What could be more romantic than getting away from it all by escaping to a historic stone shepherd’s cottage perfectly situated by a meandering stream deep in the forest of Southern Scotland? Forget fluffy pillows, a hot bath and rose petals scattered over the four poster bed though. This cottage is without piped water, central heating, beds, electricity, a toilet or privacy; as well as having our 6 year old in tow, we could be joined by anyone else. OK, so I appreciate a night in a bothy wouldn’t be everybody’s idea of a romantic retreat, but thankfully both my husband and prefer to celebrate Valentines in a less conventional and commercial manner. We weren’t the only ones. A couple were already ensconced in the bothy by the time we arrived in the late afternoon. They had actually come for a romantic night though, having left their two young children at home (in the care of other family I hasten to add). At least they managed to get a full three hours of relative peace to themselves before we turned up and shattered the amorous atmosphere. They retreated to a smaller wood panelled room in the bothy (who could blame them) while we shared the larger room with a semi-retired gentleman who had arrived just before us.

This was Finn’s first winter bothy trip but we had carefully chosen a bothy equipped with a stove and plenty of dead wood in the surrounding forest plantation to keep us warm during the evening. In fact wood collection was the highlight of the trip for Finn. We gathered firewood from a felled plantation on the afternoon we arrived and gave Finn the job of Chief Wheelbarrow Driver, which he held with great pride until the impending darkness and a rain shower hurried us inside. Even better than the position of Chief Wheelbarrow Driver was hitching a ride in the back of the couples’ Land Rover the following morning, accompanied by their wee dog, Jack, to help fell a couple of dead trees up valley and bring them back to the bothy for the use of future occupants.

At this time of the year it still gets dark fairly early so after a sociable evening of conversation and cards and Finn wearing out our companion with his imaginary games we retired to our cosy sleeping bags squeezed together on a sleeping platform made for two. We woke to a mild, dry morning and our companion swinging a larger than usual mouse in front of us that he had caught in a trap overnight. After a candlelit breakfast (see, we didn’t forgo romance altogether) and helping out with some bothy maintenance we dragged Finn away from his play at the stream, where he had devised a game that only the imagination of a six year old can conjure up, and headed for home. I guess if we can spend a night like that together and actually enjoy it, it must be love 😉