"Corrour Bothy" by Ralph Storer can perhaps be thought of as a love-letter to a single small building: and more widely to the Scottish tradition of mountain bothies, of which Corrour is the best known example.
The rear cover blurb notes: "The Scottish Highlands are famous for their bothies - unique mountain refuges that offer free basic shelter in the wilds. The oldest and most famous of these is Corrour, situated in the heart of the Cairngorms at the foot of the mighty monolith of rock known as the Devil's Point. It has been offering shelter from the elements to walkers and climbers since the 1920s and, now renovated, remains as popular as ever." It goes on to say: "Visitors' books, dating from 1928, catalogue a century of comings and goings in the Cairngorms backcountry, from the hardy climbers of the 1930s to the growing numbers of walkers visiting today. Life and death, joy and tragedy, war and peace, humour and adventure, hardship and enchantment, cantankerous mice and the odd spot of rain... Corrour has seen it all."
The book opens with short chapters about the Cairngorms and about Scottish bothies before moving on to tell the story of Corrour itself, including walking routes to the bothy and from it. The bulk of the book, however, comprises comments and stories of the innumerable people who have been associated with or stayed at Corrour Bothy. The human stories that emerge are fascinating and often humourous, and the comments are often accompanied by poetry or drawings.
The first section of personal accounts is arranged in chronological chapters. Then there is a section covering approaches to the bothy including bridge-building work done to make access easier. But the largest and most entertaining section is entitled "Corrour through experience". Here we find chapters covering many different aspects of the experience of those staying at or involved in the bothy. One chapter looks at the war years from 1935-45; while others cover bothy cuisine; climbing capers; friends from abroad; riding to Corrour; midgies; ghosties; and of course rain, amongst many other topics. The concluding chapters cover "The Spirit of the Hills" and "Random Thoughts". It would be fair to say that not all who have visited share the same view of it. Two quotes selected for the rear cover sum this up well. "The greatest scenery I have ever seen. Good luck to anyone who stops at this point in paradise" (4 July 1958); and "Back again. Good heavens. Swore I would never come here again. Wet clothed, Sore feet. What a life!" (5 May 1940).
This is a book that will be of interest to anyone who cares about Scotland's mountains. Ralph Storer has done us all a favour by drawing together what must have been a huge amount of material into such an enjoyable account of Corrour Bothy, and one that will be of lasting value and interest.