Bothy Experience - Over Phawhope - was no Bother

Date walked: 27/04/2024

Time taken: 3.5 hours

Distance: 11km

Ascent: 200m

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Welcome to Over Phawhope Bothy, my home for a night and a morning.

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Situated on the Southern Upland Way. I came down from the left (Ettrick Pen) the night before.

This walk was preceded by 'An Ettricks Compleation by Bothy'

My latest 3-day trip, comprising Cauldcleuch Head and the complete Ettrick Hills, finished with 'the great bothy experiment'. I had built myself up for this for some time, feeling that the most efficient way to get most of the Cairngorms done might be to use all its bothies, but deemed it very advisable to try one out somewhere else (and simpler) first. Over Phawhope was perfect for this, although I didn't know exactly what to expect until I got there. Arriving from Ettrick Pen the night before, tired and keen for shelter, warmth and food, it was immediately obvious this was a 5-star bothy as bothies go. It caters for the Southern Upland Way, but on this occasion it catered only for me: I had it to myself, of which there was evidently about a 50/50 chance of that happening at this time of year (April), I saw from the visitors book. I could spread myself out, take my time, get 'comfortable' (yes indeed, it even had sofas) and learn the ropes.

I had been worried about my ability to start a fire - even though humans have done it for millennia - but I needn't, as there was a sufficient supply of already-cut wood, not to mention coal, matches and firestarter blocks. Idiot-proof really. I did not try to figure out the stove, though, but contented myself with boiling up enough hot water (little kettle placed on top of the fireplace, which took some time) to make a pot noodle from my own supplies. If I hadn't had any, there was already one or two items on site, but it would not be advisable to rely on these. The fire gave off precious little heat, for the purposes of heating the place, and it would have been damned freezing in winter. It takes quite a few decent-sized logs to get a fire burning merrily for an adequate length of time, I discovered, and I soon ran out of these and would have needed to cut some more for myself. Luckily, I didn't need to, because it was bedtime anyway and I had enough stuff to wrap up in to sleep cosily. I did try to saw more chunks the next morning, to make a contribution, but found it no easy task, with a distinct danger of sawing into my thumb (I have memories of doing just that in school woodwork). I'd have managed eventually, but gave up on it, because I had to go; sorry. I cleaned out the ashtray and gathered up a load of tinder for the next visitor, which was the least I could do: I had slept really well (would not have done in winter without a much thicker sleeping bag), and thoroughly enjoyed my time there.

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Lighting and heating is provided.

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Here is my living room...

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...and here is the master bedroom...

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...and here is the small bedroom.

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Don't worry about the graffiti, but note the view from the front window.

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Well, we can't guarantee they're not, but...

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Mountain bothies are regularly maintained by the MBA.

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There is a choice of toilets (the other being the countryside, but not near the bothy and use a spade).

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In addition, Over Phawhope boasts a picnic area, open all year round.

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'For feats of frolic, strength and agility, he had no equal in his day.' Something to aspire to.

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Culture hits you when you least expect out there.

During my entire 3-day mission, I had come across a grand total of 4 walkers (3, really, and one runner). I met one guy going the other way on Herman Law at the start of yesterday, then nobody for the rest of the Ettricks. On the morning of my departure from the bothy, 3 folk came by as I pottered about outside. The first of these looked admirably like he was running the entire Southern Upland Way, chugging along with pack and poles, whilst a chap I had a chat with was on his way to do Loch Fell. He had local knowledge and suggested I was a bit lucky not to have encountered the 'friday night crowd' that can occasionally blight this bothy. That would certainly have spoiled my equilibrium. As it was, it was off over the pass of Bodesbeck Burn for me, to gain the Moffat-Selkirk road and up to Birkhill to my car (hoping it had not encountered any friday night crowd in my absence). I managed to mess up this picturesque walk, which should have been simplicity itself, but hey things had gone so perfectly to this point it had to happen. My map cut off exactly at the point where Bodesbeck farm meets the road, so not quite showing which way the access track ran, but I thought surely that won't matter. I intuitively chose right, which was wrong, and it lead only out into fields then along the river on the wrong side, with no bridge for ages and increasingly awkward ground. I finally managed to do a Bear Grylls and cross on some fallen trees, but the whole business would have been easier if I'd simply ploughed across and accepted a foot-soaking earlier. No matter; a great trip!

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I depart, with fondness. Potburn, just along the track, where I turn off for the pass to the A708.

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A blissfull scenic walk over the pass, a view of White Coomb.

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A view of Under Saddle Yoke.

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The farm at Bodesbeck, where the A708 was supposed to be joined.

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Moffat Water (I should have been on the other side of it, where the A708 is).

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Note the ripple where my foot had gone in. It had all gone too well, have to make some small mistake.

Epilogue: Hawick.

Well done, young men (English though I may be).

The Borders will always be Scottish.

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Comments: 2

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Ascent: 1700m
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Ascent: 600m
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The English Alpinist

User avatar
Location: Lancashire England.
Occupation: Food delivery driver.
Interests: Mountaineering, music, movies, writing.
Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: Loch Lomond Arms
Mountain: Ben More on Mull.
Place: Strathmore, Sutherland.
Gear: DMM cirque mountain axe.
Camera: Samsung smartphone.
Ideal day out: A blue-skied midwinter day in the high mountains.
Ambition: Compleation of the Munros

Munros: 56
Tops: 28
Corbetts: 11
Fionas: 27
Donalds: 28+16
Wainwrights: 214
Hewitts: 136
Sub 2000: 2

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