Last Friday me and my mate mqhiker took a pre-Christmas trip up to Spithope, a small bothy in Redesdale Forest. The plan was to take in a few miles of night hiking and to spend the night in the shelter with some festive food and a couple of beers to celebrate Michael’s new job.
We parked up at the recycling centre at Byrness at about 11pm and headed east to find the path north towards the hut. It took us about 50 minutes to get there, although in our tired state we did overshoot the turning on the bridleway and ended up coming round the the back of the bothy. This was annoying at the time and with hindsight, could have been avoided by stopping and going back to our last known location instead of ploughing on through tall, wet grass until we hit something. I wore my Buffalo Mountain Shirt even though there was some light drizzle in the air – as people have reported in the past it kept me warm even when it was damp, if anything I was a bit hot when walking in it.
Once we were at the bothy we got some candles lit, spent far too long lighting a fire (before smoking the place out by not opening the flue) and finally got some dinner on. Soup to start followed by some turkey and stuffing buns with a bit of gravy – spot on. By this time it was about 1.30am so we decided to turn in. The temperature was hovering just above freezing and the stove was making very little difference.
I slept in my new Rab PS Lite long johns, merino base layer top, fleece jumper, hat and a pair of fetching, orange wooly socks. My ‘sleep system’ consisted of a North Face Gold Kazoo bag, Exped air pillow and a Multimat Compact 25 mat with a CCF roll mat underneath. The night passed comfortably (with a couple of bouts of snoring from Michael). I only woke up properly when it started getting light but it did take me a while to arise from my slumber since we only had 6 or so hours kip.
A bacon butty breakfast is becoming fairly standard on our overnighters and this trip was no different.
Spithope is a well equipped bothy with tables, chairs, worktops, bed platform and a wood burning stove. There is a good selection of tools on site too to help keep the place clean. However there was nowhere near as much wood cut as in a picture I spotted on flickr the other week. This made lighting the stove a little difficult as we had to baton a few pieces of wet wood with my new Mora Allround knife and Michael whipped up some feather sticks with my EKA Swede 88 folder. Next time I visit I’ll probably bring a saw with me and spend a bit of time harvesting some firewood to get the stocks back up.
We left at around 10am and made our way back down to the car discussing DWR, European pilot training and pacing techniques on the way. Another good night in a bothy and probably the last night out this year. Next year should herald a new era of wild camping for me – one man, one pole.