Once the sole reserve of old bearded men in bobble hats, bothies have now become a ‘must do’ attraction for a younger, more fashion savvy element of society – true, many still sport beards and hats with bobbles but hair is a fairly recent addition to their faces and the hats cost forty quid and weren’t knitted by their partially sighted gran.
What were once lonely refuges for those travelling the wild places are now destinations in there own right. The grumpy and cynical may voice concern that bothies could become spoilt by overuse or feel disgruntled that the candles are all now sat atop prosecco rather than whisky bottles but times change. No matter what your view, it’s likely that visitor numbers will remain high while the public’s imagination continues to be fed by those who venture outside in search of likes and shares rather than freedom and solitude … Let us make no mistake here, social media has really helped fan the flames, it keeps desire high and the sales of Alpkit head-torches rocketing.
Perhaps the one saving grace for the original bobble hat brigade is the location of most bothies; they’re generally out in the hills and mountains, far removed from the urban environment and most don’t have any family with child parking spaces near the door. However, that’s just one side of the story and while the remote locations might help keep numbers in check, they certainly aren’t convenient for those people who would love to take their own picture next to a roaring bothy fire but for one reason or another aren’t able to. Is it fair that these people are destined to become social (media) outcasts simply because they’re unwilling to ride, walk or put in any degree of tangible effort to visit one? Personally, I think it’s a shame – after all, many will have already bought the forementioned woolly hat, Rab jacket and bothy book and there’s even a handful who may have considered joining the MBA but probably haven’t just got round to it yet … busy with work ‘an stuff, you know.
|Bothies, they’re getting busy. Form an orderly line and wait your turn.|
Luckily, I’ve given the whole thing some thought and have devised a programme that if conducted in its entirety, can produce the full bothy experience without the trouble and inconvenience of leaving home. There are a few items you’ll need and some time should be afforded to preparation but once everything’s in place you’ll be all set to add another tick to that ever lengthening bucket list you keep writing.
The first and most obvious thing you’ll require is a structure. A shed is ideal, it needn’t be big but the older and more dilapidated the better – leaking roofs and draughty doors are a real bonus. If you haven’t got a shed available then you could improvise with a greenhouse, a carport or maybe even a garage, although if it’s attached to the house some of the effect will be lost I’m afraid. With your structure secured, it’s time to take a look inside. Strimmers, mowers, etc can be removed and stored elsewhere but don’t be too hasty to completely empty everything out. Old bottles, paint tins and rusty, long forgotten implements can all be left in situ. Something else to avoid is sweeping or cleaning generally – webs (especially those full of dead flies), dust, old leafs and rodent droppings should all be left as they are. If your particular shed’s lacking rodent poo, can I suggest that you scatter chocolate buttons on the floor and leave the door open for a few days; it’s also worth stuffing an old jumper in a corner too. If that doesn’t result in a mouse infestation within a week just use more buttons and who knows, you might even be lucky enough to get a rat. Next, find yourself a plastic bag and each evening deposit your dirty underwear into it and make sure you seal it up again each night. A week or so before your ‘bothy trip’ simply take the bag into the shed and scatter a few items in each corner.
|Don’t worry about cleaning – there’s always later.|
If your ‘bothy’ features windows, can I suggest that you take a few minutes to smear something over the glass in order to block out 80% of any available light. Now is also a good time to check that none of the windows will actually open further than a quarter of an inch or so … that measurement isn’t critical but you need to limit any potential ventilation opportunities as much as possible … now close the door, walk away and let the magic happen.
TIP: Although not absolutely necessary but the icing on the cake for those really keen; try adding a few piss-stained tissues, broken bottles or the odd crushed can around the outside of your bothy … they’ll really add to the impact upon your arrival.
|The sights, sounds and smells of a bothy right there.|
While your shed’s simmering, you can use the time productively and collect your very own bothy soundtrack. Please use your imagination but you really must include some snoring, coughing, sniffing and farting. Obviously you’ll need to record the sounds and loop them so you’ve got a minimum of six or seven hours of playback. Don’t make the mistake of leaving out silences as it’s those that give the noises their full impact. As an example, you could put in a sniff then a cough, wait four minutes before another cough and a fart. As I say, be creative and aim for a random collection with no defined pattern. Those amongst you with a taste for the unusual could also include the sounds of muffled shagging and nonsensical sentences shouted loudly at twenty minute intervals … some loud banging always goes down well too.
That should pretty much conclude the preparation phase. Take your time, use what you have to hand and remember that effort applied now will be repaid ten-fold later on. I’ll leave you with it and return next week with part two, ‘The Big Day’. Part 2