New Year Bothy Therapy

New Year Bothy Therapy

Easter Earshaig car park to Brattleburn bothy is 6.7km, walking along part of the Southern Upland Way, according to my calculations using OS maps. After all the snow and rain over the last week, I was wondering how many of those kms would be on boggy paths and fields.

Dave and I had decided at the start of December that a new year bothy trip would be the perfect way to start 2023. A chance to prepare us for going back to work and the ensuing busyness of 2023.

Travelling north looked too snowy, so south it was. And Brattleburn came out on top. Neither of us had been there before and it wasn’t an overly long or tricky ramble.

I left Perthshire and headed to West Lothian to pick up Dave. Wet would be a good descriptor of the route. Each step resulted in a bubble of water surrounding my boot. Some thin, some much thicker and threatening to submerge my foot. There was no rain today. But the sky was a battle between grey cloud and blue atmosphere and this was much better than the forecast had predicted.

Our path split from the SUW for the second half of our route onto a forest road, where the going was much easier. The end of the road was welcome and signalled we were only a few hundred metres from the bothy.

From the end of forest road we followed an excavator track down to a confluence of streams, including the eponymous Brattle Burn and we hopped over the water to the bothy with all the skill and agility of a sumo wrestler.

The inside of the bothy is split into three areas. Downstairs we found two living areas, both with stoves, and upstairs we found a large sleeping area. No-one else was around so we pushed our bags into the right hand room, which was still warm from its new years eve’s visitors, and had a cuppa.

While Dave sorted his stuff, I had an explore of the depression that the bothy sits in. Like elsewhere around the country, lots of the plantation trees near the bothy are on their sides or snapped like twigs.

There are a couple of old ruins over the burn from the bothy. Animal shelters? Cottages? Hard to say and the internet hasn’t helped me work this mystery out since I got home.

By half past four it was dark. And later on after the clouds cleared, the roof of the world was full of stars, demonstrating fully the area’s dark sky credentials. I could see Orion standing on his head but thank goodness for apps to help you identify constellations. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen so many stars at night as I did above Brattleburn.

With socks steaming by the fire, another gentleman called Gary arrived. He lived in Moffat and had come up for the night. We enjoyed the bothy tv together and talked into the night, before he went off to the other room to watch the Green Bay Packers NFL game.

We slept. As the sun got up, so did Dave and I.

It had been a cold night but you would never have known it inside the bothy. The ground that yesterday had covered us in mud, today gave us a solid footing.

The walk out was cold but sunny and it was one of those crisp days that I love when outside. As we were walking into the sun, the sparkle of sunlight on frost was everywhere and made for a pretty stunning landscape.

The last 24 hours had given me adventure, walking, the outdoors and quality time with friends and new people alike. If I could create a formula to work out the perfect therapy session, all of these things would have to be included as they best allow me to press that reset button.

I need more therapy. 😊

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