Bothies are mountain huts, remote shelters, often hundreds of years old with rich histories. They may have once provided all-important shelter for roaming shepherds, houses for estate gardeners, refuges for weather-beaten ghillies, stalkers and fishermen.
Today many of these crumbling stone cottages have been restored to watertight, windproof huts that are enjoyed by adventurous walkers and cyclists alike, providing a solid home in remote parts of the UK that are especially appreciated in the all-too-often adverse conditions!
If you love remote and wild places, there’s little else more magical than reaching a welcoming bothy after a day in the hills. Typically found in Scotland, plus a few in Northern England and Wales, these enchanting little cottages can range from a tiny stone room to spacious houses and everything in between.
Bothies are free to use, for everyone. To keep them this way, everyone that visits and uses bothies must follow the code, including taking all your rubbish with you and respecting these buildings and estates that provide them. Expect that the bothy will have minimal facilities and take everything that you need with you, as well as make sure that you are informed on how to responsibly use the toilet in the wild (aka, there probably won’t be a toilet). Do make sure you read the bothy code before you visit: mountainbothies.org.uk/bothies/bothy-code.
When planning a trip to visit a bothy, you must always be prepared for the worst, if there is not space for you or if the bothy is temporarily closed. Make sure you have kit so you can stay outside if need be, for example a bivvy bag and tarp or a tent.
For most shelters you’ll need to supply your own firewood or coal if it’s cold or wet and you need to light a fire. Make sure you plan this into your trip logistics and packing.
You’ll find that the Tours in this Collection range in accessibility from short routes near train stations to very remote trips that you’ll need several days and a certain level of stamina and experience to complete. By their very nature, bothies tend to be in very remote and sometimes hostile areas so you’ll need to be sufficiently competent with emergency first aid, navigation and emergency procedure should the worst (hopefully not) happen.
Bear the time of year in mind when you’re planning your trip. Tours in the winter season can often be boggy and wet, firewood may be damp and difficult to light. In the peak summer season bothies can become very popular and you may struggle to find a space. The best bet is to visit during the weekdays if you can and avoid the busiest spells in July and August. Do take the midge season into account too, especially in Scotland, and make sure you take repellent and nets with you if you’re riding during the summer months.
All of the Tours in this collection involve some off road riding and some quiet lanes. Therefore, any gravel bike or mountain bike would be suitable within reason, though you’ll probably want at least 40mm wide tyres.
There are a range of tour lengths in this collection, so you can take advantage of the multi-day planner to split each route into daily tours according to your preference.
Find out more about bothies listed under the Mountain Bothy Association here mountainbothies.org.uk/bothies/location-map
Escape to the Cambrian Mountains, aptly named the ‘desert of Wales’ for it’s remote and undiscovered beauty, and enjoy a night’s stay in one of the most luxurious bothies going, Claerddu (pronounced Claire-thee). With a flushing toilet, a full log store and regular maintenance by the Elan Valley Trust…
Nestled next to the reservoir that gives its name, Grwyne Fawr Bothy is a tiny little hut in the Black Mountains of South Wales.
Sleeping no more than three people, you’ll want to make sure you get a space here, so avoid weekends or high summer if you can and always bring alternative shelter, for example…
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Facing the Lake District to the west, Greg’s Hut Bothy is high atop Cross Fell, a peak in the Northern Pennines. This circular route from Penrith is easily accessible by train, with the 51.6 mile (83 km) route best completed over two days.
The first day is longer, including two major climbs, whereas…
This 64.4 mile (104 km) circular route from the town of Haltwhistle in Northumberland explores the graveller’s dream of Kielder Forest Park in Northumberland and Cumbria, with an overnight stop at Kershopehead Bothy on the Scottish and English border.
The train station in this town makes this a really…
Quite a remarkable bothy thanks to its location on the royal estate of Balmoral in Scotland, this is a challenging route that’ll take you past many other bothies and mountain refuges on your journey to Glas-Allt-Shiel. Easily accessible from the town of Aviemore and its train station, I’d recommend you…
Ben Alder Cottage is well-known among hill walkers and mountain bikers in Scotland for being one of the best, and most remote bothies in the Central Highlands. It’s quite an effort to get there, often boggy or marshy, but the raw simplicity of the place, nestled between the peak of Ben Alder and the…
Set in the Scottish Borders, this 86 mile (139 km) route is a circular route from the town of Lockerbie to Over Phawhope Bothy near Moffat after 22.4 miles (36 km). Accessible easily by train and with mostly wide and easy gravel roads, this route is more suitable for novice bikepackers than some of the…
You’ll need to take a ferry to start this Tour, from the Scottish mainland at Oban to Craignure on the Isle of Mull. Getting onto these large sea-faring vessels is all part of the adventure, watching the shores of the beautiful island draw closer as you sail through the waves.
Anyone who’s ever visited…
Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore
Mountain Biking Collection by Scotty Laughland
Mountain Biking Collection by Barney
Hiking Collection by Ferienregion Nationalpark Hohe Tauern