Something I had never even heard of up until a couple of weeks ago, when I made the decision to stay in one overnight for the purpose of a documentary myself and my team were shooting.
What is a bothy you ask?
Well, a bothy (in Scotland) is described as a small hut or cottage, used to home farm labourers or for the use of mountain refuge. Or, in our case, a home for the night in the middle of the wilderness. After weeks of preparation and planning into the routes we were going to take across the Highlands, we decided to choose one specific Bothy and spend the night.
Jumping in at the deep end, the first time I was going to visit this Bothy, would also be the first time I stayed an entire night, and due to the nights drawing in a lot quicker this time of year – it would mean we spent a large amount of our time in darkness.
To give you an idea of what is inside a bothy – to be honest, very little. The simple purpose of a Bothy, to provide shelter and (very little) warmth. No signal, no facilities, no food or water just a room with a fireplace and window. To a few people, I’m sure this sounds slightly daunting and not everyone’s cup of tea. I understand that, and I was also slightly nervous about what I was letting myself in for.
However, I actually thoroughly enjoyed the experience. If you are well prepared with food, water, warm clothing, a positive mindset and potentially a group of people – the entire experience of staying completely in the wilderness is exciting and almost something you could become addicted to.
How to stay in a Bothy
Simply turn up. One of the main differences between a hotel and a bothy, is the fact that you do not need to book. A Bothy is free to stay.
Although the idea of this is exciting, an aspect that I was certainly worried about was the fact that anyone could walk into the Bothy, at any point during the night, and would also be potentially sharing a room with you. This didn’t actually happen to me, however the Bothy we chose to stay in actually had numerous rooms – so this worry disappeared pretty quickly.
Our fascination with Bothies started when my colleague and bestfriend, Tom, grabbed ‘The Bothy Bible’ by Geoff Allan from Waterstones. The book tells the ins and outs of “bothying” and everything there is to offer. The book shares the locations of these odd little houses, how many people they sleep and a bit of background information on each.
We used this as our guide to Bothies.
As you can see in the image above, I managed to capture a picture of one of the visitor books left in the Bothy. These books were highly interested (a little strange in some areas), but told stories of each of the other guests that had previously taken our place and stayed in our Bothy. I was somewhat glad I read the book and some of the stories it had to offer after spending the night as some were a little creepy to say the least. (It goes without saying that I was glad we chose not to stay in the attic).
How the night went
After arriving at the Bothy mid-afternoon, we decided to grab as much (already fallen) wood that we could, before nightfall. This is something I would highly recommend you do as after the sun goes down, this task becomes significantly more difficult.
After this, we began setting out our sleeping bags, and began making the fire. We did this early so we could warm up the room before the evening when we knew the temperature was going to drop. After doing this, lighting a few candles and grabbing a bite to eat, the room instantly had a “cosy” feel to it. We played music and games, sat by the fire and had long, deep conversations late into the night.
When it came to sleeping, I’m going to be honest, I am a slight wimp when it comes to the dark and this is mainly down to being a horror movie fanatic. I slept OK – drifting in and out of sleep throughout the night, jumping up as soon as we saw the first signs of daylight. Apart from the odd noise or two and the loudest mouse I have ever heard, the night wasn’t so bad after all. One thing I am sure of however, is that it gets really cold in the Bothy. Ok, we didn’t choose the warmest time to year to start this expedition, but nevertheless a Bothy is essentially a wooden shed with no form of heating, so please do pack enough warm clothing and a heavy duty sleeping bag.
However, from a Filmmaker and Photographer’s point of view – these Bothies were well worth the trip. At least for the Bothy we stayed in, the views surrounding the exterior were utterly beautiful. Surrounding us for miles upon miles of stunning mountains, it really was a photographer’s dream, and I would highly recommend delving into a trip like this simply for the views and potential captures.
If you are planning a trip or even a stay in a Bothy, I would highly recommend purchasing Geoff Allan’s book and utilising his advice to do some serious research into the perfect Bothy for you. You can purchase his book below, using the following link:
The great moments, and the not-so-great moments, summarised into one blog post.
Last Summer, I was lucky enough to spend five weeks of August leading into September, travelling. For some odd reason (I never like to do things the easy way), we decided to begin in Iceland, then fly over to Canada and explore some of Toronto, Vancouver and Whistler then, New York, Washington, Atlanta, Orlando, Miami and finishing in Barbados.. not a simple route, I know.
But nevertheless, it was incredible. Arriving in Barbados, the idea was to keep the six days we spent there, “chill” and use it as a relaxing end to the four previous weeks of non-stop go. However, we soon discovered after the first 24 hours that we are in-fact, not chill at all. Is it bad to say that I was honestly bored of sitting on a beach?
Because I was.
So, instead of sitting on a beach and spending the days in and out of the ocean (which was lovely for the first day), we decided to book as much as we could and explore the Island.
This is when we met Mario Williams.
Mario advertises himself as “Island Explorer Tours, Barbados”.
