We’ve just had a lovely weekend at the Barley Bothy: a little hut on a strawberry and sheep farm near Huntly. You can watch the making of the hut on Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces, (series 4, episode 4). We like staying in interesting places because that’s all part of the holiday experience and the Barley Bothy is a warm, relaxing, and characterful space.
There’s no wifi, no TV, no toaster or electric kettle at the Barley Bothy. Instead there’s a fabulous Jotul wood fire which keeps the place very warm (indeed, it got a little too warm at times) and can also be used for cooking.
There’s also a wood-fired stove although we only used it once to make coffee. There are lights and some electric sockets for devices. There’s also plenty of hot water, a wood-fired hot tub, and a pizza oven.
The host, Jane, is exemplary and left us with freshly baked bread, homemade strawberry jam, oats for porridge, tea, coffee, sugar, and fudge. For an extra £5 she’ll also make pizza bases for you and we can attest to their deliciousness. We took our own toppings and made pizza on our second night using the pellet-fired pizza oven.
Inside the Barley Bothy is like a museum with an eclectic collection of curiosities. Most things were sourced from reclamation yards including the toilet which looks like an antique but is fully functional.
The bath is beautiful and very comfortable to lie back and relax in.
The beds are in the traditional highland style inside cupboards which the kids loved. Above the bed is a skylight and it was nice to look up and see the stars at night. We were fortunate to have clear skies on both nights.
It was very relaxing. There’s no rushing in the Barley Bothy. Making tea on the Jotul takes about 45 minutes. The hot tub takes 4 hours to heat up which seems like a long time but it holds a lot of water and the starting temperature was about 10C. It was very easy to light but requires constant feeding while it heats up.
We found the hot tub a bit smoky. We’ve tried one of these wood-fired tubs before and the last one had a flue that released the smoke above your heads. This one had no flue and the smoke was released below us and inevitably wafted into our faces. It made me think of Australia and the bushfires there and what it must be like to have that smoke hanging around constantly. At least it was just temporary for us. Nevertheless, the tub was wonderfully relaxing and soporific. Next to the bothy is a stream so you get to hear the gentle sounds of running water from the stream and the occasional contented bleat of a nearby sheep.
The next morning the temperature outside was about 1C and the hot tub was still 28C. It had retained a lot of heat overnight so we decided to give it a try but it was definitely on the icy side.
The timber decking was covered in frost and our feet nearly froze to the ground when we got out. Here’s the frozen whisky barrel beside the bothy.
Around the bothy the landscape is very pretty undulating farmland.
On the Saturday we drove to Huntly to a good second-hand bookstore. We discovered a farmer’s market and got a delicious loaf of German-style bread.
I was keen to do some crochet in the bothy but forgot to take my crochet things. In Huntly there’s an Ethical Gift shop which has lots of yarn donated by knitters for their knitting group. They also sell it so I found some nice green wool and a hook and asked the man at the till how much he wanted for it. He said, “How much do you think?” I shrugged and he said, “How about £1?” so I gave him £2.
On Sunday after leaving we drove home via Oldmeldrum and stopped at Formantine’s farm shop and café for lunch.
I had a really nice vegan baguette with smoked tofu, sauerkraut and pickle. I highly recommend it. There’s also a nice forest walk you can do around Haddo Trout Lake.
We had a fab weekend away at the Barley Bothy. It’s a great place to get away from the city and slow down and truly relax.