21:15 Wednesday night
Thank god I brought whisky. The Lluest Cwm Bach bothy and I are just getting acquainted with one another, me learning her creaks and groans as the fire warms her timbers. I’m sat by the fire that was prepared for me supping a whisky hot choc out of my tin cup. My heart rate has not settled at all since I got here and I’m hoping this process of writing shit down will help calm my shit bag nerves.
I arrived to this little bothy over the ‘top’, forcing the little pink Crux over the hillocky and boggy terrain in search of her. For the hour leading up to this point riding along the beautiful mountain road I had been in quite a conversation with myself about the evening. Rhayader at that point was a simple 5 mile roll down from where I was on the road and the temptation was so strong. It was nearly tea time, after all. With no clear way across the top or the bottom of the hill to reach the bothy, the light fading (yet again!) my spirits were running a wee bit low making everything feel a wee bit tough.
My decision to crack on was mainly based on honouring the kindness of strangers, and well admittedly I wanted to find this beautiful little bothy. Over our instant coffees at the Claerddu bothy this morning, the lads had kindly offered to walk in fuel for me and other treats they promised (including essential treats, like water). The thought of me not going if they had actually gone was too much, and ultimately that’s what sealed the deal even though I had no idea whether they had come. Based on the trust and kindness of strangers I pushed on, questioning my madness on several occasions particularly when choosing to route down through the ferns (man they hurt!!) and then the immediate swing in emotions to being beside myself with joy finding the stash left just for me!
In the chest next to the fire was a bag of logs, coal, firelighters and two lighters along with a bag of sweets and a bottle of whisky with a note and a whole lot of love. I am so glad I did not roll down that tarmaced road straight back to civilisation. The effort the lads must have gone to had to be respected by me coming, and here I am sat by the fire they prepared for me. Truly wonderful.
So, back to the reality of being a chick alone in a little stone house in the middle of Wales with no phone signal, no electricity and no running water. What the hell was I thinking. Besides the delights I’ve found of making new friends, riding over some beautiful terrain, finding these little bothies and concocting the BBH Whisky Hot Choc, I must admit that I’m exhausted with how nervous I have been (am). Even the thought of popping outside to use the loo before bed is making me think twice. I wish I could say the opposite, I wish I was super brave and cool and totally down with this. I’m just not entirely sure I am. Hopefully I’ll feel different in the morning.
On yesterday’s approach to my first bothy night I was shitting it, I won’t lie. This is not the same as staying in alpine huts in France. This is essentially staying in stone huts on farmland in the middle of Wales, some of them better cared for than others. I admit I got very lucky on my first bothy night. It would have been pretty shit to have turned up to that bothy which was fine but pretty wrecked with graffiti everywhere from the DOE kids and slugs cleaning the kitchen worktops. I arrived to a roaring fire, laughter and two dogs running around.
Could I have asked for some advice about staying in bothies? Yes, most certainly. So why the hell didn’t I. Not sure. Could I have done way more research? For certain, Should I have listened to the visitor centre dudes? Probably not, they knew not an awful lot. The one thing I’m taking away from this is to ask advice as much as possible without losing sight of the inner adventure demon and doing things for yourself and just seeing how that works out now and again.
The remaining question is should I be doing this by myself, either for safety or for sanity. I don’t have the answer for that yet, and well as I write this, maybe I don’t want to think about the safety aspect too much because I’m a bit stuck for the next couple of hours.
I will admit, after 24 hours of doing this, I would like some company. Someone to share the creaks of the house with. Someone to pass the plastic bottle of whisky to. This is a lovely little bothy, previously a family home, and I don’t think it was ever built for only one person to enjoy, in which case I believe I’ve done it an injustice. That will need to be put right at some point in the future.
Before crawling into my sleeping bag I was brave and went outside. The air was alive from the ringing in my ears and nothing else. No wind, no noise, no stars even. It was just me and the little bothy ready for bed. I’ve pushed a bench up to the door which has satisfied some part of me. I’ve also just taken another glug of whisky. Time to read and wait for the mouse.
Side notes: Must think logically. The rattle on the roof is likely an owl. The engines are from the road on the other side of the reservoir (I checked). The fire is making all sorts of pops and bangs and hisses and it’s not anything untoward. That loud scratching sound? I’m going sheep. Let’s say it’s a sheep.