Derwentwater Hostel (Barrow House) has been in continuous use as a hostel since 1961, but we still managed to have lots of firsts in 2015, from pig nuts to paramotors.
We started the year at Derwentwater Hostel with our first open day for Cumbrian teachers, and this generated several more firsts throughout the year, including fire-making in the grounds with the National Trust, foraging for pig nuts in our meadow with Classrooms in the Forest, and visiting Low Bridge End Farm and Thirlmere Reservoir to explore water management and extreme weather. All of these school group residentials were subsidised by the DIH Fund, some for the first time.
Derwentwater Hostel firsts from our guests.
Our guests also introduced several firsts, often related to technological developments, such as the first paramotor launch from the grounds, the first contactless payment by mobile phone, and the first camera footage of the hostel by drone. And during October half term they created the first poetry trail in our grounds.
Derwentwater Hostel firsts connected to tradition and heritage.
Some of our firsts were connected to tradition and heritage. We hosted our first mess dinner, for the Fleetwood College Naval Cadets, and, thanks to the daughter of a former Barrow House parlour maid, we saw several documents from 1920s and 1930s Barrow House for the first time. We now have a list of parlour maid duties from 1929, some of which resemble our tasks today, and a leaflet from 1931, when Barrow House was briefly a YHA hostel, stating clearly ‘No intoxicants allowed’!
We were very fortunate to have lots of great volunteers and guests in 2015, from all over the world, and it was particularly interesting to have volunteers from Hungary and Italy for the first time. The photo shows our Italian and Hungarian volunteers (on the right) from 2015, with Nicola our staff member, on top of Cat Bells.
First storm damage at Derwentwater Hostel.
Unfortunately we also experienced our first major storm damage, in December 2015. The photo at the top of this blog shows our waterfall in December – full of rain. Derwentwater Hostel staff, volunteers, and contractors have done a wonderful recovery job, and we were open for business, cleaner than ever, from late January 2016. Please come and visit us and show your support for other local businesses in Cumbria. Can you create some new experiences for us in 2016?!