Watch LFTOers try bothying for the first time

This is popular LFTOer Terrybnd's latest work.

A few weeks before Christmas he asked forumites 'who wants to go bothying'?

He then selected four volunteers who'd never tried it before. If it's something you'd like to have a go at yourself maybe this will give you an idea of what the experience is really like.

Scroll down to see the video...

 

Click here to read the first time bothyers' accounts of the experience

Read each first-time bothyer's account of what the experience was like for them:

Chris Chris_sk2 AKA is from Stockport, Manchester

‘Hello Chris its Terry from Trail forum.’

‘Hi mate what’s up?’

‘I’m doing a bothy video, I need someone who can talk, everyone on the Trail forum suggested you……….’

 

As thus it was that I found myself shivering in the cold air at half past eight on a frosty late December Monday morning with three other members of the Trail forum outside the Keswick Public Information office. Large rucksacks lay on the pavement bulging with enough kit to house an army overnight and gave clear indication of our intentions; we looked the genuine article amongst the tourists trapesing around us in fashion wear and waterproof jackets that would never see a windy hillside. But each to their own.

The air steamed with our breath as we chatted whilst we awaited for the final member of the party to arrive, present were myself, Terry Abraham, and the two Mick’s, one from Newcastle the other from the Wirral. Jono was late, and couldn’t be reached by phone. We cursed youth under our breath and made our introductions, discussed plans and agreed reluctantly that Terry was in charge.

Jono finally arrived and announced he needed to purchase some food before we left, cue more muttering and comments! We set off from Keswick and drove along slippery iced roads up the Honister Pass until we reached the car-park at Honister Slate Mine, home of the famous Honister Green slate, over 400 million years old, and we all parked in the shadow of Honister Crag. The temperature was below freezing as the car park was out of the sun and the wind was icy cold, fingers like knives creeping into gaps in clothing and under jackets. We shouldered packs and battened down the hatches in warm hats and gloves against the chill.

Parking tickets affixed to windscreens we had to do our first piece to camera. I had to introduce the purpose of our trip whilst maintaining an air of mystery, not revealing our intended destination merely that we were going to find and spend the night in a remote bothy in the North West of the Lake District. Terry was in charge of filming and was happy after three attempts whilst we shivered inside our expensive technical clothing.

Terry happy we headed off away from the Mine and followed a frozen path above and behind the mine heading for the slate workings above Honister, still in use today. The sun was shining in a clear sky and we soon warmed up as we toiled up the path with our packs on our backs.

Halfway up the frozen path Terry stopped and began his filming again, I had to speak away from camera and narrate to the prospective viewer our intentions and progress. Bloody cold summed it up nicely! Again being the experienced professional Terry wanted three takes and then changed angle before filming us walking away up the hill towards the Little Round How in the gap between Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks.

We dropped down to into Dubs Quarry and Dubs Hut Bothy, adopted and cared for by the Galloping Horse Mountaineering Club of Workington, immaculate and clean but lacking a fire place, and in summer it must be as busy as any YHA! ‘Please see Honister Mine for bookings’ said the sign on the door. I popped in but reception was shut and Terry wanted to do some more filming. He had us walking in and out of the bothy, a revolving door would have been a nice.

We were joined at this point by several other members of the Trail forum who had climbed Fleetwith Pike from Buttermere and as a group we made our way from Dubs Quarry along a sheep track under Green Crag to where our destination and that night’s accommodation came into view, Warnscale Head Bothy, a slate built shelter which blended perfectly into the hillside and was nicely secluded. Looked after by the MBA it has had a new roof recently and is well cared for.

We entered the bothy to find a smoky compact stone shelter with raised sleeping platforms on three sides with piles of foam matting and a fireplace well stocked with wood and kindling. We set our packs down and after some jocular banter waved off our friends who wandered off down the path alongside Warnscale Beck towards Warnscale Bottom Valley and Gatesgarthdale Valley. Shouted pleasantries echoed down the valley to wish them safely on their way.

We checked and filled in the bothy book and decided a short walk up Green Crag to Haystacks and Innominate Tarn to pay our respects to the late AW was in order and from the summit we had a fantastic view of Buttermere and the valley as the late afternoon air cooled down and gave indication of the cold night ahead.

We returned to the bothy, set out sleeping mats and began to boil water to make up evening meals and brews. A fire was set in the hearth and soon burning away merrily. It was at this point I discovered someone’s water bladder had been leaking onto my sleeping mat and bag. The bag was duly hung before the fire to dry.

I had chicken curry; Widnes Mick had chicken tikka and Geordie Mick lamb curry. Jono topped it off with a chilli con carne. I felt obliged to point out two facts, namely we were in a small enclosed stone shelter and secondly we were feet way from a living flame. The evening had the potential for a major gas explosion!

Darkness closed in, the fire crackled away in the hearth chasing away the worst of the evening chill and we passed around hipflasks and swapped stories and experiences. There was much laughter and banter, and the conversation flowed seamlessly, only broken by coughing fits as the wind blew the wood smoke back into the bothy at regular intervals. Throughout Terry carried on filming capturing the atmosphere and the ambience of a night spent in the hills away from home comforts and the noisy crowds.

