Dusk is approaching. You’ve been out all day exploring deep into the untouched lands of Scotland, or maybe northern England, or Wales. It’s too far to return to a B&B, but you have no tent. What you do have in your rucksack is some food, a sleeping bag, and maybe you also have a bivvy bag.
Are you a bivvy or a bothy fan?
Journey into some of the wildest and remotest spots of the UK and you will find old, empty houses left open for you to use…and it won’t cost you a penny. Thanks to the fantastic work of the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA), who celebrate 50 years this autumn, the UK is home to a network of hundreds of bothies, lovingly maintained by volunteers. In her new book The Book of the Bothy, Phoebe Smith celebrates 26 of the very best bothies in the country. From coastal lookouts, to mountain refuges, forest lodges and even a former schoolhouse, she shares her own memories of staying in some of her favourite shelters.
Bothies come in all shapes and sizes but are essentially stone tents – walkers will need to carry in and carry out everything they require. Some of the bothies featured in this book can be reached in a half day’s walk, for others technical and/or navigation skills are needed, especially in winter, with some river crossings or scrambling required. Accessible all year round, they can provide a shelter in a storm or be a destination in themselves, either for an overnight stop, or a base for longer adventures.
Alongside notes on legends and landscape, wildlife and history, the book is full of expert guidance and tips on how to make use of bothies, from packing lists to bothy etiquette and the best walking routes in. Inspiring and fun, the book showcases bothies in Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons, Lake District, Pennines, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and Northumberland.
If you’re a bivvy fan, then you’ve probably already come across Ronald Turnbull and his iconic book, The Book of the Bivvy. Ronald’s informed but humorous, instructive but wry look at the world of the bivouac is certainly the first, and perhaps the last, word on this unexplored territory. His accounts of bivvybag nights and expeditions, both nice and nasty, alternate with practical chapters for the uninitiated who are tempted to have a go.
You haven’t read either of these books yet?
Cicerone are offering 25% discount on all printed guidebooks to all OE readers.
Visit www.cicerone.co.uk and enter the code OEREADER.
This offer ends August 2016.