Go off-grid: Scotland's best bothies
Take your spring getaway to the next level at one of Scotland’s stunning bothies in a selection chosen by Geoff Allan...
No electricity, no running water, no bed and no people. If this sounds like hell to you, chances are a holiday to one of Scotland’s bothies isn’t for you. However, if you fantasise about a real break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and a return to simpler times, a few days in a hut in the wilderness could be exactly what you need (not to mention completely free). Scotland’s premier bothy expert Geoff Allan has hiked, biked and slept the night in each and every Scottish bothy. Here, he chooses his ultimate escapes…
Best for: spectacular scenery
Suileag bothy lies in the shadow of the iconic sandstone pillar of Suilven, on the northern perimeter of Assynt, a majestic land of isolated island peaks, blanket bog and ribbon lochs, awarded UNESCO Geopark status in 2006. The shelter, which is around an hour’s walk from Glencanisp Lodge in Lochinver, is owned by the sustainability-focused Assynt foundation, which has pledged to safeguard the natural and cultural heritage of this pristine wilderness for future generations.
Best for: history
Leacraithnaich bothy (main image) stands above a small loch on the remote Morven peninsula, 30 miles south west of Fort William. This windswept moorland has a long history of settlement, dating back to an iron age township found on the site during an archaeological dig in the 1960s. The most distinctive feature is the remains of a medieval crannog; a man-made island that housed a round, thatched dwelling, marked today by a solitary tree close to the far shallows of the loch.
Best for: coastal views
The stunning 180-degree view from the bay window at The Lookout certainly has the wow factor. This former coastguard watch station, perched precariously close to the cliff edge above Rubha Hunish, the most northerly tip of Skye, offers a panorama encompassing the entire Western Isles, and, on a clear day, the profile of the mainland all the way to Cape Wrath. The bothy is also a fantastic spot for whale and dolphin watching.
Best for: wildlife
Burnmouth Cottage on Hoy, in the Orkney Archipelago, is a fairytale drystone cottage with a heather thatch roof built right above the shore of Rackwick Bay, three miles south of the famous sea stack, Old Man of Hoy. A haven for wildlife, this island of towering cliffs and rolling peat moor hosts a variety of nesting birds during spring and early summer, including puffins, fulmars and great skuas, which are not afraid to dive at speed towards anyone who approaches too close to their territories.
Best for: solitude
Concealed in a small clearing within the extensive Eskdalemuir Forest, between Hawick and the English border, Greensykes is an old shepherd's cottage seemingly lost in time. The bothy is a great place to escape the relentless pace of the modern world for a while, much like its near neighbour the Samye Ling Tibetan monastery located just over the hill.
BEFORE YOU GO...
Visit www.mountainbothies.org.uk to get helpful tips on your trip and read the guide to bothy etiquette.
The Scottish Bothy Bible by Geoff Allan is available now from Wild Things Publishing (£16.99). Readers can receive a 25 per cent discount and free P&P from www.wildthingspublishing.com with code ion at checkout.
Compiled by Dean Newton