Cross the UK Guide to Callater Stable Bothy

After our first bothy experience in November I required very little convincing about trying out our next one in Scotland.  As we were on our way up to do some trail running in preparation for the OMM Lite it certainly seemed like an opportune moment to hit up a bothy too!  As we were running from Braemar in the Cairngorms we wanted to find somewhere local to the area to stay.  Having scoured the Mountain Bothy Association website we found Callater Stable Bothy.

Loch Callater Lodge has been a shooting lodge on the Invercauld Estate for hundreds of years and the Bothy is the old stable block hence Callater Stable Bothy.  There are a number of routes in to access the bothy but we decided upon a route taking us from the car park to the south of Sen Spittal Bridge up to Carn an Tuirc.

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Starting out from a parking place south of Sean Spittal Bridge we head east ascending Carn an Tuirc.

The ascent was pretty immediate and we seemed to be going uphill forever without ever loosing sight of the car.  We passed some beautiful streams and waterfalls on the route up which distracted us momentarily from thoughts of how a night in ‘Scotch Corner’ was not well suited to a hot morning ascent!

Without taking in the summit of Carn an Tuirc we contoured around to find the estates road down to the lodge which runs parallel to Jocks Road.  En route we encountered predictably unpredictable Cairngorms weather with bright sunshine on our departure to rain and thick fog / cloud on the top.

We decided upon a brief stop for some lunch and to take in the view before descending to Loch Callater

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We then descended to Loch Callater and were greeted by an awesome rainbow on the way as if to point towards our treasure (bothy) at the end.

Curious sheep on Loch Callater

On arriving at the bothy we found it empty which we didn’t expect at this time of year and we thought we may have some company later but lucky for us we had the place to ourselves for the evening so no competition for beds!

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The bothy was well furnished with chairs and bunk beds and a selection of items left by previous occupiers.  The bothy is well maintained and is also used for bigger parties of deer stalkers later in the season.  There is a composting toilet in an outbuilding but the only downside is there is no log burning stove at this moment in time.  The previous one was removed unfortunately due to some vandalism.

As we got settled we explored the vicinity and were met by the lodge keeper, Bill, who invited us over for a ‘wee dram’ that evening.  He explained that he was often alone up at the lodge as he maintained it through the year but from the bothy log book it was clear that his generous hospitality was always well received so we joined him for a few hours of conversation and warmth in the lodge before settling in for the night.  This was an experience that can only be truly explained by being there or by asking us in person but sufficed to say we can tell you everything about this charming yet eccentric Aberdonian including who to get your broad band off in Aberdeen!  A night we won’t forget!

We awoke early the next morning ready to head back to the car, and England, but were treated on our return route to deer in a true deer stalking experience as we followed them all the way back to our car park.

The whole experience was a memorable one and the bothy is superb for an overnight stop (although it may be a bit chilly in winter).  Just make sure that you don’t pack tins of lager in to your bag and then put your bag down heavily causing one to burst!  You may think that the rain is soaking through your waterproofs when it’s actually lager running through the contents of your bag, down your back and into your trousers… but remember every cloud has a silver lining and with necessity as the mother of invention then we can introduce our patented outdoor emergency trouser drying technology.

Mick Fenwick

Mountain Leader, D of E Co-Ordinator, Deputy Headteacher

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