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Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Postby DopeyLoser » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:37 pm

Here's something that has puzzled me for a while. Why do people pick bothies as campsites? Yes I know the bothy could be full so they opt to pitch a tent, but that's not it. People seem to intend only to camp, but they feel that just outside a bothy is the best spot.

Example, a couple of years ago I overnighted at Corrour bothy. I think there must have been at least half a dozen tents scattered around in the vicinity. It wasn't that the bothy was full - there were only four people in there. Maybe it was the toilet that they wanted to use? But with the whole of the Cairngorms to pick, why would you feel you had to join a crowd camping outside a bothy?

Another example, spent a night at Shenavall last month. Quite a few inside but definitely not full. Again, people camping just outside. There's the whole Fisherfield Forest to camp in, pick any spot you like, but no, you've got to "wild" camp with all the others outside a bothy.

Over to you folks. Why do people congregate around bothies in order to camp?
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Re: Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Postby Guinessman » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:19 pm

It wasnt Oct on a Sat night outside Corrour by any chance. I was there Oct 2016,8 of us inside and 15 double crewed tents outside. Peolpe might be of the opinion that they go to stay in the bothy ,find it full and think well just camp here. Ive done it as the Fords of Avon and Sourlies and numerous others
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Re: Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Postby Fiona Reid » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:43 pm

Both times we headed to Shenevall to do hills from that location we took a tent just in case the bothy was full but as it was quiet so stayed in the bothy.

Being close to the bothy means even if it's full you can still hide in there eg to cook if the midge are diabolical.

I guess the toilet at Corrour is a bit of a novelty so can understand why folks may camp there rather than further away. Corrour is also in various overseas "guidebooks" so gets a lot of European folks heading there.

I suppose there's also a saftey aspect, e.g if it's a dodgy forecast or you're unsure your tent is ok then being close to a shelter means you've somewhere to escape if needed. Sure you might struggle to get space to lie down but I can understand why folks might opt to stay close by.
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Re: Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Postby Jon and Jen » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:50 pm

Jen and I are the opposite, preferably staying away from camping around bothies. Most routes tend to pass them so I can see the attraction but we walk for the feeling of isolation so try to avoid. Usually means bogs, peat hags and Heather to find alternative sites though.
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Re: Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Postby Old Stag » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:58 pm

Safer from mice and nutters in your tent,
More privacy.
Can get up very early if needs be but not annoy anyone.
Can retain the social aspect of bothies.
I snore and talk in my sleep, "Must kill again" seemingly being a favourite.
If midgies are too bad to cook in the apron of your tent or outside can cook inside bothy.
Insurance against forecast bad weather.
Usually a good source of springwater where a bothy has been built.
There's a ton of reasons.
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Re: Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Postby thatweebirdie » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:31 pm

Maybe some people turning up when there is already a group in the bothy makes them feel as though they might be intruding?

I'm very shy and self-conscious, and if I turned up at a bothy and it was already being used and those there seemed to know each other, and I had my tent, I would - as others have said - maybe come in to cook if necessary and have a wee chat, but I'd hate to feel as though I was gatecrashing someone else's experience and would withdraw to the tent, grateful to be in close proximity to other people if I needed help. But maybe that's me being too introverted.
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Re: Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Postby Robinho08 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:08 am

On the face of it, I suppose camping outside a bothy lacks imagination. But some people don't like sleeping in bothies, but like the social element, so they'll socialise in the evening then retire to their tent for peace and quiet.

Some like to cook/prepare food in the bothy or perhaps they feel a bit safer knowing they're close to a bothy too.
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Re: Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Postby Sgurr » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:23 am

Husband doesn't like to inflict snoring on others, but we do like to cook standing at a surface.
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Re: Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Postby davekeiller » Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:20 pm

Camping near a bothy usually has the advantage that there's likely to be a decent water source and somewhere dry and relatively midge-free to cook and to sit in the evening and enjoy others' company.
Sleeping in a tent on soft grass is, in my view, more comfortable than sleeping on a hard surface inside the bothy. A tent also affords a bit more privacy than a bothy.
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Re: Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Postby TheFox » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:23 pm

DopeyLoser wrote:Over to you folks. Why do people congregate around bothies in order to camp?

Off the top of my mind:

a) Company, people to have a chat with. Sit inside by a cozy fire in the evening, then move inside your own tent for privacy.

b) Protection from the wind if you camp just next to the wall.

c) Chance to break it up and move inside if the weather gets too bad (proper storm).

d) Toilet, as you said.
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Re: Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Postby Phil the Hill » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:38 pm

I'd agree with all the above reasons.

We biked in to Loch Callater this year to set up a camp for a walk over Tolmount and Tom Buidhe. The bothy was as far as the track was bikeable and there was a nice grassy pitch site just beyond it - plus there was a water source and a composting toilet. It was a bit busy the first night, but we had it all to ourselves the following night. We just used the bothy to cook and eat.

It was a similar situation in Glen Ey for our next campsite - everyone congregated around Altanour as the obvious decent camping spot at the end of the main track. The only differences were that there was no bothy and it was the first night we had to ourselves and the second that was busy.
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Re: Congregating around bothies to camp outside

Postby DopeyLoser » Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:07 pm

Thanks for the thoughts folks. Very interesting to me that there are indeed some rational reasons for going to a bothy to camp!

A few comments:

Re water (it's unlikely to be "springawater" as in cool clean water gushing from a spring). Yes there will likely be water near a bothy but ... this is Scotland. Is there a shortage of burns? It's not the Sahara desert where oases are in short supply. Also, I would not place special faith in the water near a bothy. Keep in mind the reason a toilet was added at Corrour was the vast number of jobbies that people were depositing all around it, making for potential contamination of water supply. And a sheep or deer can expire in a burn 50m above a bothy same as anywhere else.

Re social aspect: some of the responses suggest bothy is good to enjoy others' company, then be able to retire to own tent to sleep. Fair enough, as long as we all remember that just because we want to socialise doesn't mean others do. Would a camper be happy if a bothy-dweller was to unzip the door of their tent and climb inside for a wee chat? I'm joking, of course, or am I. Interesting though: a bothy is seen as semi-public space whereas a tent is seen as private space. Not saying it should be otherwise, just sayin...

I realised that way back in days of yore I too had camped a couple of times outside bothies. Once when I joined some scouts doing the Lairig Ghru, and Corrour happened to be the destination for one night. Didn't even look in the bothy (in fact the concept of sleeping in a bothy was then unknown to me) but just camped along with all the others nearby. There was no reason to be at Corrour except that was the spot on the map that was picked as the night's destination.

Another couple of times I think we camped near a bothy during DoE or equivalent 'expeditions'. Maybe there was more reason to pick a bothy as a camping destination then, since our supervisor would stay at the bothy and 'observe' while we camped.

Right. I've got that question out of my system now. Thanks again.
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