By: Blonde Two
Before I start this debate, allow me to explain in clear Blonde terms what a bivvy and a bothy are:
A bivvy bag is a bag that you put your sleeping bag into and sleep inside. The word bivvy is actually an abbreviation of bivouac which has a confusing etymology that is something to do with Germans staying up all night. Bivvy can be both a noun and a verb, sometimes climbers bivvy whilst hanging off cliffs at strange angles. Sleeping in a bivvy bag is a draughtier alternative to sleeping in a tent, but a really lovely outdoor experience that allows you to a) See the stars, b) Feel the rain on your face, c) Do some ridiculous wriggling upon entry and exit.
A bothy is a remote, usually small, hut or cottage in which walkers or other adventurers can take shelter. There are more in Scotland than in other parts of the UK and I do not know of one on Dartmoor. Bothies are usually maintained by volunteers, many by the Mountain Bothies Association and are intended for short stays and small groups or individuals. They not known for their cosiness in February. The word bothy appears to have Gaelic roots (not garlic, that would be smelly).
Mr Blonde Two and I are aiming again for a ‘Bivvy-a-Month’ this year. We started well in 2015 but demonstrated poor timing skills by only achieving January and February.
Because of my concerns about distance, daylight and navigation during our recent Welsh expedition, I wanted to make sure that Running Girl and I were equipped to spend a night outside, should that become necessary. Rather than a tent, we both carried bivvy bags (not bothies, they would have been far too heavy!)
As mentioned above, a bothy in February (even with a cheery fire) is not a warm place to be, and I had read that a bivvy bag can add 5 – 10 degrees in warmth; so I decided that I would experiment and sleep inside my sleeping bag (Big Orange), inside my bivvy bag, inside the bothy. The experiment had great results, I was as warm as toast both nights and am considering trying the same experiment in the tent on our next Blonde camp.
Running Girl didn’t have quite the same experience. She had a smallish bivvy bag and tried getting herself, her sleeping bag and her Exped-type inflatable mat inside. She managed and was warm (mainly because of the amount of wriggling required) but couldn’t move at all!