Saturday, 21 November 2015

Book Review: Mountain Days and Bothy Nights

by Dave Brown and Ian Mitchell

the cover of the book
This book, first published in 1987, has been reprinted several times due to the great demand from those who remember or were part of the bothy culture which was prevalent in the Scottish hills during the 1950s and 1960s - and even into the 1970s.

It's a quietly humourous account of that section of early Scottish hillwalkers who were more interested in spending a couple of days, usually at the weekends, in bothies than actually climbing hills!

Tales of hitchhiking from the industrial towns and cities of Scotland to the west and central highlands, the Cairngorms and the even to the Isle of Skye will leave you in awe of the fortitude of these men who thought nothing of standing at the side of a lonely road, sometimes for hours, in all weathers, waiting for some kind motorist to give them a lift.

When they reached their destination their time was more likely to be spent drinking, singing and telling tales of varying dubiety around the bothy fire than actually climbing a hill or exploring new horizons.

Some of these men were real characters the like of which are no longer seen on the hills today. ''Fishgut Mac'', ''Desperate Dan'' and ''Stumpy'' populate the pages with humour, pathos and a sense of the social injustice of the time.

There was a real feeling of ''them and us'' - the people versus the landowners, many of whom did not want anyone intruding on ''their'' land and who didn't make it easy for anyone to visit Scotland's hills. Back then there wasn't the access to the countryside legislation we have today.

Mountain Days and Bothy Nights was written by two men who knew well these characters and their way of life. The stories, capers and escapades told in this book ring true even when they seem implausible. For a glimpse into the history of Scottish hillwalking and a bothy culture which no longer exists this book is a ''must read''.

It is available on Amazon but if you're lucky you might find a copy in a second-hand bookshop - that's where I found mine!


  1. Now that sounds like a book I would read! thanks for the review.

    1. It's a fascinating glimpse into a culture which is fast fading from most people's memory.

  2. This sounds like an interesting book.

    1. I doubt you will have read anything on the subject of 'bothy culture' so it likely be a complete revelation to you.

  3. That books sounds interested to read. You wrote a great review.

  4. Thank you. This book opens up a world not too many people know much about.