Adventure Diaries: Rowchoish Bothy
All across Scotland, tucked away in the most remote and unlikely places, is a network of ramshackle huts and cabins. Maintained by voluntary workers, these simple cabins are known as Bothies. They come in all shapes and sizes – from two man hideaways to two floor cottages, but inside, they’re pretty similar. An open fire, a few wooden benches to lay your sleeping bag on, a visitors book and if you’re lucky, some baked beans and a pile of firewood left behind by the previous inhabitants.
Bothies provide shelter for thousands of hillwalkers and adventurers every year. In Scotland, the weather can turn in the blink of an eye, so when the clouds draw in and you’re miles from home, a solitary bothy is a welcome refuge and, after a long day of hiking, a positively luxurious alternative to a tent or bivy bag.
A few weeks ago, our friends from Miscellaneous Adventures paid us a visit – and what better way to catch up than to plan a wee adventure together. To our surprise, the Miscellaneous crew hadn’t experience bothy life on Scotland before, so we were eager to share it with them.
It was a fleeting visit, so we made a hasty retreat from the city and headed out to Loch Lomond. Here, the West Highland Way snakes along the eastern shoreline, so we hit the trail and headed into the woods. Andrew is a woodsman through and through, and the miles passed quickly as he pointed out different trees and explained the delicate balance of the forest ecosystem. Much of the woodland floor was coated with a thick bed of moss undulating between the trees.
Hundreds of years ago, there’s no doubt forest nymphs and trolls were common in these parts.
We reached Rowchoish bothy as evening began to draw in. After weeks of heavy rain, much of the wood nearby was wet, but we found some dry deadwood and set to work with axes and pruning saws to produce kindling to last until darkness. The Miscellaneous Adventures guys gave us some top tips for splitting wood, and we gained some insights into how to forage for firewood responsibly, without damaging the environment. Back in the bothy, we fired up our stoves and cooked up some dinner, chatting to some of the other ‘guests’ – a couple of groups of friends walking the West Highland Way together. It was a full house, but more bodies meant more warmth
After a solid night of sleep, packed like sardines on the sleeping platform, we emerged in the morning to find beautiful clear skies and still water. We had a steaming, hand-carved cup of camp coffee down on the beach, and packed our bags – not forgetting to add our names to the visitors book. A couple of hours later, after waving goodbye to Andrew and Emma as they continued their journey north, we were back at the workshop, stinking of woodsmoke, restored and ready for the day ahead. We sharpened our scissors and fired up the sewing machines, inspired by adventure.