Autumn’s properly upon us, along with the icier weather, so how to explore the Great Outdoors when the temperatures up in the UK’s most mesmeric wildernesses plummet to punishing levels?
They may be dank, dark, draughty abandoned estate buildings for the most part, but the unique form of wilderness accommodation that we call the bothy is a veritable palace out on the exposed moors and mountains of Scotland, Northern England and rural Wales. Quite often, it is the difference between life and death for hikers, climbers, cyclists and kayakers that use one: a solid roof over one’s head and a fire in the hearth at the end of a day in the wilds that allows outdoors-lovers to recover and recharge without the need to return to civilisation.
This feature explores just how essential bothies are to our truly enjoying the absolute middle of nowhere, based on some of those I have had the pleasure of visiting on my own hikes. And it looks at how important bothies are to our culture as well. For the volunteer organisations that maintain them are not just preserving bygone buildings of real historic value that would otherwise have crumbled into tumbledown rubble. They are preserving the last remaining vestige, in Britain or in Europe for that matter, of how hospitality used to work for many, many centuries, where travellers turning up un-announced at the end of a day’s journey could still expect, for free, shelter from the elements and a flame to warm themselves by.
This for the autumn issue of Walk, the magazine of the Ramblers Association: