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Stay near a Castle : Accommodation in Hostels and Bunkhouses

Who doesn’t love a castle? Their antiquity seems to have a power over us and draws us to them.  The UK is covered with castles in all shapes and sizes and there are a surprising number of independent hostels and bunkhouses within walking distance or a castle. Some, like Totters in Caernarfon are next door, nestling in the shadows of the historic castle walls,  while Craig Y Nos Castle in the Brecon Beacons has a hostel in its grounds.



Settle to Carlisle : Bunkhouses and Hostels

Settle to Carlisle country is also a paradise for walkers with numerous walks from the various stations along the route. What fun to combine journeys on this stunning railway with a walking holiday or mini-break.  There is also the annual Settle to Carlisle Ride2Stride Walking and Music Festival. Taking place each Spring, it is a week long festival of walks, talks and music along the Settle to Carlisle line.  Growing in popularity with visitors from the far corners of the world, it was listed in the top 10 walking festivals by The Telegraph in 2017.

There are independent hostels and bunkhouses all along the route of the Settle to Carlisle line.  The map below shows you where they all are and further down you will find each individual accommodation provider is listed with a brief description. Providing flexible and great value self-catering accommodation with no minimum length of stay, Independent Hostels have long been firm favourites with so many outdoor enthusiasts. From small and simple camping barns to large and very well appointed hostels there is something for everybody and every budget.


The Settle-Carlisle Walking & Music Festival

30th April to 6th May 2019

ride2stride is a festival of walks, talks and music along the fabulous Settle-Carlisle railway line.

It’s a week long celebration of the wonderful landscape and culture of the western Dales and Eden Valley.

The festival is made up of lots of events and activities and things will be happening along the length of the line. Walks will be led from stations by experienced walk leaders. Speakers will share their local knowledge and love of the area, and the pubs will be buzzing with music and song.

ride2stride is for everyone who loves the Yorkshire Dales. With independent hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns all along the route there’s no reason not to treat yourself to a few days of great walking, wonderful  music and stunning scenery in the company of like minded people. For more information go to the ride2stride website.

Land’s End to John O Groats Walk Route : Hostels and Bunkhouses

Land’s End to John O’ Groats Walk

There are many many route options to take taking on the Land’s End to John O’ Groats walk (LEJOG)  (or indeed the other way- JOGLE). We particularly like the route which links a number of well known long distance trails from Land’s End to John O’ Groats.  Other options are available on the LDWA website.

England- Land’s End to The end of the Pennine Way

Starting with the Land’s End Trail or the Mary Michael Pilgrim’s Way walkers can head up the spine of Cornwall, go over or around Dartmoor and head up through Devon and Somerset until they meet the Somerset Way in Glastonbury. From Bath the Cotswold Way takes the walker all the way to just east of Gloucester.  On the west of the city is the Severn Way which can be walked all the way to Coalport near Iron Bridge where it meets the Sebrina Way Long Distance bridle path. The Sebrina Way crosses the Trent Valley and heads up into the Southern Peak District.  At Alstonefield it comes close to the Limestone Way and walkers can join this 60 mile route which takes them through the heart of the White Peak all the way to Castleton.  From Castleton it is not a long walk over the hill to Edale and the start of the Pennine Way.    This iconic route, the first National Trail, takes the walker the 251 miles through the Pennine hills to Kirk Yetholm on the Scottish Border.  Here it joins the Scottish National Trail.

Scotland- Kirk Yetholm to John O’ Groats

The Scottish National Trail takes the walker through the borders, visits Edinburgh and follows the great canals through Falkirk and North of Glasgow.  Where it meets the West Highland Way.  Here the walker can choose to head up the West Highland way to Fort William and then take the Great Glen Way to Inverness.  Alternatively stay on the the Scottish National Trail as it It heads up through the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, across to the Cairngorms and meets the Great Glen Way at Kingussie (however this route may require camping in the Cairngorms). Following the Great Glen past Loch Ness to Inverness the walker will pass stunning scenery.  From Inverness the last stage of the Land’s End to John O’ Groats walk route can be followed using the John O’ Groats Trail which skirts the coast all the way to the tip of mainland Britain.  Just 5 miles west of  the historic end point is BB’s Bunkhouse where you will be made more than welcome after your trip.  The route described is dotted with Independent Hostels along the route.  It is possible to walk the whole Land’s End to John O’ Groats walk route using independent hostels, YHAs and the occasional B&B with the exception of the Scottish National Trail through the Cairngorms which may require a tent.  We would love to hear if you have tried this Land’s End to John O’ Groats walk route or walked another route (either LEJOG or JOGLE) using independent hostels.  Please get in touch with your suggestions so we can update this page

Walker Photo at top of page ©VisitBritain-Stephen-Spraggon

Land’s End to John O’ Groats to Land’s End Cycle Route (LEJOG or JOGLE): Independent Hostel Accommodation

Land’s End to John O’Groats to Land’s End

There are many ways to cycle the Land’s End to John O’ Groats (LEJOG) or indeed the John O’ Groats to Land’s End (JOGLE) route depending on time available and ability of the riders.  It is possible to do the route using a guide or put together your own route.  Sustrans provides invaluable maps for its NCN routes which can be connected together from Lands End to John O Groats.  We have created a 14 day route using hostel accommodation as over night stops. We have also created a 9 day route. All of the hostels on this route welcome cyclists and all a few (*) have covered bike storage.  All but two provide bedding and at these bedding can be hired (Haye Farm) or requested (Marthrown of Mabie). All provide evening meals or have a pub or restaurant within walking distance and most provide breakfast – where breakfast is not provided most are in a town or village where provisions can be found easily. Independent Hostels are a great choice for accommodation on the LEJOG route as they allow individuals to stay for one night only.  They are sure to make any traveller welcome.

We would love to hear your opinions on these routes. We haven’t cycle this route ourselves so please make sure you research them yourselves and if you are up for the challenge let us know and we will help you arrange accommodation.

We would love to hear your opinions on these routes.
Would they work? have you tried them? Can you suggest alternatives using Independent Hostels.

Please Get In Touch with your comments and we will update this page.

Land’s End To John O’ Groats to Land’s End LEJOG or JOGLE :14 days Cycling Route (max number of miles per day 104)

Day 1 Lands End Hostel and B&B to Edens Yard Backpackers* (59 miles)
Day 2 Eden’s Yard to Sparrowhawk Backpackers or Blytheswood Hostel (65 miles/69miles)
Day 3 Sparrowhawk Hostel/Blytheswood Hostel to Bristol Backpackers Hostel or The Bristol Wing (103 miles/99 miles)
Day 4 Bristol to Haye Farm Sleeping Barn (89 miles)
Day 5 Haye Farm to Sheen Bunkhouse or Roaches Bunkhouse, Staffordshire.(84 miles/76 miles)
Day 6 Sheen Bunkhouse or Roaches Bunkhouse  to Hebden Bridge Hostel* (65 miles/59 miles)
Day 7 Hebden Bridge to Wayfarers Independent Hostel or Carlisle City Hostel (88 miles/112 miles)
Day 8 Penrith/Carlisle to Marthrown of Mabie Bunkhouse*, Dumfries (67 miles /45 miles)
Day 9 Marthrown to Wee Row Hostel, New Lanark or Cleikum Mill Lodge, Innerleithin (65 miles/60 miles)
Day 10 Wee Row Hostel/Cleikum Mill to Callander Hostel (63 miles/ 94 miles)
Day 11 Callander Hostel to Fort William Backpackers (82 miles)
Day 12 Fort William to Loch Ness Backpackers Lodge or Morags Lodge Loch Ness (49 miles/ 32 miles)
Day 13 Loch Ness/Morag’s Lodge to Helmsdale Hostel (87 miles/104 miles)
Day 14 Helmsdale to John O’Groats (stay at BBs Bunkhouse at East Mey) (53 miles + 5.5 miles to BB’s Bunkhouse)

Land’s End to John O’ Groats to Land’s End LEJOG or JOGLE:  9 day Route (max miles per day 166)

Day 1 Lands End Hostel and B&B to Sparrowhawk Backpackers (124 miles)
Day 2 Sparrowhawk to Bristol Backpackers Hostel or The Bristol Wing (103 miles)
Day 3 Bristol to Sheen Bunkhouse (166 miles) (this can be split at Haye Farm Sleeping Barn)
Day 4 Sheen Bunkhouse to Ingleton Yha Greta Tower (103 miles)
Day 5 Ingelton to Carlisle City Hostel (66.3 miles)
Day 6 Carlisle to Wee Row Hostel (80.3 miles)
Day 7 Wee Row  to Comrie Croft or Pitlochry Backpackers Hotel (71miles/98miles)
Day 8 Comrie Croft/Pitlochry to Inverness Student Hotel(130 miles/92.1 miles)
Day 9 Inverness Student Hotel to John O Groats (164 miles via Route 1 or 126 miles via A9) + 5 miles to BBs Bunkhouse)

If you choose the longer NCN 1 route between Inverness and John O’ Groats there are options to break your journey at Bunkhouse @ Invershin (56 miles), Kyle Of Tongue Hostel (103 miles) or Sandra’s Hostel (143 miles).

A LEJOG East Coast Alternative Route

Sheen Bunkhouse to Hull Trinity Backpackers (105 miles)
Hull Trinity Backpackers to Scarborough Youth Hostel or Cote Ghyll Mill (50 miles/79 miles)
Scarborough Hostel to Calico Barn Bunkbarn (121 miles) or Cote Ghyll Mill to Calico Barn Bunkbarn or Alnwick Youth Hostel (80 miles/96 miles)
Calico Barn to Cleikum Mill Lodge (90 miles)or Seahouses (Seahouses Hostel or Springhill Bunkhouse)(32 miles)  or Edinburgh (Euro Hostel Edinburgh Halls summer only)(120 miles)
Seahouses to Edinburgh (86 miles)
Or Alnwick Hostel to Cleikum Mill Lodge (90 miles) or Edinburgh (Euro Hostel Edinburgh Halls summer only)(92 miles)
Edinburgh to Comrie Croft (72 miles) or Pitlochry Backpackers Hotel (75 miles) or Callander Hostel (64 miles)

The Scottish National Trail: Hostel and Bunkhouse accommodation

The Scottish National Trail weaves its way through Scotland covering 537 miles (864 km) of the most varied and spectacular landscapes certainly in Great Britain and arguably in the world. The Scottish National Trail was devised by Cameron McNeish and launched in 2012.  Starting in Kirk Yetholm the trail connects with the Pennine Way creating an even more massive challenge for those attempting both routes!  McNeish’s vision has created a trail that encompasses many of Scotland’s defining features, it goes through the centre of Edinburgh, the country’s capital, runs alongside famous rivers such as the Tweed to Peebles, takes in the Union canal to the incredible Falkirk Wheel and  the Forth & Clyde canal just north of Glasgow as well as a short section of the Caledonian Canal north of Invergarry.  The route also makes sure the walker visits both of Scotland’s National Parks: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms.

In parts The Scottish National Trail follows a number of existing long distance routes starting with the St Cuthberts Way and including; The West Highland Way to Drymen, The Rob Roy Way to Callander, a short section of the Great Glen Way and the Cape Wrath trail.  As a result some sections are well way marked but it is recommended that hikers obtain the guides to the route to ensure they are going the correct way. Further route details are available here and on the LDWA website. The level of difficulty of the route does vary from the gentle lowlands and canal towpath sections in the south to mountain walking (mostly) in the north. The sections through the Cairngorms  and the Cape Wrath trail require the hiker to carry all provisions including accommodation but much of the rest of the route can be walked using independent hostel accommodation coupled with SYHA or B&Bs.  It is estimated that it would take approximately 5 weeks to walk the whole length of the route but many have done it in sections over a number of years.

Accommodation for School Groups: Hostels and Bunkhouses

Accommodation for School Groups

Whether you are looking for somewhere to stay in one of our major cities or for accommodation with outdoor activities and instruction, Independent Hostels provide perfect accommodation for school groups.  The hostels and bunkhouses listed on this page welcome school groups of all shapes and sizes many specialising in providing accommodation for school trips.  So if you are looking for outdoor activities in Wales, or accommodation for school residentials in a UK city, looking on this page is a great choice.

You can contact suitable hostels using the contact forms on the hostel pages or by doing a group accommodation request.

children enjoying thier accommodation for school residentials

Accommodation for Schools in British Cities

For school trips to cities we have a number of hostels in most major cities, including London, which welcome school groups.  These are all centrally located within easy walking distance of museums, theatres, shops and many other attractions

Our hostels and bunkhouses are experienced in providing accommodation for school residentials and they can help you with such matters as health and safety, safeguarding and booking  appropriate outdoor activity instruction.

LOTC accreditation

Some of the accommodation has LOTC accreditation and are experts for providing  “Learning Outside the Classroom”.   An example of these are Ardenbeg Bunkhouse, Hagg Farm Outdoor Education Centre, the John Hunt Centre,  Mount Cook Adventure Centre and  Thornbridge Outdoors.

Many of the hostels and bunkhouses that provide accommodation for school groups have classrooms on site so you can consolidate field trip learning. Many also have all the technology required to run a lesson but please talk to your chosen hostel about this to ensure you know what is available.

Most of our hostel and bunkhouse accommodation has self catering kitchens so you can even bring your own cook or allow older children to cater for you if you wish.  Many also provide catered options including packed lunches, hearty breakfasts and evening meals.  Once again please check with the individuals hostels to be sure that they meet your requirements.

Accommodation for Schools in the National Parks.

If you are looking for outdoor activities for your school group in North Wales, The Peak District, The Lakes or the Highlands of Scotland then you will find a good choice  of  hostels providing activities. Independent hostels and bunkhouses are also often chosen for geography or geology  field trips  as they can be found in locations that offer your school group easy access to interesting geology, geography and cities to cover all of the curriculum.  We also have accommodation for school groups in less well know parts of the country such as North Lincolnshire and rural Herefordshire  as well as coastal locations and even one on Brownsea Island in Dorset!


Horse B&B and Riding Holidays: Self catering accommodation

Hostels  for horse riding holidays

A number of independent hostels are geared up for  horse riding holidays.  Whether you want to take your own horse on holiday with you (horse B & B) and ride out from the hostel or you want to book onto organised treks or have riding lessons on the centres own horses,  one of the hostels above will be able to help.

Enjoying the view! Riders savouring their riding holiday at Rooking House Camping Barn, near Ullswater
Enjoying the view! Riders savouring their horse riding holiday at Rookin House Camping Barn, near Ullswater


Take your horse on holiday: Horse B & B

Is the perfect holiday for you one where you take your horse on holiday with you?  Where you and your horse travel to a different part of the country to explore the local bridleways, off road tracks,  country lanes, open moorland and village pubs?  Where you have great value self catering accommodation with horse B & B on site?  Perhaps you have a group of horsey friends who would love to join you on your horse riding holiday.

If that’s the case and you fancy going to Wales, take a look at Mid Wales Bunkhouse, Conwy Valley Backpackers Barn, Clyngwyn Bunkhouse (Brecon Beacons) or Springhill Farm Bunkhouse ( north Welsh Borders).

horse B&B at mid wales bunkhouse
Horse B&B at Mid Wales Bunkhouse

Mid Wales Bunkhouse has grazing and stabling for your horse or pony during  your stay in the bunkhouse.  The bunkhouse has a self catering kitchen and meals can be provided on request.   Explore the wild and dramatic Mid Wales countryside with routes available from the gates, from an hour’s hack to whole day circular picnic rides.   Your hosts at Mid Wales Bunkhouse can offer expertise and local knowledge to help plan rides.   On request they may also accompany you on their own pure bred fell ponies so that you get to see the very best that the area has to offer.  Parking is available for trailers and small horse boxes.

Exciting Countryside around Mid Wale Bunkhouse Horse B&B
Exciting Countryside around Mid Wales Bunkhouse Horse B&B

If you would prefer  a riding holiday  with your horse right on the The South Downs Way, a beautiful 161km bridleway stretching from Winchester to Easbourne, then the South Downs Bunkhouse is your perfect horse holiday destination. Or perhaps you are drawn to the fantastic riding on the Long Mynd in Shropshire.  In which case  your group of riders and horses should turn to Womerton Farm Bunkhouse for your dream horse holiday.

If its Hadrians Wall you would like to explore on your horse then contact Slack House Farm for more details.

A riding holiday group at Springhill Farm Bunkhouse. Use their horses or book horse B & B for your own horse
A riding holiday group at Springhill Farm Bunkhouse. Use their horses or book horse B & B for your own horse

A horse holiday without your own horse: Stay at a hostel with its own equestrain centre.

If you want a riding holiday but don’t have your own horse, or don’t want to bring your own horse on holiday but still want to ride, then staying at a hostel on an equestrian centre will be the perfect solution. You can use the equestrian centre’s own horses and book onto their organised activities; trail rides, treks or lessons. The perfect solution for a great horse holiday without your own horse.

Springhill Farm on the north Welsh Borders is a BHS  (British Horse Society) approved equestrian centre offering trekking across some of the country’s most fantastic riding areas.  Or if you prefer you can have  flat or jumping lessons as well as, or instead of the trail rides.  Alternatively, on a small hill farm in  Brecon Beacons National Park, there is Tregoyd Mountain Riders. Also BHS approved, Tregoyd Mountain Riders offers trekking, trail riding and riding lessons.  The on site bunkhouse, Cadarn Bunkhouse, offers great value accommodation for your group of riders.

A snack and a rest after the morning's horse holiday adventures.
A snack and a rest after the morning’s horse holiday adventures from Springhill Farm.

If you would rather ride in the Lake District, look no further than Rookin House Farm near Ullswater.  With three camping barn units for your accommodation, the Rookin House Equestrian Centre offers trekking, lessons and two day long riding adventures for the more experienced riders.

In the Lincolnshire Wolds there’s Brook House Barn, also BHS approved, which offers hacking and lessons.  They have a luxury hostel and a two bed cottage for your perfect horse holiday.

All the accommodation at these equestrian centres is self catering, offers great value for money, has no minimum length of stay and is great for groups.

Photos taken of horse riding holidays from:  Springhill Farm, Mid Wales Bunkhouse and Rookin House Camping Barn

Dartmoor National Park & Exmoor National Park: Hostel and Bunkhouse accommodation

The west country has two lovely National Parks in the form of Dartmoor National Park and Exmoor National Park.  Both are famous for their ponies which roam wild on the moorland areas.  Although smaller than other UK national Parks these two still pack a punch and are very much worth a visit.

Dartmoor National Park, is wholly in Devon and is famous for it’s granite tors, bronze age stone circles and areas of mystery. The mixture of wide open moorlands and deep river valleys results in a variety of habitats and thus a rich wildlife making the area a nature watcher’s paradise. The moor is dotted with market towns and medieval villages which contrast with the wilds of the moorland habitat surrounding them. Dartmoor prison is a famous landmark as well as Hay Tor a granite outcrop which offers spectacular views over the National Park and the south Devon Coast.

Exmoor National Park is partially in Devon and mostly in Somerset.  It has a stunning coast line on the Bristol Channel. The small towns on Ilfracombe and Minehead sit right on the edge of the National Park and the coast has a number of National Trust properties which are open to the public.  Exmoor National Park offers the visitor  great cycling and walking within it’s stunning woodlands, beautiful moors. Rock pool lovers will be rewarded with stunning rock pools teaming with wildlife after Europes highest tides have receeded.  Exmoor boasts the longest wooded coast in the UK as well as England’s tallest tree and the highest seacliffs on the British Mainland.  You can explore Exmoor via the South West Coast Path which starts in Minehead or cross it on the Two Moors Way from Lynton. Exmoor National Park is also a dark skies reserve so perfect for stargazers who want to be guaranteed a properly dark sky.

Land’s End Trail and Mary Michael Pilgrim’s Way: Accommodation.

The Land’s End Trail and Mary Michael Pilgrim’s way are two great long distance walking routes which take walkers up the spine of the west country. Both begin at Land’s End and finish at Avebury but take in different parts of the area with the Mary Micheal Pilgrim’s way specialising in connecting significant Christian and Pre- Christian sites.

The Land’s End Trail is a great alternative for walking in the west country to the South West Coast Path.  Heading from Land’s End right up the spine of the west country it finishes in Avebury on Salisbury Plain.  The 303 mile route was conceived by local cornishman Hugh Miners in and developed and published by Robert Wicks, Robert Preston and Robin Menneer in the 1990s.  It is hard to find a published route now but there is a lot of information on the route on the land’s End Trail section of the Oliver’s Cornwall Website and on the Long Distance Walkers website.  The route takes the walker from Land’s End, via the Tinners Track over countride and the Camel Trail to Bodmin Moor.  It climbs “Brown Willy” Cornwall’s highest point with the Cornish section ending in Tavistock. The Land’s End to Tavistock section is over 13 stages of between 7 and 15 miles.  From Tavistock the Lands End trail crosses Dartmoor via a choice of high or low routes,  it then takes the Tarka Trail to southern Exmoor before crossing the Quantocks and Somerset Levels to Glastonbury. From then on the route crosses Pewsey Vale and Salisbury Plain until it finishes at Avebury.

The Mary Michael Pilgrim’s Way is a vision created by the Mary Micheal Pilgrim Way non profit organisation. The idea is to create a pilgrimage which connects significant Christian and Pre-Christian sites across the south of England from Land’s End in Cornwall to Norfolk.  So far the section from Land’s End to Avebury has been documented in two guidebooks available from the organisation’s website.  The section from Brenton (west Dartmoor) to Glastonbury has also been waymarked.  The Mary Michael Pilgrim’s Way takes a slightly more southern route than the Land’s End Trail at least until it gets to Dartmoor, it then skirts the northern edge of the moor before taking a more southern route again.  At Glastonbury the two routes cross and the Mary Michael Pilgrims way heads to Avebury via Shepton Mallet and Trowbridge.  Details of the full route are available on the LDWA website.

You can choose accommodation in  independent hostels on some of the sections of both routes.  Walkers can combine nights in independent hostels with camping or staying at YHA or B&Bs and can find more accommodation options in the Long Distance Walkers website.

The Limestone Way : Hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns.

With her walking shoes in her hands and her toes relishing the cool softness of the grass, my daughter walked the last few yards to the doors of Ilam Bunkhouse.  After dinner she sighed, “can I go to bed now?” and drifted off.

It had been lovely to walk the first day of The Limestone Way with her. A lively and inquisitive companion, but the miles had exhausted her. From Rocester in Staffordshire, the path follows easy miles first along the River Dove and then, climbing out of Ellaston. Snacking on the wild blackberries thick on the bushes, our breath was taken as we crested the ridge with stunning views on both sides. We nestled in the buttress roots of an ancient tree and ate our lunch in peaceful seclusion. It was only when we greeted an energetic walker coming the other way that we realised that we hadn’t seen a soul since pretty much the start. An impatience to move on picked us up.

Dropping down towards, and then crossing the A52 we passed into Derbyshire. We paused and quietly enjoyed the company of a small owl who seemed in no hurry to leave its perch right beside the track. We left the Limestone Way at the intriguing Coldwell Bridge, which seemed too grand and ornate to be merely the farm track bridge it is today. We wondered at its history.

It’s a short detour to Ilam from there, but that’s where our accommodation was. With my daughter safely in bed, I enjoyed the handover from swifts to bats as I sat and breathed in the wonderful, wonderful evening view.

Day 2 finds me walking alone. I picked the path up again at Thorpe and walked overland through the imposing old gates to Tissington Hall, and along The Avenue, a mature tree lined lane. Tissington village was lovely. Limestone cottages and a slightly self conscious attention to period detail. The Limestone Way crosses the cycle and footpath of The Tissington trail and drops steeply down and back up above Bletch Brook. As a drizzle fell, I gladly sheltered on a wizened stile and caught my breath.

I had chosen the Limestone Way as I’d crossed, and indeed followed, parts of it many times as I explored the hills around my home town of Matlock. I was in the process of rebuilding my strength and fitness after a bout of illness. The reasonable mile count and the relatively gentle hills of The Limestone Way seemed like the ideal next challenge.

Although some of the next stretch was road walking up a long slow hill, I was rewarded with a lunch break perched on a high limestone pavement. Away to the south I could see Carsington Water and the smooth grace of its wind farm. I counted five buzzards patrolling their various territories.

The descent from above Grangemill isn’t great, with the industrialised lanes and noise of the quarries, but at least it reflects the true nature of limestone country. I was grateful by now not to have to traverse the steep gorge of The Via Gellia. Instead the path takes a gentle climb up through the farms of Ible and then to Bonsall in its warm and peaceful valley.

On Day three I am in very familiar territory, crossing the moors above Bonsall. The rutted ground and pits of the old mine workings were thick with gorgeous wildflowers. My wife would know their names. Again, I considered the simple joy of a clear head and the steady pace of solitude had to be balanced against the lost opportunities to share sights like this.

Suddenly, the path emerged on the shoulder of the valley and skirts the pretty villages of Winster and Elton. It dove down a wooded lane before leading up once again towards the twin towers of Robin Hood’s Stride. A glorious tor of rock. when I have been here before, I’ve been with family, climbing and laughing and exploring its wrinkles. This time I am alone. Resting against the sun warmed rocks, a nap overtook me.

Some miles later, having skirted the woods of Harthill, I enter the edge of Youlgreave. It is a beautiful village with good pubs and small shops keeping the community vibrant. Here the River Bradford is dammed into a series of fish pools for The estate of Haddon Hall. I take off my boots and wade upstream for about a half mile. Too soon I have to climb out of the shaded valley and up onto the moor again. I held out hope that the signposted picnic area hard at the top of the climb might hold an itinerant ice cream van, sadly not.

The path snips the end off Lathkill Dale, giving me only a brief taste of it’s stark, arid beauty, before leading me to Monyash.

The early part of day 4 takes me along roads and lanes, and although they are quiet, it is not as easy on the feet as a grassed footpath. Despite a quick dive down into Miller’s Dale, the momentum is definitely uphill. Over the past four days, with all its climbs and drops, the trend has been to rise. Over day 4 this trend becomes very clear indeed. The thin soil and limestone outcrops are more pronounced here and despite the clear skies, the air is cooler. As I cross the moors above Peak Forest, I am, for the first time since I began, cold.

The final destination, the northern end of The Limestone Way, is at Castleton. You begin the descent slowly enough, but soon you are scrambling over an uneven descent of broken dry stream bed rocks. Down the crack of a gorge which slowly widens to show that you are above the precipitous cliffs of Peveril Castle. Down, down. Quickly, over just a mile or so, all the hard won miles and feet of altitude drop away. I passed day walkers and picnickers, carrying plastic bags of goodies, who have climbed up from the town. I found myself resenting their presence a bit. Soon I was under the shadow of the castle and then before I knew it I was at the foot of the long drop down, my legs readjusting to level ground. Castleton. I had completed the

Limestone Way. I was surprised that there were people, cars, bustle.

I stood alone under my rucksack, alone among these people who hadn’t shared the distance and the effort with me. I felt stronger and welled than I had for a long time.

Full details of the route can be found on the LDWA website.

Luxury Bunkhouses & Luxury Camping Barns: across England, Scotland and Wales

Luxury Bunkhouses and Luxury Camping Barns

Of course all the hostels and bunkhouses in the Independent Hostel Guide are lovely places to stay but some do go the extra mile to add a bit of luxury to your group holiday.  These luxury bunkhouses and luxury camping barns offer great value accommodation with added comfort.

Luxury Bunkhouses still have shared bedrooms, mostly with bunkbeds but they all have high quality mattresses, and will provide bed linen and in some cases even towels.

Many of our luxury bunkhouses and luxury camping barns have been purpose built meaning the architect and owners have been able to design in everything a group needs.

Many Luxury camping barns have en suite facilities but even where washing facilities are shared these are usually modern bathrooms with good quality hot showers and a few extras to make your stay that little bit special.

