Ayhope Shield bothy – a Mountain Bothies Association maintained bothy used to stand at the Meeting of the Grains, just outside Hamsterley Forest.
It’s not there now. It’s gone. It was demolished by the local farming/grouse keepering peeps about twenty years ago, following years and years of vandalism and , general anti-social behaviour on the part of various yoofs, some on temporary leave from a local approved school (or whatever they called them at the time) and , it has to be said, other local yoofs too.
I had a guided walk planned to visit the site from Wolsingham on Saturday last. Nine people and a dog, plus me and Lucky turned up at the station car park in Wolsingham to a weather forecast that was, frankly, pretty duff.
Nevertheless, we set off hopefully.
A week (ish) before, me and Lucky had reccied the route in cool weather but with hazy sunshine to cheer things up. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten a map, so had to try to remember where everything was. This worked reasonably well and we only got a little bit lost.
On the day of the walk, we got roughly as far as the Elephant Trees when it became obvious that further progress, in the driving rain that was developing, and the hefty headwind, would be daft to say the least. So I called an end to the suffering and planned to head for the folds at Fine Burn head which would have provided reasonable shelter from the storm. But even this became a silly plan, so Plan C was implemented and we headed for Frosterley, lunching in the shelter of a copse of forestry before splashing back to Wolsingham.
Some of us cheered ourselves up in No 10 cafe in Wolsingham, whilst others dripped off home.
I’ll probably put the route in as a Durham County Council guided walk for next summer. It’s eleven miles….
Before the place was finally demolished, I rescued the bothy book. Here are some of the entries:
22/11/1987 Shildon Sunnydale DofE group. Good night! Hut cleaned and secured before leaving. Frank ?Anderson MBA
15/12/1987 Steve & Ray (Mbro) Steve – First time I’ve been to the bothy – very impressed – walked over moor via forest – f****ing cold but enjoyed it.
PS Where’s the colour TV, Fridge full of real ale and the hot and cold running house mains !!!
Rays – so pissed off ITS COLD I felt like commiting (sic) suicide because some bastard didn’t leave the boffi tidy. I think it was Paul, Dikki and Dereke(sic) (All Puffs). I just had a wank all over the bench and in the 5 gallon container (water bottle). See you next f*****g summer.
PS/ Ray has got aids (REALLY!) SO CHANGE THE WATER BEFORE YOU DRINK IT.
23/12/1987 Came and found streamers and Christmas tree all nicely decorated. Merry Christmas James Limb Age 9
No date Sarah Murdoch Loves Lee Owens
Spring 1988 – lots of entries for overnights
22/4/1988 Drove in with cement and lime for new fireplace. Look forward to seeing finished job. Dick Phillips Nenthead (Mr Phillips was Maintenance Officer)
8/5/1988 Long message from Ian Emmerson MBA warning about people walking over the moor in the night and disturbing grouse and general bad behaviour of some bothiers.
1/6/1988 Gamekeeper came, what a mess outside bothy, green branches been sawn off tins lain about someone had big fire outside Not good enough Anon – Punctuation by writer!
3/6/1988 Long post by Eric of Swaledale Fell Rescue
26/8/1988 What comes before thunder
31/10/1988 Arrived 12:30. Nice and sunny but cold. Bothy windows broken, otherwise clean and tidy. Found a pen knife, I will return it to whoever can describe it. M Knipe (address supplied) PS Benji ate the mouse
Undated: We had to fu*****g f***K the skep (sic) to keep warm
I wont to f***k you. Cheese..
Show me your tit.
2/1/1989 (entry says 1988, but it’s a new year)
Debbie had been haer
Jackie had been haer
Ian had been haer
Jan had been haer
Final entry – about 11/5/1989 - Kane Hobson waz ere..
Pic shows Ayhope Shield bothy last Tuesday.
(comments on the above link apparently lifted from www.walkingforum.com)