I’m excited to introduce you to Lagandorain’s beautiful Shepherd’s Bothy.
Contrary to what you would expect, it is very difficult to find secluded and simple accommodation on Iona, somewhere to just sit and reflect, write or go on quiet retreat. My hope is that the Bothy will offer this to those who want it. As either a retreat or a romantic getaway it’s something very special.
Hand-built recently in England along the lines of the traditional Shepherd’s Hut it’s on four big cast-iron wheels, clad in blue corrugated tin, weighs in at a ton and a half and is a truly magnificent thing. I’ve always wanted such a hut (or bothy as they’re known in Scotland) for Lagandorain and a generous friend out there has made it possible. So thank you again, ‘out there’!
She’s tucked away among the rocky outcrops behind Cnoc Buie (yellow hill), the little hill behind the Hostel. This is where I’ve been planting trees over the years so she’s surrounded by young willow, birch, hazel and oak. (and a couple of baby monkey-puzzle trees …but that’s another story). It’s a lovely secret spot, quiet and secluded yet within three or four minutes walk from the Hostel. The intention is that Bothy guests can use the hostel toilet and kitchen facilities, do a bit of socialising if they want, then retire to the peace of Blawlowan (blow softly) when they are ready for a bit of peace.
She’s beautifully furnished inside, with a single bed that pulls out to make a double, an old dresser and a Lloyd-loom table and chair. There is a rolled umbrella, a torch, a hot water bottle and an oil lamp. Everything you need really apart from chocolate (which you can now buy in the hostel). It has electricity so there is bright overhead lighting if you want it, a cosy bedside lamp and an electric fire. The Bothy is very heavily insulated so you shouldn’t need it too much.
Something to point out is that one persons rural idyll can be another’s scary darkness and it can take a while to get used to the silences, sounds and darkness of a country night. The drumming of a snipe has sent many a brave heart under the covers, never mind an amorous corncrake yelling for love in the grass outside! It’s very comfortably furnished, homey and safe but at the end of the day it’s only a little hut in what is a very big and wild landscape.
For those that are comfortable with such living, it’s a spectacular place:
a place for thought and for unthinking
a place of reflection and calm,
A place for gazing west over the sea.