Weekend Warm-Up: Hooks

Stephen Pern is probably best known either for his 1990s film Down the Spine of Japan or for his book The Great Divide: A Walk Along the Continental Divide of the United States. But in 2012, he embarked on a project much closer to home: to improve the bothies (walking shelters) scattered around upland Britain.

A bothie. Photo: Stephen Pern


From his years of walking around the UK, he found that the main problem in the bothies was that they didn’t have enough hooks (or any) to hang wet clothes and gear from. His modest but important mission: Put hooks in all these bothies.

Most of them are in the highlands and islands of Scotland, with some scattered around Wales and northeast England. And there lies the first challenge: Pern lives on the South Coast, so has quite a walk before he can start tackling his hook project.

As he dashes around the UK, often in florescent pink shorts, he also gives a running commentary on the places he walks through. He provides fascinating insights into the history, geology and wildlife of the areas he zigzags through, as he tries to hit over 100 bothies. This film is not just a diary of Pern’s seven-month walk. It is a history lesson, a glimpse at the wildlife and landscapes that the UK has to offer, and the tale of someone trying to make life a little better for the entire walking community.