothies are located. By joining the Mountain Bothy Association (MBA) you are supporting the upkeep of these wonderful places. On the MBA website there is a section that provides the grid reference of individual bothies. Linked with a map, you can then figure out the location of these.

There is also the fantastic book “The Bothy Bible” which gives a great overview of a number of bothies, as well as giving a timing and route to reach these sites.

Whichever you chose, make sure you do your research first, as sleeping space is on a “first-come, first-served” basis. For the popular bothies it is often a good idea to bring a tent too, just in case there is no space inside!


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