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What is 'the Bothy Run'?

What's involved? What is a bothy? Where do we run? All your questions answered...

Today's blog is a focus on one of our most unusal and yet popular trail running adventures - the Bothy Run. Our next event is July 20th & 21st. Fresh air, remote trails, scenic lochs and nothing but mountains all around. Sound good? Then read on....


Now in its fourth year, ‘the Bothy Run’ is a two-day mini-break and an introduction to 'fast-packing' that takes runners via a number of rustic 'bothies' managed by the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA).


What is the route?

The Bothy Run involves two 16 mile days, linking relatively flat but wild and often rough trails through the mountains. We start around 08:30 on the Saturday morning from Fort William, rain or shine! Our guides will lead you from Glen Nevis, through a dramatic gorge and past the impressive Steall Waterfall to immerse ourselves in a rugged highland landscape, following the line of the wide Abhainn Rath river. Watch out for deer and birds of prey as we pass Meanach Bothy and the supposedly haunted ruin of Lubeilt. Follow the undulating riverbank and wade through tumbling burns descending from the hillside to find the stepping-stones of Staoineag Bothy. Before long we join the trail around Loch Treig, home to the fabled Hermit of Treig. Here we pick-up the route of the West Highland Line railway as it heads towards Corrour, Scotland's highest and most remote railway station. Tired or cold bodies are rejunevated by the cosy feel and excellent food at Corrour Station House Restaurant before a last 1.5km jog to the award-winning Loch Ossian ecohostel (accessible only by foot), nestled on the shore of Loch Ossian. In Victorian times guests were taken by horse-drawn carriage to Loch Ossian and then by steamer up the loch to the lodge on the far shore! Our group has sole occupancy of the hostel here, which is self-catering (so you can cook your own evening meal and breakfast).

Spend your evening surrounded by breathtaking wilderness and solitude (why not hire a £2 towel from the hostel if you fancy a dip!) Girls on Hills are ambassadors for Hostelling Scotland and have a special relationship with Corrour (our Co-Founder, Keri was even married here , on the shore of Loch Ossian in 2013!)


On the Sunday, our group will run back to civilsation via the wonderfully situated Chiarain bothy, on the banks of Loch Chiarain. Some wonderful, wild trail running brings us to the tussocky shore of the great Blackwater Reservoir, which is then traced to the huge dam at its West end. The Blackwater Dam is the longest in the Highlands and was constructed (by hand alone) as a hyrdoelectric scheme in the early 1900s, to power the aluminium smelting plant in Kinlochleven. A number of workers lost their lives constructing the dam and their marked graves can be seen today in a tiny graveyard on the other side of the river.


The final stretch of our trail follows the river down through peaceful woodland in Glen Leven towards Kinlochleven for the finish. Girls on Hills will liaise with you in advance of the weekend to arrange car-drops and shuttles, so you don't need to worry about transport logistics.

This fast-packing adventure is the perfect 'thru-run' experience, with a rewarding sense of journeying through Scotland’s wild spaces.


What is fast-packing?

'Fast-packing' is a combination of trail running and backpacking – effectively a multi-day trail running adventure. It's a fantastic way to cover big distances in quick time! The Bothy Run is more of an 'introduction to fastpacking' because it includes only one night out on the trail and doesn't require you to carry any tent or cooking apparatus (i.e. we are not wild-camping). You will still need to carry all your food and clothes for the weekend (though bedding is provided). Girls on Hills will provide a detailed kit list in advance and give advice on how to pack.


What is a bothy?

Bothies are simple stone dwellings which (always unlocked) provide shelter for anyone passing through these mountainous or remote areas. They are managed and maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA). On the Bothy Run we call by several of these refuges enroute to Loch Ossian ecohostel. We do not overnight in any bothies.

At the bothies, we will pop in so that our guides can share their tales of ‘Bothy nights’, and the history of these old stone buildings. We will also cover the role of the MBA and explain the 'Bothy Code', so that you’ll not only feel inspired but will understand what is required to plan your own responsible bothy adventure with friends. A donation from ticket sales is made each year to support the work of the MBA.


Why gin?

At the eco-hostel, we will spend the evening ‘cooking-up’ and enjoying a roaring fire - with a wee nip of infused gin (optional of course!)

The Gin Bothy is a Scottish, eco-aware, and award-winning gin distillery, founded by women. The company provides all our lucky runners with a wee nip of their gin (infused with highland botanicals), to enjoy in a bothy or by the fireside at Loch Ossian! Your guides will bring along other Gin Bothy products and all the mixers neccessary to complement the delicious flavours.


Gin Bothy founder and entrepreneur Kim Cameron says “the principle of respect – for mountain, river and farm – is ingrained in our work, and shines through in the products we’re proud to make. When I first launched Gin Bothy, it was about making the most of what the land had to offer.”


Girls on Hills have been working with the Gin Bothy for several years and we are delighted that they continue to support this popular event.


How 'good a runner' do I have to be?

Fear not, this weekend involves a lot of shuffling and walking! The group pace will be relaxed and sociable - it has to be when carrying a heavy bag! It is best-suited to folk who are happy to keep moving all day at a slow pace, rather than those interested in setting a fast time. Our emphasis is on the journey, the connection and the wild landscape, not pace. We usually have a very mixed ability group, with everybody being supportive of one-another and nobody gets left behind!


Want to know more?

We pride ourselves on being 'approachable and relatable' so please do get in touch with any questions you might have (email us on info@girlsonhills.com). You can also see reviews about Girls on Hills by taking a look at our TripAdvisor page, which has a 5-star rating.


"So enjoyable....it’s such a supportive, welcoming group and it’s been lovely to meet other likeminded women. All the guides have been very friendly and knowledgable and make you feel very safe while pushing your personal boundaries in beautiful locations. Would highly recommend!" - Bothy Run 2023


Our next Bothy Run is July 20th & 21st (starting from Fort William 08:30). The event finishes around 4pm on the Sunday:



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