One of the areas we aim to explore in 2017 is bikepacking. The idea of putting a few things in a bag and heading off down the road to spend a night or three under the stars is something that appeals greatly.

However, when there are no stars to see, the wind is howling and conditions turn biblical sometimes a brick & mortar shelter is the order of the day.


As people started to retreat from their remote farms to look for work in the cities, many of the buildings they vacated were left where they stood.

Some of these buildings became shelters, or bothies and are looked after by volunteers. Bothies are as basic as they come –you can’t expect much more than a water and wind-proof shelter. Some may have a fireplace, most will have a flat surface to sleep on, be that a sleeping platform or the floor. Don’t expect running water or electricity though…

You can’t book a bothy either, you just turn up and hope for the best. It could be that it is already occupied and you have to hunker down on the floor, but you will at least have some company.

You’ll need to take everything you would normally take for a night’s camping, apart from the tent –unless it happens to be really, really busy there that night. Think of it as an optional upgrade from your bivy bag.

Here in Wales…

There are currently eight bothies here in Wales, with Grwyne Fawr being the nearest, just south of the Gospel Pass. There is also Arenig Fawr, Dulyn, Moel Prysgau, Nant Rhys, Nant Syddion, Penrhos Isaf, Lluest Cwm Bach scattered around mid Wales as you head north. The Mountain Bothies Association has a map that you may want to check out.

The lion’s share of bothies can be found in Scotland, with a few scattered on the English side of the border too. Over in England it doesn’t look like you’ll find one south of Leeds…

The Bothy Code

There is a code of conduct associated with bothies, but it boils down to being respectful and not being an idiot.

  • Respect Other Users
  • Respect the Bothy
  • Respect the Surroundings
  • Respect Agreement with the Estate
  • Respect the Restriction On Numbers

You don’t have to be a member of the Mountain Bothies Association to use a bothy, but if you want to support the maintenance of them you can pay £25 per year to become a member.

Over to you…

Have you ever used a bothy? Is that something that appeals to you, or do you plan to seek one out this year? Let us know in the comments.

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