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Alone time: sneaky snuggles

“Just slow down and enjoy life,” he says. “London doesn’t let you do that. That’s why it’s good you’re here right now.”He continues to preach to the converted, before convincing me to sign up for National Trust membership there and then – the promise of access to NT bunkhouses and a free blanket proved too tempting to resist. 

The following day we hike around Emmerdale Lake, Buttermere and the quaint little town of Keswick. We end up in the hamlet of Watendlath, just south of Derwentwater, where we discover a perfect bothy next to the tarn to kip in after a day’s walking.

Home dry: a Lake District bothy

I think of bothies as essentially being stone tents. Just four walls and a roof, they occasionally offer basic facilities, are usually left unlocked and are available for anyone to use, free of charge or for a nominal fee.

Originally left for itinerant workers, nowadays they’re used mostly by walkers, cyclists and other travellers who might find themselves in need of shelter.

There’s a strict etiquette to using bothies, based on respect for your fellow travellers. You’re supposed to share if more travellers show up in the night (‘I got here first’ attitudes are definitely not appreciated) and as a gesture of goodwill, you should leave the place as you found it, spick and span – collecting some dry kindling to ease the burden of the next user is also expected. 

Fairweather friend: camping with canvas

This particular bothy is one of the fancier ones; a snug space with bunk beds (no bedding, but I never said this was the Hilton) that about six people could fit comfortably inside. As we hunker down, I think this back-to-basics mini-break has really been a gorgeous adventure – simple and perfect for anyone who fancies a bit of alone time with one of the prettiest places in the country.


Photos: Thinkstock, National Trust Images/ Joe Cornish; Nick Thorne; Helen Reynolds; Marc Bajoras.


The Lake District's great outdoors: Stay for free in a bothy shelter and wake up with stunning water views
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