My first visit to a Mountain Bothy was as a very young boy about 12 making up the numbers for a Duke of Edinburgh expedition in Galloway. The bothy was Back Hill of Bush.
I received this through my blog a while ago about a visit to a bothy in Galloway Backhill of Bush bothy with my brother in 1971 – 51 years ago:
“I once met a chap by the name of Heavy in backhill of bush bothy in the Galloway hills.it was new year 1977. He was there with his brother as we arrived at the bothy and made us feel so very welcome making us a brew and getting our feet up at the fire. We went our separate ways next morning and never met again. I have written about the guys in my memoirs. We sat till the wee hours swapping stories and laughs and that camaraderie we formed still lives with me. I just wondered if you were the same person. I am Ian a lot older though! “
My reply :
It’s was lovely to hear from Ian all these years later. Sadly the bothy at Back Hill is no longer open. I am not sure of why but it was getting misused and I think the forestry had to shut it .
I think but it was my first bothy I visited as a young lad through the Boys Brigade aged 12 .
I will never forget arriving about 12 years old and the fire was on and listening to the tales and stories round the fire. Everyone was so kind and helpful and I was in complete awe of them.
The total exhaustion of arriving after a big day with huge packs and just a wee boy then struggling after a hard day. Being given a cup of tea by some kindly person who saw this wee bedraggled youth and took pity on me. These are things you never forget that hot drink after a day travelling on the hills and the kindness of others.
You never forget the smells of the wood fire, the steaming wet gear and the wood at the door. That was left by the forestry all these memories are still with me over 50 years on!listening to the tales of the mountains and Silver Flow that swallowed forestry machines in its mud. Exhausted and falling asleep by candlelight.
On my big walks across Scotland in the 70’s we stayed in many great Bothies. A few like the Nest of Fannichs are long gone. At times they were a life saver especially on our winter walks. It would be great to find someone had left some dry wood for the next user. You never forget these days.
That’s why I love the Bothies, they are unique to Scotland by allowed grace of the landowners and the Mountain Bothies Association whose great folk who maintain them.
Nowadays there is so much written on on the internet about Bothies even several books giving details of location etc. Many years ago much of these details was by word of mouth.
Things have to change folks sadly yet we must look after them and never take them for granted. I always ensure I take all my litter out with me. Often carrying huge bags of rubbish out.
Many years ago we would after the winter get out with the helicopter and the new aircrew on the helicopters and show them the Bothies in the area. It was all part of the aircrews learning Area Knowledge as the Bothies were always a place to check when looking for a missing person. We would take lots of rubbish and “other items” away in the days before Health & Safety stopped this!
A few years ago I was honoured to speak to the Mountain Bothy Association at their AGM in Newtonmore. I met many of the characters that make this wee organisation so incredible. With the rise in blogs like mine, twitter and Instagram etc the Bothies can be very busy causing a few problems,
Hopefully the Bothies will survive and those who use them will treat them with the respect they are due? There are in my view Tricky time’s ahead as Landowners are seeing a change in the Bothies use by large groups and at time’s the mess they leave.
Many bothies would make ideal get away accommodation for the estates ? These are in great demand nowadays.
I have sadly seen several being updated for this use over the years. They are unique and are a fantastic way to get to know the remote hills and glens.
I hope they remain with us to give many that great introduction to the wild places. We will never know how many lives they have saved over the years? I for one will never be able to recreate the joy of my first visit to Back Hill.
My brother who passed away last year left a donation to the Mountain Bothies Association in his will. He like me loved the Bothies though he lived for 50 years in Bermuda he would always return for a few nights in a bothy. He loved the peace of the hills and the Bothies especially in winter. What memories we did a lot of trips together and he like me had so many memories of great nights in Bothies all over Scotland.
“Leave nothing but footprints take nothing but photos.”
Chris Townsend writes “A classic on bothies is Dave Brown and Ian R. Mitchell’s Mountains Days and Bothy Nights. Published in 1987 and with tales going back to the 1960s this is a fascinating book, well worth reading.”
From the MBA website
Please be aware that this website is the only up to date source of information about MBA bothies and regular updates will be given here. Please consult the relevant bothy page before your visit and observe any restrictions on use. Information provided in books, magazines and social media platforms may be incorrect, misleading or out of date. Some MBA bothies are locked by their owners during certain periods; details of those are noted on the individual bothy pages on this website.
Please if you enjoy or have used a bothy why not join or donate to the MBA.