Cabin freever : a pallet potting shed

January 2017 in the UK has seen some windy weather, enough so to reduce our existing Halls greenhouse to a pile of aluminium struts and perspex sheets. After some righting activity I thought it was structurally solid. That same night the wind returned and crushed the structure flat. Time for a rethink.. 

So,  greenhouses are expensive and the thought of dismantling an old one and transporting it to our allotment filled me with dread. Think of the smashed glass! 

I’ve spent too much time lately perusing diy shed/cabin builds and enough time on to convince me to purchase the book, which, by the way is excellent. The idea of a self thought build-as-you-go greenshed (pottinghouse) appealed to me especially using any timber and scrap materials I could find and whatever I could scavenge from the wrecked greenhouse. 

First I cleared the site. It’s quite a nicely constructed plinth with a concrete centre and brick sides. A previous Tennant has spent considerable time with this. 

My first win was from work. I found a building company had left two double size pallets the exact size that I needed (2.4m x 1m) to make the sides. I’ve been collecting pallets for a while now so I was able to piece together the walls… 

Now. Unfortunately with the roof I needed to purchase the wood for the rafters. Not expensive but a shame. It’s a simple design but it works and its strong enough (trust me I’m an engineer). 

The roofing material was lifted straight from the old greenhouse, there was more than enough to fit out the roof. 

I stapled a strip of what looks like draft excluder between the rafter and the polycarbonate. It was lying around so I used it, should keep it watertight – not that it really matters. 

The sides were panelled with laminate flooring which had been taken up from my grandparents flat. It’s not the most appropriate material for this purpose but again it was free. 

To protect the laminate (maybe for a year or two) we painted using outdoor wood paint which we bought. That stuff is expensive. 

A used door which we had taken from our bathroom and was destined for the skip fit really well with only a chop off the top. 

So our greenshed is almost complete. There’s an auto opening window around the back and some shelving to make inside. Somehow I don’t think this one will blow away!

Why bothy with it?

So what makes a group of middle aged men (and women) ride,  walk or run for hours at remote locations to sleep in a basic and rustic shack with potential company of unknown quantities. My weekend activities regularly invite comments from work colleagues of “you’re doing what phar phar phar” and the closer to the bone “are you mental” which leads me to question my own reasons, albeit temporarily. It’s best that we start at the conception, eureka.

The eureka moment of any adventure no matter how big or small triggers the kernel of excitement which is needed to drive through detailed planning and ultimately to execution.  It is this phase where the unlikely becomes the absolutely necessary and the line on the paper map becomes a vision not yet tainted by the harsh reality of the remote landscape. It is a dreamscape. For me this involves the best friends, a shared vision of something out of the ordinary, special, difficult or even absurd. This is what turns a trip out into an adventure.  For some this is a solo adventure, admirable, daring, perhaps the ultimate solitude?


Perfectly imperfect planning

The period between eureka and execution allows expectation to be nurtured, enough so at the point of implementation we’re all fired up and ready for action. This period is important to the process, it allows fermentation of ideas, growth as a group and expansion of itinerary – this only goes one way. Social media is useful for this, a regular pub visit is more useful and hugely more entertaining.

It is not the specifics of the bothy that are important. The location of the bothy, the history, the landscape all determining factors in the legend of the current. More importantly the friends you are with, acquaintances that you meet, what you are without and how you reached the location are key. Did you trek through a remote forest well into the dark, perhaps you cycled until the track ended and then kept on going or carried out an impromptu river portage. Not all bothies are easily accessible and the route you plan on paper may not exist on the ground.

The track less travelled

So what is a bothy. A bothy is formally defined as a small hut or cottage, especially one for housing farm labourers or for use as a mountain refuge. There are numerous other definitions, though the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA) are closer to the truth describing it as camping without a tent.


Wainhope Bothy : Kielder Forest

The experience is dependent on more than the makeup of the bothy. Companions (man or beast), the purpose of your adventure and your openness to the new and different all contribute to making the stay memorable for the right or wrong reasons. It will not be what you expect. The bothy may not be clean, tidy or have any fuel for the fire, you may have interesting or unusual company, of this you have no control.

Wainhope Bothy : Kielder Forest

Two examples of well maintained bothies (by the MBA) at the very northern reaches of England, Wainhope and Kershopehead bothies almost straddle the border with Scotland. Both are interesting, however at Kershopehead (below), the traveller is greeted with a true story of a gamekeeper who was murdered only a short walk from its door. This type of historic revelation does little to settle the mind, rather adding to the mystery, intrigue and occasion.

Kershopehead Bothy : Kielder Forest

Bothies exist for the love of the outdoors. They are an addition not a substitution to what is available to us already, they enable us to extend our time investigating wild, remote and beautiful landcapes. You could camp in a tent, for sure, but would you journey out to this specific location if there were no bothy here, probably not.

Want to get involved…..

Check out the Mountain Bothy Association  website, why not join the charity and support the great work they do to provide this most unique accommodation. There’s even the opportunity to help with the maintenance of existing and development of new bothies. There are currently locations in the north of England, Scotland and Wales.

Full album of the Kielder Bothy trip from December 2016

Further reading…..

The short introduction

So this is me, Mark. Engineer, runner, cyclist, allotment gardener, blogger and family man. Not in order of priority. I’m really interested in wellbeing and feeling happy and fulfilled, whether that’s through adventure, food, exercise or relaxation. I hope you find some of my posts useful, informative or even entertaining – I’d be interested in hearing from you too.