A night in a mountain bothy

A night in a mountain bothy.

What is a Bothy? A bothy is a basic shelter, usually left unlocked and available for anyone to use free of charge.  It was also a term for basic accommodation, usually for gardeners or other workers on an estate.  Spending a night in a mountain bothy is a must.

Bothies are to be found in remote mountainous areas of Scotland, Northern England, Northern Ireland and Wales. They are particularly common in the Scottish Highlands, but related buildings can be found around the world (for example, in the Nordic countries there are wilderness huts).

The Mountain Bothy Association

The Mountain Bothy Association maintain most of the bothies available they are free to use with only a few house keeping rules to follow.  When going to a bothy, it is important to assume that there will be no facilities.

No tap, no sink, no beds, no lights, and, even if there is a fireplace, perhaps nothing to burn. Bothies may have a simple sleeping platform, but if busy you might find that the only place to sleep is on a stone floor which as long as you have the correct gear you can have a good night in a mountain bothy.

Early morning view of Buttermere

You will need to make your own arrangement for water and should be aware that there may not be a suitable supply near the bothy. If there is no fire then on a cold night you may have trouble staying warm.

The great majority of nights in Britain are on the cool side and remember that most bothies are up in the hills.

Few bothies have toilet facilities apart from a spade and the advice is that you should walk at least a couple of hundred metres from the bothy and 60metres from the water supply before excavations and evacuations commence. If all this sounds rather rough, you are beginning to get the picture. Your comforts have to be carried in.

Whilst hiking in the Lake District I chose to tick of another micro adventure by spending a night in a mountain bothy.  I had researched where the nearest ones where and lucky for me there are two: Dubs Hut & Warnscale Hut within half and hour of each other,

The Route

I chose to park at the Honister Slate Mine and walk up from there it costs £10.00 to leave the care there overnight.  Dubs hut is the first and easiest to get, very popular, sleeps 6, multi fuel stove (although fuel will need to be carried in).

Looking up towards Dubs hut

Half an hour from Dubs Hut it Warnscale Hut hidden from view it isn’t the easiest to find and by judging by comments in visitors book many people have had to make more than one attempt to find it.

It was built in 1750 for slate miners and was left in ruin until 1985 when the MBA completely renovated it to be used as a bothy.  As mentioned it is small and able to sleep 4 with a multi fuel stove to keep warm as previous bothy fuel will need to be carried in.

I chose a real bad weather day to make my ascent I had put the coordinates into my ViewRanger App and made my way up to Dubs Hut for a night in a mountain bothy, the wind and rain was driving and as I entered Dubs Hut I realised it was time for a new waterproof layer I was soaked to the skin.



a night in a mountain bothy
Dubs Hut

Dubs Hut

On entering the hut there was 4 lads brewing up who offered me hot water, they had overnighted at Warnscale hut and recommended that I ahead there.

Few people came and went after eating soggy sandwiches and I found the power to put on my WET! wet gear and looked at the map to find where I would be heading.  I needed to go down the valley a little way and cross a river.

Viewranger Route

As I reached the brow of a hill I could see to my left a scree of slate on the mountain side and looking at ViewRanger I could see I was near and then due to the bad visibility I noticed a metal flue as the whole side of the Bothy was camouflaged into the scree of slate.

a night in a mountain bothy
Warnscale Hut

Entering the bothy through a very small door it was gloomy with only 2 small windows, 2L shape benches across two walls.

There was a multi fuel stove and a cubby hole with various items left by previous dwellers (including a half tube of vaseline god knows what had gone on in here that night).

I setup my bed and wished I had fuel although it wasn’t cold it would have been nice.  I hung up my wet clothes and got some water on the boil for some soup.

Window view

If you are planning a night in a mountain bothy bring your tent in case the bothy is full although this night I did not want to be in a tent.

The night

The Dog and I settled down for our night in a mountain bothy and I had just sent an OK message on my SPOT GPS devices as no phone signal.

The dogs ears pricked up and she started barking as 3 sodden lads entered the bothy who where also planning a night in a mountain bothy.

My thoughts of a peaceful night where gone but when one said “we’ve brought coal”  I thought brilliant.a night in a mountain bothy

They sorted themselves out and got there food on the go which was duck stew which they shared with me and a very happy dog!

They had to leave early due to commitments so it was about 22:30 for lights out.


Now I am a cold weather person and not that keen on boiling hot rooms, it was so hot in here this night I was in my boxers on top of my sleeping bag.

The Morning

05:00 the lads where up and packing away and got out the door by 06:00 I had a brew and got a couple of hours kip as I was driving back to Suffolk as the weather had come in.

I packed up, had a tidy and prepared myself for the onslaught of gales and torrential rain outside.

It took me under an hour to reach the car and with a quick change of clothes I was heading home with another micro adventure ticked off.

Please have a look at www.mounytainbothies.org.uk for further details

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.