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For every official, managed or sanctioned bothy in the UK, there’s probably at least three that aren’t. They’re bothies in the true sense of the word but not in the sense that you’ll find them and their locations conveniently listed on the internet … if you want to find these places, then I’m afraid you’re going to have to put the work in.

You wouldn’t find it without looking.


The unofficial bothy isn’t a venue, it’s not a destination or somewhere you’d plan a ride to. It’s not a resource to be used frivolously, using it requires care, moderation and respect but on the very wettest and blackest of nights it will provide a sanctuary, that, if used properly will make its peeling walls and cold stone floor feel like the inside of a palace.


Sometimes all you need is a roof and walls.

They come in many guises, some have long been retired and are simply awaiting their inevitable final demise. Others are still in occasional or seasonal use and receive a little attention as and when it’s required and some are no doubt destined for a make-over and the beginning of a whole new chapter. Conditions are generally much more spartan than you’ll find inside the walls of their official brethren but remember you’re merely a shadow within the place, you’re not a visitor … these places don’t cater for visitors.


Providing shelter since 1832.


The majority of these ‘refuges’ are to be found in the wilder parts of the country, the forgotten leftovers of agricultural and industrial endeavor. Places where natures presence is at its strongest, where the balance of financial cost and reward makes holiday homes and weekend retreats unviable … simply, the places ‘people’ don’t go.


Sadly, some are a little too far gone.

I’d suggest you start you search with a humble 1:25K OS map, a 1:50K won’t suffice, they don’t contain the required detail and the tell-tale signs and clues. Look for the names of farms, look for quarries, search for dead-end tracks away from busy rights of way and tarmac roads. Old sheep enclosures high in the hills, the black outline of a building in the valley bottom beside a stream or two properties sharing a common name, will all help lead the way.



You could move straight in.


You can expect many dead-ends and much disappointment along the way, 90% of the time all you’ll discover is a pile of stone, the remains of a gable or more likely … nothing at all. Don’t give up, keep researching, looking and searching and when you do ‘find’ one, it will feel like you’ve been given something very special … they are out there.

The moon is easier to reach!

Remember, these places are owned by someone and you don’t have that persons permission to be there. Be respectful, leave everything exactly as you found it, leave nothing and take nothing and even if there’s a fireplace don’t light a fire …  and if the door’s locked, that’s it, just walk away.

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