Better late than never, they say but in this instance, late is a truly positive thing as the delay in me writing part two of the ‘Alternative bothy guide’ has provided an additional opportunity for your ‘bothy’ to fully ferment and mature. Hopefully, if you read, digested and acted upon the advice contained within part one of this guide, you should now be in a position to embark upon a night to remember. It’s time to unfurl that sleeping bag you bought of ebay for thirteen quid … you know, the good one that the seller said was the same as the SAS use and prepare to show the world exactly what adventure looks like.
|Bloody miles from anywhere, no road or nothing.|
At this stage you should have your accommodation fully prepared. The air should be heavy with the musky aroma found only in bothies and well frequented public toilets. Rodents both big and small should have set up home, ready to pounce on any chance crumb or stray piece of sushi and the dust now thick enough for the spiders to leave deep footprints.
The date of your bothy trip isn’t something you should leave to chance. The five day weather forecast can be a great asset here and I’d suggest studying it closely. Watch out for an occluded front forming over the country, if the planets align, it should provide the very best chance of heavy rain and strong winds. However, if you’re not that lucky and an occluded front looks unlikely, perhaps hold off until you see a front moving in from the north west. This air is likely to be part of the polar maritime air mass and should produce some wet / cold showery weather … perhaps not as wet as you might might hope for but enough that any article of clothing you hang up from the rusty nails above your head will drip its watery load directly onto your sleeping bag.
|This isn’t a bothy, it’s someones house and they just popped out for five minutes.|
With the big night approaching, it’s time to gather your equipment and stuff it into a rucksack – if you don’t have a rucksack, it doesn’t matter. I’d suggest using one of those big plastic Ikea bags instead. After all, if you were visiting a ‘real’ bothy you’d be trying to park the Audi as near to the door as possible but do bear in mind that parent with child parking spaces are generally limited. Aside from a sleeping bag, sleeping mat, brightly coloured down jacket and hat with bobble, you shouldn’t need too many other items apart from the ever important food and entertainment.
Uhm, bothy food. What you choose to eat will in part depend on how realistic you want your ‘bothy experience’ to be. If you’re really keen, then one of those dehydrated meal things will probably feature but my advice is, take some chocolate too because as much as the dehydrated meal things will add to the authentic experience – you may not actually want to eat it. In fairness, some do have a tendency to look like they’ve being produced from one or both ends of a baby. By all means, take one and place the sachet somewhere the camera can capture it but best to think of it as a prop rather than actual food … speaking of ‘props’ you’ll also need an enamel mug. Obviously you won’t be drinking from it but remember to place it within camera shot – every camera shot.
|This is the stark reality of bothies in Britain. Not pretty is it?|
What will you eat then? Well, you have two choices really – either take something cold that’s ready to eat and we all know that those little Asparagus pastries from the deli’ counter in Waitrose are to die for or you take something that needs heating up. Really the whole ‘cooking thing’ is somewhat of a faff with the result very rarely justifying the effort and expense of one of those Jetboil stoves. If you really do think that a hot meal is necessary then why not simply pop out to the Indian takeaway or just give them a call and have them deliver it?
During the winter months, time can pass slowly in the confines of a bothy, so alcohol and music are something of a prerequisite. Drink should always be in glass bottles because (a) they’re heavy (b) they can’t be burnt and (c) they give you somewhere to stick a candle – something which you should do on the pretence of ‘adding to the charm’ rather than just being too lazy to carry your rubbish out in the morning. Don’t skimp on the alcohol. If you’re one of those men that becomes aggressive or one of those women who becomes highly emotional after drinking – then pack extra because a bothy is the perfect environment to let those character flaws roam unbridled. Music? Yes music is important as it can set the mood for the entire evening. Firstly, all you need is your phone. Don’t bother with any additional speakers or such like as the overall idea is to produce a somewhat ‘tinny’ or muffled sound. You can enhance the effect by standing your phone inside aforementioned enamel mug for ‘tinny’ or keep it in your pocket if you prefer muffled. I believe it’s also worth compiling a ‘bothy playlist’ made up entirely of songs no one likes. They don’t have to be well known ‘hits’, in fact sometimes the more obscure the better. However, don’t go mad, you should find that six or seven songs played on a continuous loop is more than adequate in most cases.
|When you said you “wanted a new kitchen” you never expected this did you?|
With the scene now firmly set it’s time to gather your friends and finally embark on your bothy adventure. When you first open the door and walk inside don’t forget to expand those lungs to fully appreciate the efforts of your previous hard work. With your nostrils assaulted it’s time to unpack and unfurl. Bothies tend to function on the principle of ‘first up best dressed’ which means it’s important to try and be the first through the door so you can assess the situation but don’t be in too much of a hurry to stake your claim once inside. While the furthest corner may look snug and inviting, bothy law states that the spot furthest from the door should always be given to the person most likely to get up numerous times in the night for a piss – I know, I know but I didn’t make the rules up. If you know your friends well, then you’ll also know who the ‘snorers’ are, who the farters are and who the restless fidgets are but trying to avoid them is largely futile because the bothy holds no secrets and it’s generally ‘one up – all up’ so please remove any unfounded notions of actual sleep before you begin.
|No it hasn’t got electric. It’s got half a dozen bikepackers armed with 3000 lumens each.|
On occasion, it’s quite normal to come over particularly tired when in a bothy. However, this overwhelming tiredness will likely only effect you. The remainder of your group including increasingly aggressive men and emotional women will seem immune and in many cases will appear to still be full of life even at 2am when you finally pass out to a tinny recording of something by The Lighthouse Family.
Dawn never dawns bright in a bothy but it’s always accompanied by a chorus – sniffing, coughing and scratching. Getting up in a bothy is like a wave stirring from the depths of the ocean. At first bleary eyes poke out from beneath sleeping bags, a gentle swell with no real form. In time there’s more movement; zips are unzipped, arms appear from beneath the deep and the occasional head may bob up from the surface. Yet, seemingly out of nowhere the wave takes shape until finally it hits the shore with a crash as everyone realises that whatever toilet there may be is best visited before anyone else and a frantic scramble toward the door ensues … quite obviously it’s not something you’ll have to face given that you’re in a shed at the end of the garden but always worth thinking about.
So there you go. Your very own bothy adventure without the trouble of travelling to some windswept hillside in the back of beyond. If done correctly, you can now spend the day posting pictures on your social media accounts safe in the knowledge that anyone seeing them will genuinely believe that you really did spend the night in a bothy ;o)