His normal trips take the route of Speightstown, a hidden gem located in North Point (pictured above), Cherry Tree Hill, Martin’s Bay and then Beachy Head Beach. However, it was to our surprise that he actually offered us a one off intimate trip around the entirety of the island, in a jeep. (It helped that he knew we were Photographers and documented the entirety of the drive across the Island).
Mario had lived on the Island for years, and this meant that he knew the in’s and out’s of the entirety of Barbados – taking us to places that he normally never took tourists, which is what made the tour so much more special.
In the above image, you can see a photograph overlooking Beachy Head, one of my favourite views on the island. The different builds were so interesting to look at, and with Mario discussing each different aspect to the houses and traditional views and rules of Barbados, it made the tour all the more enjoyable. A lot of the houses in Barbados are actually unfinished (as you can see in the above image), giving a sort of “shack” look to them. This is due to the fact that in Barbados, if your house is “unfinished”, you do not have to pay tax. So, instead of leaving their houses in a mess, most people usually leave them unpainted or still with scaffolding surrounding them.
The views surrounding us, went on for miles and miles. Miles of beach, forestry and the most insane mountains and hills in the distance, and with the chance of getting to the highest points in the jeep, the photography opportunities were truly incredible. I edited the above photo in lightroom, slightly changing the colours of Peter Mckinnon’s ‘North’ filter, and I am obsessed with the result.
The above photograph is possibly one of my favourite photo’s taken on the tour. It’s a random photo to choose, because there isn’t a whale breaching out of the ocean, or the empire state and the insane skyline of New York – it is simply just a road leading down to Martin’s Bay. To be quite honest, the photo on the camera and in it’s raw state, wasn’t anything special – but after editing it – I am in love. Barbados as an Island, is actually only 166 square miles, and I found with this photograph in particular you can actually see a large distance of the Island – but just in one photo, which made this location so unique to the previous nine we had visited beforehand.
The memories that go along with this photo are also so great, and so fond. This was around three hours into the trip, racing along the beautiful bajan roads and reaching the most unreal beach, where we stayed and spent a couple of hours exploring the caves and rockery along the coastline.
Although we were told when we got there, that you couldn’t actually take photos of the windmill (pictured above) – this of course made me want to grab my camera even more. The photo’s I captured of the windmill were so pretty once edited, sometimes you have to go against the rules (without offending too many people) in order of getting the perfect Instagram.
I would highly, highly recommend taking a trip here (or asking Mario on the trip if you can hop off and quickly grab a photo), because the views surrounding this particular area were beautiful, and so different to the rest of the island. This area was so green and full of forestry, that I was just obsessed with the contrast against the beaches and ocean in the background.
Please, please, PLEASE take a trip here if you are planning on visiting Barbados.
Now we come to the most “Katie-ified” part of the Island.
The Wildlife Reserve.
I have said this time and time again on numerous Instagram posts and stories, but something that made this place to special and so diverse, was the fact that unlike so many other reserves and zoo’s, this one offered the animals food and a place to meet, but without being trapped or behind a glass screen.
You had to respect the animals and not invade their space, but it made visiting this place so much more intimate, without affecting the animals in a negative way.
The monkey’s pictured above were roaming around the entirety of the Island everywhere you looked, but it was lovely to see how tame they were with the locals. It was as if they had a certain sense of respect for the people, that they were allowed to wander freely, without the option of being caged or behind a glass screen.
However, something that I didn’t quite expect as much was how unsafe I felt in certain areas of the Island. I was aware there were areas that weren’t the best for “tourists” ands the hotel told me that I shouldn’t wear any expensive jewellery when leaving the hotel grounds in case people try to steal it – however I did feel that I had to watch my back constantly when wandering the Island.
I’m not quite sure why I felt this way, because every local that I spoke too was lovely – but that is something I would keep in mind when booking a trip to Barbados. When going back, I would personally choose to stay more so within the area of Paradise Beach leading up to Speightstown, rather than the bottom of the island near Grantly Adams Airport which is where I stayed last time I visited. After travelling the Island, I gained a better understanding of the best and safest areas to visit – and where should be avoided, just like any other place on the planet. There will always be “good” areas, and “bad”.
… The name ‘Kippy’ is not by any means, final. It is a temporary nickname due to myself and the rest of my team being completely indecisive.
So, The Falklands Film.
Something that has been in the works for many months and as of next week, will finally go into Production.
Next week, myself and my colleagues at Chandler Media will be shooting a short film set during the Falklands War. The film is based on true events, specifically the attack at Bluff Cove on 8th June 1982, and tells the story of a soldier whose moral compass and relationship with his best friend are tested after allied forces are attacked.
We are making the film to highlight the importance of helping soldiers re-adjust to civilian life, and how their sacrifices can still affect them when they return home. We feel this topic is hugely important but often forgotten about. While the film is based on one event, the message of the film is really to help everyone affected by warfare, be that family or friends, you or someone you know.
