Saturday, 6 April 2019
A Bothy Sleepover.
Most people have at least heard of the word Bothy, but whenever I talk about the idea of bothies to non outdoorsie people, they always for some reason think of a pub. (I mean there is no doubt that there is a lot of pubs in Scotland with the word Bothy in the name!)
So what is a Bothy?
It's a dwelling that can be used for free, by anyone. You get them all over the UK, in remote areas. They offer refuge for a night, or a few. They are particularly good for stormy weather if your stuck in the middle of nowhere, and loads of people tour the country with the purpose of visiting as many of these bothies as possible, and after my first night in one I can honestly understand why.
My first ever Bothy, I am told, was a pretty cushy one. (I can't disclose the location, as this is the owners wish.)
My first ever Bothy sleepover was with University. (That's right, my degree is amazing and I get to do things like go on Bothy trips!) We are studying a module called "Residential Outdoor Education," so it seemed right that we experience a night away, and only a few of us had ever experienced a bothy.
So after a day full of classes, we headed up the mountains. We started walking at about 5ish, the sun set as we were walking and the torches went on. The temperature dropped rapidly but I didn't feel it until we were nearly there. (Uphill walks really make my body work, and my Asthma was not enjoying it!)
Walking in the night has a sort of weird feeling to it, it was beautiful, and the stars where out in force. But you also can't see very far other than the view of your head torch, so in that sense it can be really eerie. As we were walking up, we could hear this loud noise that is similar to thousands of bugs crawling, that real beetle-y noise. We turned our heads, ( and torches) to where the noise was coming from and there was a flock of sheep squelching through the mud.
The higher we got, the icier it got. At a few points the path was literally like an ice rink, and we had to bounce through the heather instead, and after jumping across a little stream, sliding across an iced over bridge, going through a fence, and about four hours of walking, we reached the Bothy. By that point it was about 8/8.30ish. I was exhausted and hungry. The Bothy was a lovely sight. The Bothy itself was beautiful, a fire, tools to use if we needed it, beds, books, pans, everything you needed for a comfy stay. It felt like going back into a time where technology didn't exist, something that I never expected to be relaxing but was the biggest weight off my shoulders I've had in a long time.
We got the fire going, and we ate.
It was at that point I realised that I actually couldn't keep my eyes open. As soon as I stopped being on the go my energy was just gone. Everyone else was suggesting a game of cards against humanity, which I desperately wanted to play, but I fell asleep. As I was asleep, my class continued their game of cards against humanity. I'm told it was a good game. I didn't even hear them. (I normally can't sleep through any noise, never mind 8 people playing a game.) I must have been exhausted.
Fast forward to 5 am, the impending need to pee, and the sound of heavy rain pelting the windows. The last thing I wanted to do was go outside, ESPECIALLY for that kind of need. We'll skip the rest of that part of the story!
8 am, and we're on our way down. The rain is still pelting down, and we have 2 hours to get to the bus. It should be possible, we're going downhill this time. The ice is still there on the path, now with a lovely fresh layer of water, just for added excitement and sense of danger. The lower we got, the muddier it got. At one point I slipped and twisted my ankle, which hurt for about 2 seconds in the classic twisting-of-the-ankle way, so I kept walking. It wasn't until I got home I realised that I had properly hurt it. (2 weeks, and an x-ray later, I found out I had sprained my ankle!) But we had managed to make it down, 5 miles, in 2 hours. The bus had never felt so good, despite the fact that we were all sitting there in our own personal puddles.
I'm really excited to try out more bothies. I've got a few on a list that I want to go to next. The whole idea that there are places that people can use for free, for refuge, is lovely. It really reminds me how good humanity can be sometimes. And even better, when you're there, it's just you and the hills!
Anyway, until next time.
Your Adventurous Introvert!