‘Where the hell is it?’ I probe the darkness with the fading beam of my head torch searching for the bothy. In the dwindling light everything gets distorted, from a distance boulders grow in size only to diminish when you reach them.
I look for straight lines, that’s the key. Nature does curves, only man made things are straight. I know I am close to the bothy but it is made out of local stone and merges in with everything else. After an hour I give up, get out my sleeping bag and bed down.
There will be no bothy fire tonight, no dreamy comfort watching the flames dance in the coals. Tonight I’ll watch the stars and curse my incompetence.
It’s amazing how a night spent in the open, when you can’t find a bothy, sharpens up your navigation. That was a few years ago now. I haven’t failed to get to a bothy since.
That did bring home to me the importance of a good head torch. I bought this one recently, cost around £12 and outshines most of its expensive contemporary’s. It has four settings, BRIGHT, BRIGHTER, EVEN BRIGHTER and FLASHING. It’s made by a company called Boruit and, no, I’ve never heard of them either.
For the money you can’t beat it.
I recently saw a head torch on sale for £65. I am sure it’s really good but for that sort of money I’d expect to be able to light up the dark side of the moon.
The downside of the Boruit light is it is a bit on the heavy side but I’ll definitely keep packing it on all my winter trips. I’ll revert to my lighter Petzell when the summer comes. Another problem is that the on/off switch is too prominent and it can easily be accidentally switched on when packed away in your rucksack. I take the batteries out when I’m not using the torch.
As I lay in my sleeping bag, dozing but not asleep, the sky gradually lightens and dawn creeps into the glen. I rub my eyes and rise, unsteadily to my feet. 100 metres away sits the bothy, just beyond the beam of my torch. Somewhere, very far away, I hear laughter.