THE simple mountain bothy might provide shelter to hillwalkers in remote corners of the country. Cat McGoldrick could never have imagined the transformative effect the refuge would have on her life.

Visiting a remote lodge in Glen Etive with Venture Scotland took the 27-year-old out of Glasgow and into an environment so different from her life in the East End of Glasgow, she vowed to change.

Struggling with alcoholism from her mid teens, for years her life for a string of drinking binges followed by blackouts. In and out of hospital to be treated for pancreatitis and liver problems, Cat has lost her older brother and a number of friends to addiction.

In trouble with the police and eventually on a home curfew, the future couldn’t have looked any bleaker. That’s when Cat says she hit rock bottom and knew she had to do something about it.

In BBC Scotland’s Bothy Life, she talks about how a basic cabin in the Highlands gave her time to take stock and build the confidence to tackle her demons.

“At first when I was young it was Buckfast I drank, and then I used to take ecstacy but I was always drinking. I think I started drinking when I was about 11 or 12 and it just escalated. I didn’t realise I had a problem until I was about 16,” she says.

“I was wanting to drink when I was going to school and doing my exams.”

As the years went on her drinking got heavier.

“I was on probation because I was in and out of trouble, I’d be waking up in a police station and not knowing what I had done. I told my probation officer I needed help. It was the first time I ever admitted I needed help.

“When I look back now, it’s quite scary. I put myself in so many dodgy situations. I’d wake up somewhere and not know one person in the house. It was just all for the next drink.”

After her mum, who is also an alcoholic, was seriously ill last year, Cat decided to take action. She applied for a residential rehab place at the Turning Point Scotland 218 project, which offers counselling, addiction work, one-to-one mentoring and aftercare to help women from reoffending.

Tragedy struck when during the nine-month wait to go in, her brother George died from the effects of alcoholism.

“We’ve never really had a family home. My mum has been drinking since I was quite young. I’ve always been with my mum, I’m the youngest of five. I’ve seen her go through bad relationships and drinking is my coping mechanism,” she says.

“When I carried my brother’s coffin, I knew: I need to do this, I need to give up.

“I was under five stones when I went into 218, I was in a terrible state. I was just killing myself. There I learned a lot about myself and my addiction. They gave me the tools but I had to use them.”

It was at 218 she learned about the outdoor courses and development training offered at Adventure Scotland – and the joy of bothy life.

“Getting out of Glasgow into a different environment … sometimes it’s only half an hour away on a train but it’s another world. It’s so peaceful,” she says.

“With Venture Scotland you meet new people and learn new things. It can change a young person’s life.

“I love Applecross, up in the Highlands. And I climbed Ben A’an recently. You’re always doing something. We play games, so you’re team building and learning to trust people. When you’re doing belaying, for example, you’re trusting someone with your life.”

Now Cat has been asked to mentor vulnerable women and has recently returned from playing in the homeless world cup in Amsterdam where she met Hollywood actor Colin Farrell and the Celtic team.

“For me to be sitting here today, nine months sober, is beyond me. I’m loving every minute of it,” she says. “Nine months ago I wouldn’t have been able to dress myself in clean clothes, that’s how bad I was. I could never have dreamed of doing things like this.”

She plans to go to college next year to get the qualifications to be an outdoor course leader.

Dealing with the past has helped Cat moved on. She says she has lost so many people to alcoholism, she had to break the cycle. No one is more proud of her than her sister Marie Anne.

“Don’t get me wrong, some mornings I wake up and think, ‘Oh God.’ But then I tell myself it’s going to be a good day. It is what you make it.”

Bothy Life, BBC Two Scotland, December 9, 9pm