About Sam Dalley

Editor of the Independent Hostel Guide
Llanfyllin lonely tree sign close to llanfyllin Workhouse Bunkhouse

A story of a local landmark and the attempt to save it.  The Lonely Tree was an iconic part of the community and the fact it was horizontal was not stopping anyone!  It was entered into the competition to be Welsh Tree of the Year in the October after it blew over, and won! Then in 2015 it was entered into the European Tree of the year competition.  This is a story of community endeavour, tenacity and wishful thinking.   It only needs a Hollywood ending to finish the tale.  

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The Lonely Tree of Llanfyllin

Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival

The Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival runs from 19th May until 3rd June 2018 and offers 100 walks over 16 days in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The Wolds are one of the driest areas in the UK, with a golden rolling landscape of easy gradients and wide skies with stunning views.  So if you enjoy walking the Lincolnshire Walking Festival is an  ideal way to explore and discover what Lincolnshire has to offer.

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Lincolnshire Wolds walking festival spring fields

Why you should Book Direct

We all go to booking sites for accommodation, however I add another step and I think you should too…   I use the booking sites to find suitable available accommodation, then I google the accommodations name, look past all the Ads and I place my booking direct. This has led to some startling results over the years. 

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why should i book direct

Tip, the brave little collie, and her 15 week vigil, on bleak Howden Moor

Here is the story of Tip the dog, who stayed for 104 days with the frozen corpse of her master on the hills above the Derwent Dams. Joseph Tagg, the shepherd who got caught out on the moors, used to stay occasionally in a lean-to at the end of the old barn on Lockerbrook Farm. The barn was demolished in the 1970s, but last month one of Lockerbrook’s volunteers rescued a little stone drinking trough and returned it to Lockerbrook to mark the 65th anniversary of the discovery Tip alive and by her masters side. If you bring a group to stay at Lockerbrook Outdoor Centre you can visit Tips grave and sleep in a room named after the loyal collie.

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Lockerbrook Farm and the memorial to Tip the loyal collie on Howden Moor

Gower Peninsula, Beaches and Castles

The Gower Peninsula juts out of the south Wales coastline, westwards from Swansea. It was the very first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is well know for the many beaches along its coastline. I have also discovered a handful of glorious castles , much less well known, but brilliantly adapted for visitors. This combination of good facilities and emptiness make these castles feel like a personal discovery, set as they are in atmospheric rural locations.

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Rhossili Bunkhouse Gower Beaches

North Norfolk Coast in a self catering bunkhouse

The North Norfolk Coast belongs to the sky. It is filled with coastal wildlife, salt mashes and picaresque villages with ancient roots. There are stunning seascapes, seaside towns and not much evidence of the hurley burly of modern life. That is why Deepdale is such a useful find, unusual in rural North Norfolk, there is tourist information, shopping with great food available, camping and hostel accommodation all in the authentic relaxed village of Deepdale.

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Deepdale Granary

Wildlife at the Ross of Mull

Mull is a Hebridean island with few settlements and large areas of open wilderness populated by both rare and common wildlife.  During our few winter days on the island we spotted Otters playing in the bright waters of a sea loch, Whooper Swans, Deer, a Hen Harrier, and a Heron, not to mention the free roaming sheep and Hairy Coos.

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whooper swans wildlife on mull

Bretton Hostel and the Plague village of Eyam

In 1660 the village of Eyam was stuck by the plague and went into isolation. When the plague was at its height villagers buried their dead in the gardens of their cottages and four of these grave remain at Bretton Hostel, surrounded by the meadows and moors of the dark peak. Bretton Hostel and the plague village of Eyam are a ready made holiday, with a world of interest and education in the very fabric of the village, gorgeous countryside to explore and comfortable self-catering accommodation.

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Eyam the Plague Village

Woodys Top and the history of walking in the Lincolnshire Wolds

I first heard of the Lincolnshire Wolds as a member of the YHA, hearing talk of the iconic Woodys Top Youth Hostel. It took another 20 year to get around to visiting this quiet and beautiful area, by which time Woodys Top hostel had closed. However I soon found, hidden amidst the beautiful countryside, other remnants from the iconic era of rambling that founded the YHA.

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Walking in the Lincolnshire Wolds history

The Wicked Ways of the OTA’s

If I could only say one thing in this blog, I would say beware of booking.com.  Be aware that the minute you list a single bed with them, direct bookings from returning guests and word of mouth referrals will start to come to via booking.com.  You lose 15% and booking.com gets the upper hand.   

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Why not to book on booking.com

South Lincolnshire Walking Festival

Following the successful Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival this spring,  it’s now time to get your boots on for the return of the popular South Lincolnshire Walking Festival in October.

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Independent Hostels Stand at the Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival

Breakfast at Corran House

Stopping off overnight at Corran House Hostel, on my way to the Isles, it struck me what a simple solution they provide for breakfast, (read on to find out more).  Part of a grand Victorian terrace on Oban’s waterfront, Corran House provides great value accommodation in private and shared rooms.

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breakfast kitchen at corran house hostel

Two Family Holiday – at Tarset Tor Bothies

On a recent visit to Tarset Tor Bunkhouse and Bothies in Northumberland, I realised what a hidden asset a bothy at Tarset Tor is for two families who like to holiday together.  Anyone who has ever had kids will know that the best times are had when the children have play mates and the adults can relax.

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tarset tor bothy ideal for family holidays

Tremadog, Porthmadog and the Traeth Mawr Estuary

Tremadog, Porthmadog and the Traeth Mawr Estuary are inextricably bound up with the 18th Century developments of James Maddock, Lawrence of Arabia and a legendary Welsh prince. Find out more about the legends and history of Wales.

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tremadog nr porthmadog

Skiddaw House – Music on the Mountain

I had seen maps of Skiddaw Mountain showing the lonely Skiddaw House 1500m up on the mountainside miles from any road. I have admired photos of this old keepers house it its isolation but I was still unprepared for my first sighting of it.

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Skiddaw House Eco Hostel

Dolgoch Hostel family holiday

Dolgoch has been owned and run by the Elenydd Hostels Trust since 2007 and in that time many improvements have been made; the gas lighting has been replaced by LED lighting powered by solar panels,  the new hot showers are similarly powered by solar panels. The roof was replaced and the track to the hostel from the road  was resurfaced. Self contained less able accommodation has been installed. Here is the story of Katy Cliffe’s family holiday at Dolgoch in May 2017.

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Family Meal at Dolgoch Hostel

Ty’n Cornel Hostel – A YHA retrospective

Spread the word, tell everyone you know, the story of these valiant little hostels, still battling on, to provide peace and space for those who need it. Run by volunteers and compelled to leave the YHA, read the history of these two farmhouse hostels in the Elenyedd Wilderness. Then come to visit, bring your friends and your family’s and come to the wild Welsh wilderness.

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Yorkshire Dales Caving Holiday

I really enjoyed my first time caving! We went to Long Churn Caves in the Yorkshire Dales. I had no idea of the existence of this whole underground world.

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yorkshire-dales-caving

Kirkby Stephen Walking Holiday

Surrounded by excellent hiking country, the small market town of Kirkby Stephen in the Upper Eden Valley made the perfect base for a five-night hill-walking break.

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kirkby stephen clog walkers