where do boaters go for their holidays?
When you live aboard your boat life can seem like one long holiday, especially if you are retired. So where do we go for our holidays?
It’s pretty much essential for you to enjoy the outdoor life if you live aboard a narrowboat (or wide-beam) so it’s likely that your holiday will be one where you spend your time outdoors, take your dog with you and you’re able to enjoy the freedom of choosing where you go.
Many boaters are also avid walkers and can’t wait to check out the footpath map in the next place they moor up.
However, most places where canals and navigable rivers run offer fairly flat terrain for walking and this leaves a little bit of discontent for those who yearn for higher ground.
If like me, you feel the pull of mountains and crave the peace of untamed and lonely places you might enjoy a bothy holiday.
A bothy is a basic shelter in a wild, remote location, mostly in the mountains or on the coast but always a long way from roads and civilisation. They are often abandoned stone buildings, usually with a fireplace and some kind of sleeping platform; think camping but in a small, stone, wind and watertight structure.
Most bothies are in Scotland but there are also some in Wales and the north of England. You can visit them at any time of year and you don’t have to pay to stay. There’s every chance that you'll meet and share the space with other lovers of wild and lonely places too. You can't drive to bothies but some can be reached by canoe.
For those who love walking, a bothy can add another dimension to an adventure, and young people may even join you if there’s the promise of an exciting overnight stay. I am a bothy enthusiast with an appetite for walking in the hills, views from high ridges and the freedom of wild isolation.
Bothies provide a completely diverse experience to life aboard a narrowboat and it could be something other boaters would also enjoy. I belong to The Mountain Bothies Association which looks after about 100 bothies (although there are lots of others) and I'm part of the maintenance team for Camban Bothy at the head of Glen Affric in Highland Scotland. It's a beautiful site surrounded by some of the biggest mountains in Scotland and a day's walk from the nearest road; some map and compass skills are therefore essential.
The MBA website is a good place to start if you're interested in finding out more, or drop me a message.