We hope to be able to partner with organisations that specialize in helping veterans re-adjust after warfare environments, and once we are finished, we would love for the film to be used to help charities and draw attention to this issue. This isn’t just for us to make a film for the sake of it; we want the project to have a real impact.
I have started ‘The Falklands Film Diaries’ to document the journey and process of the making of this film – as I not only think it will be great to look back on, but may interest some of my audience on Instagram.
In August of last year, Myself and Jack took it upon ourselves to travel and experience as many locations as possible within the timescale of a month. The route we chose, a little odd and involved a huge amount of time spent in the air, but nevertheless it was incredible.
To anyone that ever asks me a question with regards to travel, I will always encourage them to just do it. Save your money, do your research and book a ticket. There is no greater feeling than experiencing new people and cultures that you’d never of even dreamed of. I truly believe it shapes you as a person, and the memories and photos you will take – will without a doubt, be incredible.
This brings me on to discuss Canada.Vancouver specifically.
After visiting Toronto, we caught a flight to Vancouver and spent a large amount of our time away, here. From the moment I left the airport and grabbed the train to central Vancouver, I fell completely head over heels in love with the city.
The people and city were lovely, but the scenery was what instantly drew me to this place.
I had spent a considerable amount of time researching into the best locations to hit whilst in Vancouver, like I do when travelling to all new countries, so I was aware of how beautiful Vancouver was, but seeing it was person was completely breath-taking.
I could ramble on all day about what I loved most, however if we are keeping this short and sweet – I wanted to discuss just a couple of my favourite moments spent in this wonderful place.
A.K.A The most beautiful place I have ever been, to this day.
I knew before I booked Vancouver, that I needed to visit Whistler. The forests, Lakes and Mountains looked to be quite frank, too good to be true – so I had to see and document them for myself and wow,
They did not disappoint.
Looking back, I would have definitely have taken a longer trip to Whistler, however, it is something I now know for the future, as I am already planning a trip back to Vancouver as soon as I can.
The easiest and most cost efficient way seemed to be to book through a travel company, and take a coach trip to Whistler. Although this isn’t the ideal way of travelling – I would recommend it if it is your first time travelling from Vancouver to Whistler. The journey wasn’t terrible and only lasted around two hours, and the surrounding views made the trip a lot easier and more enjoyable on the way up.
Once we arrived, everything was easy.
The team that drove us to Whistler were extremely helpful and allowed us a certain amount of time to explore (around seven hours which was perfect), before we met back at the truck.
Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler, is a four-season resort located in Canada’s Coast Mountains, north of Vancouver, holding the largest ski resort in North America. The views, and hikes surrounding the Mountain were completely breath-taking and rather than rushing for my camera, I found myself stood taking in the views, which was a really odd feeling for me.
As you can imagine, the scenery was stunning and for me, a massive factor was the Wildlife that was on offer in the forests. Black bears, hundreds of different types of birds, deer just to name a few. Something that I really loved about Whistler, was the fact that it reminded me so much of my home in The Lake District (obviously on a much bigger scale).
In a really weird way, I felt at home whilst I was there – and there aren’t many places in the world that I can I say, I would Happily move to – however, I could EASILY move to Whistler. In fact, it may or may not be on my bucket list..
Moving on to a slightly different side to Vancouver..
Being completely and utterly obsessed with Orca’s for as long as I can remember, I of course had already previously researched into Whale Watching companies that ticked all the boxes for me.
The first box, was that the trip would be worth the money in terms of the length of the trip. I understand completely that it is never guaranteed that you will see a Whale, as they are in their natural habitat and at the end of the day – you cannot predict what they will do or when you will see them. However, you are paying a large sum of money – and you want as much time as possible out at sea, and for the trip not to be rushed.
The second box was that the company would be safe and respectful of the surrounding wildlife – and not getting too close to the Whales. This is because so many people, and so many companies think it is acceptable to drive as close as possible to the Whales, disturbing them, and this can cause major issues when they are travelling in large groups (pods) or with their young.
A company that ticked both these boxes for me, was Prince of Whales.
This trip was incredible, and something that I had been waiting for, for a very long time.
I was lucky enough to be able to view a large pod of six orcas, in their natural habitat. Happy and content. If anyone knows me well, you’ll know that the Orca and the whale species in general has always fascinated me – to the point that a personal life goal and dream of mine is to shoot a documentary surrounding the subject of marine captivity, very much in the style of Blackfish.
Orca’s travel in small groups (pods), and I was lucky enough to share an intimate moment with a matured male, group of females and a calf. Having only witnessed these incredible animals within the form of captivity and behind a glass screen, it was a very special moment for me to see these animals, wild and free.
This was the best way fo viewing these animals, so please think twice about purchasing a ticket to a corporation like Seaworld in the future. Take the time to wait and be patient, and I promise the few minutes of viewing these animals within their natural habitat, will be completely worth it. I strongly suggest you contacting Prince of Whales via their Instagram if you are interested in taking a Whale tour within Vancouver.