Using a Bothy

The great attraction of using bothies is that there really aren’t any rules as such. However, we have developed a Bothy Code which contains some common sense, practical advice based on respect for the bothy itself, its users and the surrounding environment and which we ask all bothy users to observe.

Respect other users

What better than to leave work on a Friday evening and head out to a bothy with one or two mates for a quiet weekend? You’ve picked a fairly remote bothy and hope to have the place to yourselves. Approaching the bothy you see signs of occupation. You open the door, a character sitting by the fire says ‘Hi, there’s a brew on, where’s your mugs?’ Warm welcome, clean and tidy bothy; it’s going to be even better than you thought. Thankfully, we aren’t faced with the opposite scenario: bothy trashed and full of rubbish and/or folk in residence who think it’s a matter of ‘first comers have the bothy’. Our bothies are open to everyone whether members or not. Meeting new, like minded, folk can be a great experience and you never know when a warm welcome and the offer of a brew might help to recruit new members. When you leave, take a couple of minutes to tidy up and if possible, leave some fuel to welcome the next visitors.

Respect the bothy

Some folk can carry a load of tins into a bothy but can’t carry out the empties, some bury rubbish, which is harder than removing it. Do your bit for the environment and take all rubbish out. If you can manage to take out one or two bits that others have left, you’ll get an extra star. Leaving spare food in bothies is an issue on which there are diverse opinions. Leaving non-perishable items, such as unopened tins is OK in principal but some people see tins and think that it’s OK to leave less vermin proof items, thus encouraging furry friends to take up residence. When you leave the bothy ensure that the fire is out: bothies have been lost as a result of unattended fires. Make sure that all doors and windows are securely closed. Deer and sheep are adept at opening unsecured doors and closing them once inside. If you are unfortunate enough to find a four-legged bothy resident it may be very angry or smelly, or both.

Respect the surroundings

Few bothies have toilet facilities so it’s a case of ‘pick up the spade and walk’. Go at least a couple of hundred metres from the bothy, keep well away from water courses, and bury your deposit. Be considerate too when washing pots, socks etc by going downstream from the place where folk draw drinking water. Wash your stuff away from the burn and then pour the waste water on the ground where it cannot flow directly back to the water course.

Burn only timber that is clearly firewood and never cut live trees. Fences and adjacent buildings belong to someone and though they may look neglected they should never be plundered for fuel.

Respect our agreement with the estate

We maintain bothies by agreement with and courtesy of owners. In many cases, there are some restrictions on use. These are noted in the Bothy map section on this website. Most restrictions relate to the work of the estate such as deer stalking and lambing and to ignore them may put folks‘ livelihood at risk and result in the loss of the bothy. If in doubt contact the MBA or the estate people; they will be happy to advise you. We have a general understanding with the owners that bothies are used for short stays only. If you wish to stay more than a couple of nights, seek permission from the owner.

Respect the restrictions on numbers

There’s a tale about a couple of stalwarts who arrived at a bothy to do one or two odd jobs only to find the place occupied by a large boisterous group. The stalwarts announced that the roof was to be removed the next morning and the occupants packed and left within the hour. You should not endeavour to evict groups from bothies, but you could politely advise them that our policy is to discourage use by groups of 6 or more unless they have permission from the owner. Large groups preclude use by others and cause environmental problems. Please also note that planned overnight stays by commercial groups are not permitted.

So, there it is; nothing that you wouldn’t expect from visitors to your property so ‘Do as you would be done by’ and help to preserve the bothy network.

Bothies leaflet pdf


© Copyright Mountain Bothies Association, Edenbank House, 22 Crossgate, Cupar, Fife, KY15 5HW
Mountain Bothies Association is a charity registered in Scotland, no. SC008685 and a company limited by guarantee and registered in Scotland, no. SC191425