Lost Bothys and days past.

Auchalleter Bothy

Auchallater Bothy well used by RAF MR Teams?


The RAF Mountain Rescue Teams have trained all over Scotland since 1944 and had great access to many areas that few mountaineers at the time struggled to get to. The Estates were in general pretty good to us as we had a history of assisting at times with the odd injured keepers or ghillies. These were great days and over the years we had good liaison with Estates who would let us use some of the Estates accommodation. We also had permission in places like Glen Affric/ Strathfarrar and the Fannichs to use a few estate houses/ garages. In addition the RAF Teams started using many village halls giving them some cash for the use over our weekend stays.  This helped keep many village Halls financially afloat and helped them gain grants over the years.

1957 Glencoe - wild camping on a callout - no chance nowadays.

1957 Glencoe – wild camping on a callout – no chance nowadays.

Before this the teams camped Summer and winter these were hard times. We had it easy I suppose? I have lots of tales from older team members of the epic winter camping. I camped below the screes in Glencoe with the Team in the early 70’s. No showers or bunhouses then or toilets !

The now renovated Broullin Lodge in Strathfarrar.

The now renovated Broullin Lodge in Strathfarrar. An old Base Camp for the RAF MRT.

These bothies gave us great access to the Glens and we used to get to know the keepers of these Estates. This was long before the “Right to Roam” and Freedom of access came in. We had so much help from many of the Estates and it was so beneficial over the years as was the great local knowledge of the Keepers.


1974 - White cottage / Strawberry cottage in Glen Affric now a private house.

1974 – White cottage / Strawberry cottage in Glen Affric now a private house.

These were great places being in a remote Glen for the weekend especially in winter, no phones in these days. It would be a cheap weekend as we carried our own beer paid for by honesty chits from the teams subscriptions which in the old days team member’s could get a loan from, wages then were poor.  If we were called out  in these remote Glens the local Policeman would have to drive up to tell us of a call – out. Then it may be the midnight pack and head to Glencoe, Cairngorms , Glencoe or even further afield.  These were great days as a night in a bothy always is incredible as long as were not called out. Get the fire on and the stories out.

1980 inverilort-castle-bothy

1980 Inverailort-castle-bothy what a place to stay !


After call outs new bothys were used as was the Inverailort Castle after the tragic Shackleton crash in the 60’s. This incredible place was used by the RAF Kinloss Team up to the late 1990’s.  We made great friends of the many of the locals many that still last to this day.

McRaes Barn in Glen Brittle Skye used up to the late 80's

1959 MacRaes Barn in Glen Brittle Skye used up to the late 80’s

The Barn at Glen Brittle in Skye owned by the MacRae family was a great bothy over the years. We used the Barn to sleep in and the garage to cook in I wonder what the Food Safety people would say? Straight of the ridge to the bothy and a brew what a place and meeting the owner Gideon MacRae who was a legend on Skye for mountaineers was a great privilege. The tales would come out of past rescues in Skye and I would just sit and listen.  I maybe never knew how lucky I was then?

Mac Reas Barn Skye

1972 – Mac Raes Barn Skye

We used the same bothies often and had some great contacts, we could also use them on call – outs and they became great Base Camps like the Barn in Skye. Few locals got upset at us arriving in the middle of the night on a call – out.

1983 Macraes Barn - I look fed up it was the going back to work as the weather was great?

1983 MacRaes Barn – Loved this place.

1986 I look fed up must be having to go back to work?

1986 I look fed up must be having to go back to work? We often spent Grants here no washing apart from the burns and the sea. How many would do that now. It is all bunkhouses and showers, thanks Goodness!

I have so many great memories so many bothies I wonder if anyone has others that meant so much? What a privileged we had.

Teallach at Fannich Lodge bothy.

Teallach at Fannich Lodge bothy. What a place to stay in winter what views and what memories.

Lost Bothys Role of Honour?

Cameron’s Barn – Glen Nevis

MacRaes Barn Skye

White Cottage – Affric

Broulin Lodge – Strathfarrar

Fannich Lodge-

Alder Lodge

Arran – Home Farm

Dundonnel – Farm

Auchaller Bothy – Braemar – more to follow?


I am looking for a photo of the Nest of Fannichs can anyone help me???



About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Bothies, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Mountain rescue, Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Lost Bothys and days past.

  1. Great memories there, Heavy. Underlines how much times have changed even in the hills we often think of as timeless.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Raz frew says:

    Traverse of MacRae’s rafters. Classic Skye VS

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark says:

    Peter Kemp, (Big Hills and Wee Men) posted this photo of Nest bothy on Scottishhills.com a while back.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark says:

    Trying this again;


  5. somerled01 says:

    You were kind enough to take myself and my mate Davey Hislop under your wing in the early 70’s where you took us up Cioch na h’Oighe and later on over the A’Chir ridge in glorious weather. Brodick Home Farm was much better than the tent we couldn’t find up Glen Rosa in the dark. I went on to climb a bit with Chris Chapman of Borders MRT fame then latterly spent a lot of time with Kenny Spence bouncing down Scottish whitewater.
    Thank you for the sardines in tomato sauce!
    Pete McDougall


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.