And this is the essence of it, I had never met either of the two Micks’ and we were chatting like old friends sharing the convivial atmosphere and a love of the outdoors of which this bothying trip was a part.

We went outside the bothy and marvelled at the stars wheeling and twinkling overhead in the cloudless night sky, and the lights far in the valley below gave the whole place a magical air.

It was finally time for lights out and sleeping bags were unrolled, we marvelled at the new Alpkit bags lofting themselves promising a good night's sleep. My Vango three season bag however was not sufficient, it was as flat as two blankets and I spent the night fully dressed with hat and gloves and two pairs of socks on, with my sleeping bag inside a Gortex bivvy bag just to keep warm enough to sleep. I spared a thought for Terry who had elected to pitch his tent and spend the night outside the bothy under the night sky. I could hear him cursing and hammering pegs into solid unyielding ground as the chill wind blew. I had another sip of whiskey in my warm bothy and hoped he secured his tent.

The night passed quietly and coldly at minus seven degrees, with only the occasional quiet snore and cough to disturb our slumbers. The loud sound of a sawmill cutting through thick redwood tree trunks nearby was not in any way attributable to Geordie Mick who in any case blamed me. I don’t snore of course.

No one had required a toilet break during the night, but as the ground was frozen solid anyone attempting to do anything in the darkness on an uneven mountainside at minus seven degrees was only going to end in the shabbiest state!

We woke to a clear crisp morning with the frost thick on the ground.

Breakfasted on hot chocolate muesli and coffee, and packed with our rubbish bagged up and stowed we headed for Fleetwith Pike and from the top took in the views and airy mountains around us. There were others on the summit enjoying the views even at that early hour, and we enjoyed the mutual appreciation of the crags around us.

Finally we descended back to the car park and after a very average hot chocolate at the Mine café and a short queue to use the toilet facilities we said our goodbyes and headed home, Terry planning his editing and how the video would look. I was impressed at how unobtrusive Terry had been throughout, present with his camera but not in a way that the conversation was stilted. What you see and hear is the real deal. That said there will be a few sections of chat left on the cutting room floor to prevent litigation!

To sum up a fantastic adventure, great companionship and conversation, a shared love of the outdoors and all things nature, and all captured on video by Terry to share with you the reader. Hopefully this video will inspire any of you who have never stayed in a bothy to try it. It beats watching the telly!

And for those who enjoy the outdoors you will know that time spent in the hills fills the soul and the heart as well as good meal fills the stomach. A night in a bothy after a days walking is the dessert course.

 

 

Jonno Roche AKA Hikerpunk is a student at Staffordshire University but is orginally from the North-East

I love the Lake District, and am always looking to explore it more, and the thought of adding to my knowledge of the area by finding a hidden bothy was really appealing, plus the chance to climb a few mountains that i hadn’t done.

I was quite happy to meet up with other forum members, as I’ve never met anyone off the forum who i haven’t got on with yet, so i knew I'd be in good like minded company, and it's always good to share and compare experiences etc with others who share your interest.

I had stopped in a couple of bothy’s before, and visited a few but hadn’t stopped in one for a while, so the chance to find a new one was too good to resist.

I was surprised as to how close to main routes to and from popular local mountains the bothy was, and at how well camouflaged it was, it really seemed to blend into its surroundings really well.

The weather for the trip was about as near perfect as we could have hoped for, blue sky, sunshine, cold but clear, perfect hill walking conditions.  It certainly helped make the trip so memorable, and helped contribute to one of my best trips to the mountains of 2008.

The bothy was in some respects better than I expected, the sleeping platform in particular with the old foam mats on was well thought out, and the pair of battery operated lights that had been installed on the beams were a good touch.

It's a different experience, halfway between a bunkhouse and wild camping in my opinion. You get the shelter and warmth of a building like a bunkhouse, especially once you get the fire going, whilst getting the remoteness and sense of isolation and peace that you get when wild camping.

The location was partially surprising, as it was so close to very well walked paths, but it was also extremely well hidden. The view from the location was fantastic, one of my favourite views in the Lakes.

I was very comfortable, i had a new Alpkit Skye High 600 down sleeping bag and a airic sleeping mat to use, plus i also had an Alpkit Filo down jacket to act as an extra layer whilst sitting round in the bothy. I took a couple of dehydrated meals to eat, along with a few bits and pieces of snack food such as home made chocolate brownies.

The camaraderie was great, we all got on really well, it helped that i knew one of the other forumites as well as the film maker, but it wouldn’t have mattered as it was great to be in a small group of likeminded individuals sharing and swapping stories and experiences. We all seemed to get on pretty well from the off, so it was a really good trip.

I would definitely bothy again, as it can be a bit more sociable than wild camping, as you can go by yourself and you might meet others, or you can go with a couple of mates and be a bit more sociable than if you’re wild camping, especially if the weather is slightly adverse.

I felt that the bothy was well looked after, and loved by many, and this was evidenced by looking in the bothy book, and at what tokens previous visitors had left ie partially used gas cylinders, lighters, packs of tea lights etc.

