A huge summer storm was rolling in. The forecast was even wetter than the past two days had been, and extremely wild.
I was on day seven of a haven’t-quite-decided how many days bikepacking trip, clearing my head after months working in ICU, and had meandered 400 miles around the glorious oﬀ road tracks of the west of Scotland so far. With the sky glowering black behind me and the gale chasing me along Loch Shiel, I dashed to Glenﬁnnan bothy to hole up and hide out the storm. My tent’s good, but it’s
probably not that good.
The unusually early stop of 3pm was welcome after a week of long days and endless climbs. My Camino had been fully laden with kit including ten days’ food when I left Glasgow, and I tore through three bars of chocolate like a wild beast as I got a good ﬁre going. Cosy by the gentle embers, kit draped everywhere, I was asleep by 9pm. The rain outside hadn’t relented for 48 hours now.
A famously heavy sleeper, I was wakened at 2am by a banging noise. Stock still in my sleeping bag, I strained every sense. The ear-splitting scraping was
the tree that grows above the bothy, bent over by the wind and dragging along the roof. The screaming fury of a Highland storm battered the bothy on all sides, and all at once I felt very, very small. I was acutely aware that this bothy, and the kindness of the bothy culture that maintains it, was probably saving
my life. The wind boomed through the surrounding hills, the rain poured, and I willed the roof to stay on with all my might. I was glad I’d brought the Camino inside.
Waking the next morning, the storm had blown itself out, and taken my ﬁre with it. Enjoying the civilisation, I took a slow start and savoured my proper coﬀee. Leaving the bothy, I tucked a ﬁve pound note into the donations box and latched the door tenderly. The deep sense of awe and gratitude had not
left me. I descended lazily along the ﬂooded path, and noticed quite a crowd of tourists below the Glenﬁnnan Viaduct. As I clicked the shutter to take a photo of my own, the Jacobite steam train rolled perfectly into frame. Perhaps it was lucky rain I had on that trip.