Cleaning a bothy requires some explanation. Many readers will be wondering if the title suggests Scottish people actually wash.  I could be considered an authoritative voice in this matter as I myself am Scottish.  I don’t wish to brag but I shower at least weekly and more often in hot weather.

For real though, Scottish people wash. Daily, often and with soap.

He “doth protest too much, methinks!”?

Back to the bothy. I guess if your going to clean it, then you better know if you even have one first.

Bothies are a remote building of just one or two rooms located deep in the Scottish mountains and were traditionally used by shepherds in the 18th century to shelter at night as they roamed the beautiful land guiding their flock.

Below is the stunning bothy at the foot of Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands (Buachaille Etive Mor)

Although their locations are not entirely mythical or secret they do require the intrepid new age shepherd, lets call them tourists, to acquire the bothy knowledge from secret handshakes wearing a spotted handkerchief in their top pocket whilst whistling the tune to Scotland the Brave.

The most magical aspect to these bothies are they are in some of the most spectacular and idyllic untouched areas of the Highlands and if the adventurous tourist hikes across thistle and midgy laden terrains they can stay for free where they can enjoy the mere basics of an unlit fireplace, a floor to sleep on and a roof to protect them from the incessant rain all without the need to know the handshake or the tune to Scotland the Brave. You might need the spotted handkerchief though, as there aren’t too many bothies with toilet facilities, I’m just saying.

Now you have an idea of what a bothy is and where you might find such a place let me now reveal the secret to cleaning the bothy.

Your miles from the nearest supermarket, you clearly didn’t bring your degreaser or furniture polish to clean with so how on earth are you going to clean the bothy? Well, as with all things bothy related, its pretty simple. Don’t make a mess that requires cleaning. There is little to no furniture so there goes the need to polish. There is no kitchen or en-suite bathrooms making any cleaning solution immediately redundant.

You should burn all the rubbish you can safely burn in the fire, which you will inevitably need due to the plummeting weather conditions in the height of summer and take home the stuff you can’t burn.

Don’t assume the next visitor will want your damp socks for an emergency spare pair and use your handkerchief to wipe down the toilet seat if you must but usually its just a spade to bury your business and then do so away from the building or camp area.

Unless you are incredibly over-prepared and find yourself at a bothy with too much stuff, then you probably arrived in a helicopter so suggest you return in same vehicle and let the next rambler make better use of the shelter.

Protecting these century old buildings is the work of the Mountain Bothies Association. These volunteers are the guardians who care for, maintain and promote their use to adventurous individuals who want to explore the great Scottish Highlands, connect with the ancient land and give respect to the great outdoors.

So what did we learn today?

1. A Scottish Bothy is bereft of comforts but will keep you dry and relatively warm although this is not guaranteed for both the dry and warm claim.
2. Cleaning a bothy requires little more than common sense and decency, a modicum of thought for others and wee a dram of self respect.
3. Evacuating your bowels in the wild Scottish Highlands requires the ability to use a spade approximately 100 yards from the nearest structure.

A wee quote from my friend on the Isle of Skye, Craig Campbell: “One of the most annoying things about any night in a bothy is arriving late, damp, cold and the only thing that kept you going those last few miles is thought of shelter and warmth from the fire, only to arrive and nobody left you firewood or even some kindling, that is a miserable start to any night.”