Many of us remember sweeping the floors on visits to youth hostels, but behind the communal chores we all enjoyed grumbling about lay a laudable ethos: ‘To help all, especially young people of limited means, to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside, particularly by providing hostels... for them in their travels, and thus to promote health, rest and education.’
The hostel idea had begun in Germany and its UK start was less than auspicious. The first one opened at Llanrwst in North Wales in 1930, but closed within a year because the local farmer ‘saw no sin in mixing manure with the drinking water.’ By the end of 1931, though, 73 hostels were open – two of which, Idwal Cottage and Street, you can still stay at – and by 1939 there were 297 across England and Wales. And the association always had an affection for walkers. Its first president was G.M. Trevelyan who famously said, ‘I have two doctors, my left leg and my right’, and for years the handbook stated that: ‘Hostels are intended for Members when walking or cycling, and are not open to motorists or motor-cyclists.’
Times have moved on – you can now drive too a hostel – but many of the more than 200 hostels stels across Britain are in exceptional locations cations for walkers, where you can snooze inn some of Britain’s most inspiring views for less ss than £15 a night. Our all-time favourites includeclude Black Sail in Cumbria’s Ennerdale, Pwllwll Deri on a lonely Pembrokeshire clifftop andd the eco-hostel on the shore of Loch Ossianssian on wildest Rannoch Moor.
More info: See www.yha.org.uk and www.
syha.org.uk ha.org.uk Above: Priceless views for a few pounds a night at Pwll Deri. Right: A pink triangle on the map and a green one on the hostel door.