A bothy night at Lurg Mhor

Route: Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich & Lurg Mhor

Munros: Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich, Lurg Mhor

Date walked: 06/05/2017

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 38km

Ascent: 1530m

I started to feel that it was ridiculous that after 265 Munros I still had not managed to sleep in a bothy. I had passed a few in my time and was always fascinated by the empty houses in the middle of nowhere. Fascination did not stem from the fact that they were there, or the remoteness of them, but more the history of the families who had lived in them.
I have read countless reports of bothy lovers, of nights in front of a fire with a whisky in hand and a group of people. But there was always the part of late arrivals who woke everyone up, too many strangers in one room and my personal pet hate of loud snoring . For me it had been clear that if I ever would sleep in a bothy it would have to be in solitude.

With another sunny weekend I had made plans to climb the 2 remaining Munros at the western edge of Loch Monar. I had arrived at Shiel Bridge campsite the night before and the place could only be described as a hill walkers refugee camp. :lol: I have never ever seen the wee campsite so busy and had been glade when I was on my way to the hills.

I arrived just before 9am at the walkers car park at Attendale gardens and was surprised to find it mobbed. :? There goes my chance to sleep in the bothy I thought, as based on the amount of cars parked, I expected a group of twenty occupying it that night. :roll:

The start of the walk
Walking towards the gardens in the most glorious morning I could have ever wished for and I did not see a single soul. Passing trees covered in young light green leaves and carpets of bluebells it was a stunning start of a walk. Once I was on the main track it was a bit of a come down, as the large hydro scene left an ugly scar of a road in its place. I followed the steep road which climbed higher and higher and marveled at the views around me. This was much nicer than the walk in from Craig had been. By the time I reached the highest part of the road the two Munros came into view and also some massive construction vehicles.

Passing a pretty bridge

Looking back towards Loch Carron

The ugly road, with some lovely Munros ahead

The ugly construction

Its the path towards Loch an Laoigh (new path which isn't on the map)

Continuing down the path big dust clouds shot up in the air from all the activity at the construction area and I felt anything but remote. :thumbdown:
Walking past the site I was rewarded when the lodge and bothy came into view. The walk in had taken me 2.35h. I stopped when I reached the path down to the bothy. Two bicycles were leaning against the wall and the door was open.
Bendronaig Lodge and Bothy

I stepped into the bright interior and was standing in a large room . To my front a large fireplace was boarded off, but in front of it was a large pile of fire wood. Two saws were handing from the wall and an axe rested next to a wooden block. To the right was a little alcove with a large old fashioned Belfast sink. How marvelous I thought and I stepped closer to find a bucket with water, washing up liquid, a washing up bowl, a block of knives and lots of other bits and bobs. Well equipped I thought! Opening another door I stood in front of a toilet with an amazing old fashioned toilet seat. The first time I had ever even thought about writing a toilet seat, :lol: but it was such a great one, rounded and chunky and certainly carved from a solid block of wood. Closing the door I found 3 more rooms, all with their own fire places and wooden floors and rather well kept.

The room with the wood burning stove

The main room with the kitchen


With my inspection finished I moved into the garden, found a flat surface and set up tent. Good knows how many people would stay here tonight and at least I would have had the choice of garden space I thought. Once I had repacked my bag it was blissfully light. Sitting in the sunshine next to my tent I had a lengthy lunch I enjoyed the sunshine.

With my tent set up

Bothy, tent and path

Getting up a good half an hour later I started my walk towards Loch Calavie. When the road came to a junction I turned right and started laughing when I spotted a pile of about 18 mountain bikes. Moving on the path climbed higher and finally the sense of remoteness which I had been lacking during the past 14 filled the countryside around me. With the lovely loch on the horizon, I had nearly forgotten all the construction and was in awe. It was lovely! Stopping for some photos I saw some walkers coming down the hill and looked up at Luig Mhor. There wasn't an obvious path, but it had just the perfect amount of gradient.

Myself at lochan Calavie

The gentle walk up to the right hand side of the burn

On the way up

At the bealach between Lurg Mhor and Bidein a Choire Sheasgaich

The climb was indeed great. Half way up I sat down on a moss covered rock and just looked at the countryside...what a perfect day it was! In due time I reached the top of Lurg Mhor and met another hill walker who was sitting at the cairn. We chatted for a while and once he had left, I enjoyed the views and some food and looked across towards the Munros I had climbed the previous weekend.

