These barns provides basic rural accommodation, converted from traditional stone barns once used to store hay and house livestock. They are sometimes called a stone tent. There is no bedding and sometimes only a hard sleeping shelf. There usually water and a toilet, a table and benches, and a safe area for you to use your camping stove. Some barns have mattresses to sleep on, others just a sleeping shelf for you to lay your own camping mat on. Some have a wood burning stove to gather around in the evening.
A bothy is a Scottish camping barn or Stone Tent and the term Bothy has been taken up by the National Trust in England to describe their most basic accommodation. Traditionally bothies are rural accommodation in Scotland originally used to shelter shepherds or fishermen and adopted by mountaineers in more recent years.
Most barns are priced at around £10 a per person per night. They offer a memorable way of staying within some stunning scenery and are a great alternative to camping with a roof over your head if it rains. The most developed bothies and camping barns have mattresses or bunks, showers and cooking facilities, but many do not. They are very rural and sometime so remote they have no electricity. Aimed at the walker who might walk from barn to barn, these stone tents are often used by an outdoor groups and because they are small (from 4 beds) and away from traffic they can be fun for families.
Don’t forget if you plan to stay in a camping barn or bothy that you will definitely need to bring your own sleeping bag (sometimes sleeping mat) and usually your own cooking equipment including a camp stove, cutlery and plates. Some barns and bothies don’t have running water so you may need a water container too. You will always need warm clothes, walking boots and a torch.
Our camping barns and bothies are in the most amazing, remote spots. They are a fantastic opportunity to stay in some of the UK’s most beautiful areas often under dark skies and far from the hustle and bustle of modern life!
YHA Camping Barns in England & Wales
Camping Barns were originally the idea of the Youth Hostel Association, although they have always been owned and run independently. They were created to provided shelter for walkers and cyclists and often filled the gaps left by the selling of rural YHA hostels. The YHA has been shedding their supported camping barns for over ten years and in 2017 they stopped supporting all the barns, expect for the two properties they owned themselves. This was part of a wider closure of rural accommodation which has been taking place over a number of years including YHA hostels and bunkhouses . Taddington Camping barn has closed down but it is great to know that for most camping barns this is not the end of the story and they are continuing to provide simple accommodation as part of the Independent Hostels network.
Lakeland Camping Barns
Around 10 years ago a group of YHA camping barns in the Lake District joined together to form a local marketing group, Lakeland Camping Barns. Moving away from the services provided by the YHA, Lakeland Barns produced their own marketing and online booking system. It has been a story of great success.
Lakeland Barns have worked with the Independent Hostels network for many years, sometimes sharing stands at shows and festivals. Their member barns are all shown on the map above.
YHA Barns open and welcoming guests
You may have heard that the YHA closed all their camping barns and some simple hostels in spring 2017. However the good news is that many of these privately owned barns and hostels remain open and welcoming guests as independent establishments.
In recent years the Youth Hostel Association have changed their century old charitable aim “To help all, especially young people of limited means, to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside” by adding the amendment “and appreciation of the cultural values of towns and cities”. This has been reflected by the sale of many of the Youth Hostel Associations small rural hostels and their investment in large hostels in the cities.
Not to be deterred by the YHA’s latest shedding of their smallest and most rural accommodation, the farmers and charities who own these basic hostels and camping barns have made the decision to continue welcoming guests under the umbrella of the Independent Hostels network. The Independent Hostels network is now more extensive than the YHA, with 403 hostels and bunkhouses in England, Wales and Scotland. We will be working hard to let the public know that these camping barns and simple hostels are still open and will be welcoming guests far into the future. A full list of the camping barns open and in the Independent Hostels network can be seen above.
Included in the list of simple accommodation let-go by the YHA in 2017 is the Elenydd Hostels, Tyn Cornel and Dolgoch, both of which are remaining open. These were originally owned by the YHA and rescued form closure by a Trust set up to preserve these much loved simple hostels. Puttenham Camping Barn is a also remaining open. It was similarly set up by a local Trust wishing to provide economical access to the glorious Surrey countryside. The farm barns: Northcombe Camping Barns, Edale Camping Barn, Alstonefield Camping Barn all continuing to remain open and welcoming guests. Only Taddingon has decided to close after losing support from the YHA .
If you enjoy using simple rural accommodation and would like to see these barns flourish outside of the YHA, please spread the news that they remain open. Look out for our posts on social media and share them with your friends. If you post on outdoor sites or have a website of your own, please add the a link to this page to help others find these camping barns.