My Peppercombe Bothy Micro-Adventure

A micro adventure in National Trust bothy...

Bothies are magical places. Built off the beaten track, they offer a haven for those who need a place to stay, often to get away from the howling weather. Bothies aren’t made for luxury, but for shelter. Four sturdy walls are often a welcome sight at the end of the day and sometimes they can be a genuine lifesaver.

I have visited a couple of bothies in Scotland and the experience blew me away. One overlooked its very own beach, only accessible by water or a long walk. It truly felt like it was all ours. So when I heard the National Trust was opening a bothy in North Devon my interest definitely piqued. I was lucky enough to be asked if I would like to try it out, and of course I was chomping at the bit, and fascinated to see how the National Trust would translate the classic bothy to the Devonshire coast.

So one Thursday morning, when the rest of the world was making their daily trudge to work, my girlfriend Anne and I loaded our van full of toys and our trusty pooch and set off from Bristol for the coast. Just two hours later we were driving along a single-track lane in a secluded wooded valley. The land is looked after by the National Trust so vehicular access is restricted to those staying in the holiday cottages and bothy (If you’re coming by foot the bothy can be accessed direct from the coast path). Feeling rather privileged we let ourselves through the padlocked gates and soon arrived at the final track to the bothy, where we continued on foot. On approaching the bothy the seclusion and peace was already absolute. There were no other dwellings in site and the snug little hut was nestled into the hillside, with a beautiful backdrop of sunshine glistening on the bay below. The soundtrack for our arrival was the startled song of a nearby blackbird as Sherpa, our dog, bounded into view.

Simple but sweet, the Peppercombe Bothy consists of one open-plan room, complete with a basic kitchen area and two wooden platforms for beds. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s all you need to make it your own. Next to some bothies I’ve come across this one is comparatively luxurious, with running (cold) water and even an outside toilet, with a fantastic view down the valley – a true loo with a view. Outside there’s a picnic table and a fire pit for toasting the obligatory marshmallows.

We arrived in beautiful weather, unpacked and made the bothy our own, finding time for a spot of lunch in the fair weather dining room. Then we set out to explore this picturesque, unspoilt part of the UK. Many of the paths and coves in the area are off the beaten track although the well-trodden South West Coast Path brings occasional passing visitors. A short trip down to the beach revealed a deserted sand and pebble beach stretching as far as we could see. 


Anne set off for a run along the sand at the water’s edge to see how far the beach stretched, and I took advantage of the empty beach and a well-loved tennis ball to entertain Sherpa. It’s possibly the first time we have found ourselves with such an enormous beach all to ourselves. Reunited once again, we briefly considered a dip in the sea but decided temperatures weren’t quite balmy enough to tempt us.

Knowing we had a couple of hours before sunset we jumped on our mountain bikes and explored the rolling green lanes in the area. This provided the perfect pre-dinner appetite builder and we enjoyed soaking up the last sunshine of the evening.


On arriving back at the bothy, stomachs grumbling, we took advantage of the lovely weather and cooked up a hearty dinner (chorizo pesto pasta – a firm camping favourite) on our camping stove outside. By setting the stove on the hard standing outside, and with our food bubbling away we could relax with a beer and look out across the cove. What a perfect evening this was turning out to be. After eating our fill we swiftly washed up in the handy sink, wrapped up warm and headed out to the cliff-tops to watch the sunset.

We retired back to the cosy bothy, lit a few candles and settled down into our sleeping bags. As we lay there reviewing our day’s adventure and discussing what the next day could have in store, a hooting owl lulled us to sleep.

Kit List For A Bothy Micro-Adventure

It’s best to think of a trip to a bothy as camping, but without the tent.
Here are a few essentials I would recommend packing:

  1. A roll mat or inflatable mattress – the thicker the better for a good night’s sleep.
  2. A 2 – 3 season sleeping bag – without heating it’s worth wrapping up warm. If in doubt go for a warmer bag and you can always vent it out.
  3. A good head torch – it gets very dark when there’s no moon.
  4. A stove, if you can carry it, or a basic gas burner if you’re pushed for space.
  5. A pot or pan – on this occasion the need for bacon butties meant a frying pan was a must.
  6. A warm jacket and hat for those cold evenings.
  7. Waterproofs for if the weather turns sour.
  8. A local map and compass so you can navigate your way around.
  9. A small first aid kit / ouch pouch just in case.

Why not try your own bothy adventure and book a stay in Peppercombe Bothy or explore the other bunkhouses and bothies available to book from the National Trust?

Posted By

James Bradley - Cotswold Outdoor Bristol


James isn’t happy unless he’s outdoors, whether it be a local countryside dog walk or scaling a mountain peak somewhere, a far-off kayaking expedition or a ride around LLandegla in North Wales. He’s a keen climber, mountaineer, mountain biker and kayaker and these passions have taken him all over the world.

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