The fim maker was really cool and relaxed with his subjects, he never got stressed or anything, and didn’t get annoyed when we were taking the piss out of him. Overall, easy to work with, and I'd work with him again.

 

 

Michael Carlyle AKA Showerswalk is from Merseyside

I put my name (Showerswalk) forward on the lfto forum for a bothy trip that Terrybnd was organising to film walkers that had never had the experience of staying in a bothy before.

Carrying everything that would be needed for a wildcamp we met up on a freezing cold December morning between Christmas and New Year. I had not met any of the forumers face to face but recognised Terry from his videos. Once introductions had taken place and waited for one latecomer we set off to Honister slate mine with amazing views over Derwent water to park up and start the walk in to the bothy.

After distributing tea light candles and packing some kindling to start a fire we set off! After a couple of takes for Terry to get his shots in we met up with some other lfto forumers that had been in the lakes for the past few days, it was nice to put some faces to usernames. 

When we got to the bothy I was impressed by how cosy the bothy felt and it was well stocked with firewood and firelighters. There was enough room for 4 to sleep on the stone benches that someone had left foam mats on, and perhaps 2 more could sleep on the floor. We had a look around and dumped our rucksacks to have a bimble up Haystacks before dark. We where rewarded with fantastic views of Haystacks and a frozen solid Innominate tarn with clear views of Buttermere one side and Scafell massive on the other. After taking some more video and Mike H taking some good shots with his camera we retired down to some hot food and to get a fire going after a cold days walking.

Once the fire was started (The wood was damp so the dry kindling came in handy!) we got some water from a nearby waterfall and got dinner underway. I had brought some Reiter dehydrated meals with me to keep the pack weight down, never had them before tasted like salty reconstituted baby sick!!!!! I won’t be coming back for seconds! After dinner we talked into the night about shared interests and sick squaddie humour and shared a few drinks to keep the cold out.

With an early start we settled down for the night and I had the chance to test out my Christmas pressy that I’d bought myself, an Alpkit sky high 1000 which was lovely and warm and loads of room.

Chris_sk2 was a bit cold in the night so I lent him my Gore-Tex bivvy bag to bump up his insulation. (Note to MickH boy you can snore!!) After a warm yet fitful sleep we awoke to get breakfast and a cuppa on the go.

We were again rewarded with cold but clear weather and after packing up and removing our litter and leaving the bothy clean and tidy we walked over Fleetwith pike to awesome views of the lake and for Terry to take some more footage.

Would I do it again? Definitely, the bothy would be a Godsend in harsh weather. The company was great and it was excellent to meet up with some other likeminded people and would like to go on a forum meet in the future.

 

 

Mick Hall AKA MickH is from the North East

Having been a member of the LFTO forum for quite a while but having never met any of the other members I jumped at the opportunity to give the short bothying trip a bash. Something a bit different in between Christmas and the New Year festivities. I usually walk alone and have wild camped alone over the years and so it was with a mixture of excitement with a little trepidation that I set off early from home to travel to Keswick to meet up with four blokes of which I knew absolutely nothing.

We met on a beautifully clear cold winter morning and after a few introductions we were off on our way to Honister pass.  I had packed quite an bit of photography gear in my bag, in fact more than I have ever carried for a day's walking and soon realised how much a camera and a selection of lenses actually weighs. That said, reality was that the walk to get to the Bothy was not very far at all and with several stops to take video shots and photographs the journey was a pleasure.

I had seen images of the Bothy before but was very surprised at how it was almost camouflaged into the slate and stone of the hillside on which it stood. First impressions were that it was very compact and clean. We trustingly dumped our bags in the hut and enjoyed a relaxing stroll up onto Haystacks where we came across what seemed like bus loads of other walkers enjoying the wonderfully clear day.

With the knowledge that we only had the short walk back to the bothy we took our time and enjoyed the daylight left getting back with enough time to prepare for the night ahead of us. Icy cold water from a nearby stream was the coldest thing I think I have ever carried and my fingertips were tingling after having carried it for only a short while.

Sleeping mats and bags unrolled each of us staked our spot. Before long we had a fire glowing in the hearth and candles providing a soothing but very effective light as the sun vanished and the temperature plummeted. Soon the shelter took on the aroma of boil in the bag curry with a hint of wood smoke. We were treated to a fantastic display of stars in the freezing night sky which we all admired whilst consuming port, cognac, whiskey and mint Bailey’s of all things.

The shelter had been transformed into a warm welcoming haven by the fire and the candlelight a few long exposure images were captured to prove it.

Before too long the occasional yawn could be heard and soon the sound of sleeping bag zips ended conversations. I had what I call a good camping kip. Warm and comfortable if a little broken. By all accounts given in the morning everyone else had a similar rest accompanied by my loud though rhythmic warthog impression which my wife assures me is not a pleasure.

Breakfast done, the fireplace cleared and rubbish bagged, we were off to enjoy a short walk up Fleetwith Pike before descending back to our transport at Honister.

My first stay at a bothy was a positive experience in more ways than one. The accommodation was good and the company was great. Something I will without doubt do again.


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