View towards Bidein a Choire Sheasgaich and the Cuillins

Down Lurg Mhor

Bidein a Choire Sheasgaich

Sgurr Choinnich, Shurr a Chaorachain and Maoile Lunndaidh across the other side

Another one of Bidein a Choire Sheasgaich

Towards Loch Monar

The summit cairn

Myself posing at the summit

The road traveled

On the way up Cheesecake (Bidein a Choire Sheasgaich)

I returned the same way down to the bealach and started climbing up towards ‘Cheesecake’. The nickname of the mountain always makes me laugh and once I reached the top I greeted the walker I previously talk to and he introduced himself as Simon.
Chatting away we discussed plans for the return. Should we head back down to the bealach and return the way we came from, or head over the shoulder. We settled for the shoulder and decided to walk together.

Lurg Mhor

Views from the top

Views towards Sgurr Choinnich, Shurr a Chaorachain and Maoile Lunndaidh

Panorama of an amazing area


Cheesy grin on Cheesecake

With Lurg Mhor behind me

On the way down

Moving along it was harder than I had expected and Simon had some near falls down the wet slope. When we reached the path again, we both decided that the drop down to the bealach would have been far more pleasant.
I arrived at the bothy, shortly followed by Simon on his bicycle. I was greeted by new arrival Will and Simons friend who had been waiting patiently for the past 4 hours. :shock: Grabbing some chairs we all sat outside, drinking tea and sharing stories. It was nearly 8pm when the 2 decided to leave and I was left in the company of Will. Age 70 he was on his final countdown of 8 Munros before completion and having battled through major operations a few years prior, he was back to full health and determent to complete them. Hats off to him!

From the bothy watching a bird

No one else appeared that evening much to my amazement and when Will announced that he would still prefer to camp outside, my dream to have a bothy to myself just had come true. :D With 4 rooms to choose from I settled for one of the smallest, yet coziest looking ones. Looking out of the window, it had lovely views across the moor which had turned pink with the setting sun.
Once it got too cold to sit outside we moved into the room with the wood burning stove. I left Will to light the fire, while I went for a wander and came across a bottle of Turpentine. Will that do I asked him? It sure should he replied and I poured a large amount of turpentine onto the dry embers. We watched the flame inching forward and with a whoosh we had a large fire going in a split second. Ohhhh perfect I proclaimed. 8) :thumbup:

Sitting and watching the fire going, we felt that we were getting high on the strong smell of burning turpentine which filled the room. Will joked that if any other hill walkers would enter the bothy now, he or she would think that 2 meth addicts were staying, based on the smoke and smell of turpentine which seemed to fill every single room of the bothy. Haha. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Our fire

My room

Once Will had retired to his tent, I gathered a few candles and tea lights and placed them on the fire place and floor of ‘my’ room. In the warm glow of the candles I crawled into my sleeping bag and closed my eyes. Listening to the darkness, I could hear squeaks and cracks. Sounds that made the house feel alive. I blew out the candles and darkness surrounded me. My mind drifted to the families who had lived here a long time ago. How had life been for them, how had they looked like? With thoughts about the past I slowly drifted into sleep.

I woke at 7:30 am during the next morning and looked around me. Blue skies could be seen outside and getting up and dressed I said hello to Will who sat outside and enjoyed a cup of tea. Once he was off I looked around and decided to do a clean, as I had nothing else planned apart from the long walk back. Once I was happy to leave the bothy in a better stage than I had found it I packed my bags.

My gear

My room at daylight

Stepping outside and walking up the path towards the road I looked back to the first bothy I had slept in. I felt strangely attached to it and sad that I had to say good bye. Turning around I walked on, happy that a dream had finally come true.

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User avatar
Location: North Ayrshire
Occupation: Training Coordinator
Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: The one which serves beer
Mountain: Buachaille Etive Mor
Place: Sutherland
Gear: my walking boots
Member: none
Camera: Fuji Finepix HS10
Ideal day out: Finding new routes up mountains, which involves a good scramble
Ambition: A climb over 6000m

Munros: 265
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