Sunday, 7 April 2019

North of Fort William. Bothy Trip.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
Received an invite recently from old friends John and Gavin to go on a weekend bothy trip. As this is not an MBA bothy but an estate one I'll keep the location to myself. Even John, a 50 plus bothy night walk in veteran didn't know of this one which is weird considering Gavin and myself have known about it for decades. We just assumed he knew so never mentioned it.
When I mentioned in my book, Autohighography, that we often used to walk into remote bothies at night, some without a track or path, even mild scrambling and crossing unseen rivers knee deep in the dark, several of my non climbing/hill-walking friends just didn't believe it. They thought I was making it up ... so here we are walking into a Highland bothy at night with head-torches, next to a deep mountain river. Nothing to it really, provided you know where you are going and are aware of any serious rivers, gorges and cliffs en route.  We had a few brief snow showers on the way in but they are preferable to rain as snow doesn't soak you the same- in fact it can be fun and a snow covered landscape is often easier to cross at night.
Fine dining was had on arrival....
And a bothy fire is a must. Being old school you cant beat an open fire rather than a sealed off wood burning stove. You really need to sit beside dancing flames and flickering candles to get the full bothy experience.
There was not a lot of snow on the peaks on the way up. Blackmount Hills here near Glen Etive. Snow flurries most of the journey.
Glen Etive ridges.
The next morning John and Gavin went up a hill but I stayed around the bothy as I had climbed it before.
Hill in the distance over the horizon. I waved them off with a grin. Such intrepid mountaineers.
Meanwhile, I prowled around the river, spotting frog spawn in puddles and even a lone frog guarding its spawn from harm.
At least I assumed that was the reason it was sitting on top of the jelly lump and never moved. Laying eggs is hard work for a frog. Maybe it just needed a rest while they hatched into dragonflies. Understanding the complex wonders of nature is my best subject.
Sheep came to visit me as well, then a few folk on a long distance hike from one glen to the next. I sat outside and soaked up the sunshine, reading a book. One long distance walker seemed a bit peeved by my lack of enthusiasm for energetic pursuits. "Where are your mates" he asked, noticing the extra sleeping mats and gear inside the bothy.
" Up the hill," says I cheerfully.
" How come you're down here then?" He demanded. " Are you injured?"
" Nope. Done it all before. A living legend sits before you. A human dormouse now. Only move fast these days if I'm on fire. Mostly I'm asleep. Hibernating through the winter months."
By his expression this didn't seem to be a good enough reason for avoiding uphill punishment.
"It's a suntrap here." I explained patiently. "Fairly sheltered... but I already know there's a bitterly cold wind up there on the heights so that's why I prefer this cosy option. It was grey, freezing, and dull up there only half an hour ago. I'm a honey and sunlight creature me. Comfort first these days inside the nest box."
He seemed to find this idea of sloth inexcusable.
" Plenty of other hills to climb. ", He elaborated, waving his arm vaguely around the neighbouring slopes.
" Done them all as well in my hasty youth." I smiled a winning smile, perfectly content in my chair. " I'm very busy here as you can see." I held up my book. " Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. A modern Gothic classic. Over one thousand pages of English magic to get through and learn. Hard graft and dedication required." I waved him away to his own urgent devices as his friends were keen to move on.
" All this"... he turned in a slow circle to demonstrate the wonders of the surrounding upwardly rising scenery... "and you're reading a book!? " he complained.
"Yup. It's a free country. Even the flat stuff. "
I tried a disappearing spell on him and sure enough he soon vanished from sight... but I can't take any credit for it as he used his legs, catching up with his departing companions, leaving me with peace and sunshine again.
I got my exercise when it dulled right down an hour later... so starting to get cold, I warmed up by hunting around for fallen wood and branches by which time the boys had returned and we tidied up then walked out to the road.
An enjoyable trip.
Fort William ridges on the walk back out to the road. Snow showers on and off all day.
Bitterly cold once in the wind and out of the sun but not much snow for late March.
The end.
And true beauty and design to finish on. A gift for Catherine the Great.






10 comments:

Carol said...

You're being deliberately annoying now! A bothy north of Fort William (quite a few of those)... your mates went up 'a hill' (no name, no designation)... okay, I give up!
(took my about 10 mins to leave this comment by the way)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
I was channeling my inner Mr Norrel, a magician famous for guarding his secrets well. After all, I can't very well tell everyone online where it is when I've kept it hidden from a best friend for 30 years :o)
The secret to the 'I'm not a robot' is to do it slowly, tick the boxes then count to ten before clicking. I,m usually in 1st or 2nd go that way.
Fantastic clock.

Linda W. said...

The mountain views are beautiful! Nothing like hiking to a distant cabin in the mountains.

Rosemary said...

That little bothy is just the kind of building I am looking for, but I want it here in the Cotswold. Something that size would suit me perfectly now.
In his youth my husband walked regularly in the Alps. The mountain huts had just one large raised wooden platform made from rustic wooden boards which everyone spending the night there would sleep on using their rucksacks as a pillow. I imagine that the facilities are far more refined today.

Anabel Marsh said...

I shan’t try to guess your secret location - no way can I imagine myself staying in a Bothy, even one that looks as sweet as that one. You passer-by palbsounds really annoying.

Andy said...

Secret bothies are always one's to treasure and they need to be kept that way with the masses that now invade the MBA one's and totally disrespect them. There is a time for climbing hills and a time for sitting in the sun and reading a book! :)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda, fortunately it's not an epic walk in, being pitch black with no snow cover low down. Hardly any snow this winter.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Rosemary,
The bright windows give it sparkle but it's pretty basic inside... sleep on the floorboards, no Water or electricity, a table and half a dozen chairs. All bothy folk need for a happy weekend. You can still find really basic mountain huts in the Alps, Spain, Italy, and Corsica, depending where you go. I prefer them.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
I think he was just suffering under a big pack and thought I should suffer as well :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Very few of them left now Andy. A lot of folk do know this one but in the early days of the blog I mentioned a very quiet one and within a year it got very busy and shut for good. Learned my lesson about posting online.