TALMINE, NORTHERN SCOTLAND
“Where’re ya off to today?” Our Airbnb host Alma asked as we headed out the door to do some exploring.
“There’s a bothy I saw in this book we thought we’d walk out to.” And I proceeded to show her a snapshot of the page from “The Scottish Bothy Bible” that I’d taken before I’d left the states (lighter than lugging the entire book across the world). It was of Achnanclach bothy, a short walk near Loch Loyal just off the main road A836 to Talmine from Inverness.
“Oh, that’s an alright one for sure, but I think you’d enjoy Arnaboll more.” She and her husband Chris proceeded to stretch out a map of the area near Ben Hope, and she pointed out the tiny word “Arnaboll” on the shores of Loch Hope.
She gave us some homemade cake, landmarks to follow, and off we went on a wonderfully damp spring afternoon.
The drive west on A838 from Talmine goes through remote windswept highlands down into the idyllic village of Hope.
We kept driving to the west side of Loch Hope and found the parking place that Alma had described. From there, we climbed over a gate (something completely fine in Scotland as part of their country code), and walked along a well maintained track south along the shore (wellies suggested).
Where the track ended, the path twisted through the woods until we saw the approach to the bothy, sitting like a beacon right on the water looking out to Ben Hope. It was all very dramatic, something the Scottish Highlands never fail at.
Turns out this wee bothy isn’t as well known because it’s not maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association. It’s maintained by the local primary school, so it’s not as widely shown online and in books.
It was empty when we arrived, but the bothy journal had a new entry from just the night before. It’s well equipped and well traveled as bothies go, as the photos show.
Behind the bothy up the hill is a stream. The day we were there, it was like something out of a folklore tale: a skull of a sheep, feathers, and bones spread amongst small white flowers and a moss-covered rock that looked like an alter stone. That was enough for our imaginations to run amok, so we did an impromptu short film, which maybe someday I’ll actually edit together.