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Bothy beauty

Bothy beauty

In the run up to an Adventurous Ink release, we like to tease our online community with hints about whats about to land on their doorstep. February's issue was the brilliant Scottish Bothy Bible, which prompted us to share a selection of huts and bothies on Instagram. This led regular #weekendings correspondent Duncan Mccall to get in touch and tell us about his Father's vintage bothy bible. Long story short, Dunc subscribed up and got his own Bothy Bible, and was straight off on an adventure off the back of it.


My original inspiration for visiting bothies came from my Father. As a young man he spent his free time exploring the mountains of Scotland and camping out in bothies. He would regale me with old tales of intrepid adventures, which is the primary reason that I now spend most of my free time in the outdoors!

He recently gave me an old book entitled “A Survey of Shelters in Remote Mountain Areas of the Scottish Highlands”. I had also nabbed a copy of “The Scottish Bothy Bible” from the awesome Tim at Gather. Armed with both of these resources I’m primed and ready for some epic adventures.

So to celebrate an exciting new chapter of my life, specifically a new job as a Laser Systems Engineer, I went off on a two day solo trip to Taigh Thormoid Dubh: “Black Norman’s House”, a Mountain Bothy Association (MBA) bothy on the Isle of Raasay.

I set off bright and early last Tuesday morning and took a four and a half hour drive to Sconser on the Isle of Skye to catch the ferry across to Raasay. The weather was being typically Scottish and I saw all four seasons within the space of an hour. I find changeable conditions, the best and most exciting for shooting pictures, and couldn’t help but stop off at a few spots on the drive up the A82 and A87. I saw clouds whistling over the mountains of Glencoe, waves thundering up and down Loch Alsh and light rays emanating from the cloudy sky on Skye. The day was off to a cracking start!


On the ferry I had a chat with a Raasay local about all things Scotland and in particular the centralisation of our population over the last couple of centuries. Taigh Thormoid Dubh was an old homestead in a crofting community on the north of the island which endured well into the twentieth century. On the walk in to the bothy from Arnish I passed a number of other ruined croft houses and shielings.

Walking here was akin to walking back through Scottish history and gave me a glimpse into an almost all forgotten way of life. As I continue to travel around Scotland I am continually amazed, astonished and proud in equal measures to call this country my home. My hope is that through my photography I can share this wonderful place with all of you folks out there and hopefully inspire you to check it out for yourselves! 


Arriving at the bothy I got to work building myself a fire and cracked on with a tasty dinner of a freeze dried chicken korma and some cinnamon buns. Fine dining!

Here’s a list of my bothy packing essentials:

  • 10kg of coal and two fire logs. Bothies can be cold places so if they have a fireplace I would definitely recommend carrying in fuel!
  • 90 tealight candles. They can also be very dark so candles help keep it nice and bright when the sun goes down.
  • Food. I took various freeze dried meals, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate and oranges.
  • Drybag to put food in and hang in the bothy. We don’t want any pesky mice getting at our scran!
  • Three litres of water. You can normally rely on being able to fetch safe drinking water from a nearby stream so an empty plastic bottle comes in handy.
  • A stove and gas to cook with.
  • One billy can to eat from.
  • Matches.
  • Warm clothing.
  • Waterproof clothing.
  • Sleeping bag.
  • Insulated sleeping mat.

To finish off, I want to try and explain the allure of the bothy experience and why it is so special to me. I absolutely adore experiencing the vast empty places of the world. The peace and quiet, isolation and beautiful landscapes are fantastic for both body and mind.
I recently went through a tough time in my life where I felt very low. I got through this with the help of the outdoors and would thoroughly recommend getting out and about for anyone feeling a bit down. Being able to use a shelter in an amazing location at no cost to you is extraordinary and I can’t recommend it enough!

For those of you unaware of the Mountain Bothy Association (MBA) and their work I’ll give you a quick rundown. The MBA is a charity founded in 1965 which exists solely to maintain remote shelters for the benefit of walkers and others who make use of the shelter which they provide. Using a bothy is completely free, maintenance is conducted by volunteers in “work party’s – something I really like the sound of - and all funds are raised from membership subscriptions and donations.

Awesome, thanks Dunc. You can keep up with his ongoing adventures on Instagram.

If you want regular doses of outdoor inspiration delivered to your door, subscribe to Adventurous Ink.

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