It is the communal areas where most luxury bunkhouses and luxury camping barns put in the extra comfort.  They have well decorated, modern and well equipped kitchens, large dining areas and sumptuous  soft furnishings in the sitting room.

Allendale bunkhouse has a lovely cosy sitting/dining area whilst Nidderdale Bunkhouse has a huge sitting room with TV, games or just a space to lounge around and read a book in!

Most luxury bunkhouses and luxury camping barns have entertainment such as TV systems and wifi and some even have well stocked games rooms.

Some of these luxury bunk barns have hot tubs! Imagine bubbling away with a nice glass of wine looking at the view over the fells from Howgills Barn outdoor hot-tub after a fantastic day’s walking in the Yorkshire Dales or soothing the stress away in The Sail Loft Bunkhouse’s wood powered hot tub on the Moray coast?!

So even if you are looking for group accommodation with an extra touch of luxury we have something for you in the Independent Hostel Guide!

IHUK : The UK’s network of independent hostels and bunkhouses

The IHUK Network

The IHUK network allows you to view independent hostels and bunkhouse accommodation in one place, so you can choose where to stay by location and facilities.  Once you have found your ideal hostel or bunkhouse this website passes you direct to the booking system of the hostel or bunkhouse ,allowing you to book direct with no fees charged to you or the accommodation owner.

ihuk at green man backpackers reception
Reception at Greenman Backpackers in Chepstow

IHUK is the largest network of hostels and bunkhouses in the UK.   With accommodation in over 400 locations, the IHUK network is larger then the Youth Hostel Association and Scottish Youth Hostel Association added together.

IHUK sign on Lodge Dinorwig


The History of Hostels and IHUK

Hostels – or, rather, youth hostels – were originally thought up by a German school teacher who saw the need for school children to have safe, affordable overnight accommodation, allowing them to travel and gain some experience of the world.  The first youth hostel – or Jugendherberge – was established in 1912 and the principle was quickly taken up in the UK.

Independent Youth Hostel  groups formed across the country and took up the challenged of providing  basic accommodation within reach of the UK’s industrial cites, for people who otherwise may not be able to experience travel and enjoy the countryside.   These were the first Independent youth hostels which soon came  together to form a youth hostel association.  Some of these first youth hostels are members of IHUK today.

IHUK sign on Thorney How Hostel
Thorney How, one of the first youth hostels in the UK

Just under a century after the first youth hostel was formed, the term Youth Hostel had become a brand, owned by one organisation.  Individuals and charities still wanted to provide hostel accommodation and in the late 1980’s the first bunkhouses and independent hostels were formed outside of the YHA.   The Independent Hostel Guide, the foundation of IHUK,  started to provide marketing for these independent hostels in 1993.

IHUK and YHA signs on skiddaw house
Skiddaw House, an independent hostel affiliated to the YHA

With the rise of  package holidays as people turned to Europe for their adventures,  the YHA stared to close down many of it rural unprofitable locations, selling properties, releasing leases and in some cases expelling independently run hostels from their brand.  Often these hostels were restarted or simple continued to provide accommodation as Independent Hostels and part of the IHUK network.

IHUK sign on Greenman Backpackers
Greenman Backpackers in Chepstow

The  hostels in IHUK  vary greatly: there are still those that belong to the Youth Hostels Association (around 5%), but also there are a growing number of  bunkhouses, backpackers, independent hostels and camping barns.   What the members of IHUK have in common is that they provide low-cost dormitory or private self catering accommodation in a sociable environment.

Many IHUK hostels are run by independent travellers for fellow travellers

Many of the people who to work in, manage or own an IHUK  hostels don’t do it for the money: they do it because they empathise with the people who stay here. They are independent travellers themselves, they understand the requirements of the independent traveller and they try to create an environment that they themselves would appreciate staying in. This is very much the case at Inveraray Hostel on the western shore of Loch Fyne,  they pride themselves in features such as extra long hand built bunk beds and cosy communal areas with wood burning stoves.

IHUK sign on Inveraray Hostel Scotland
Inveraray Hostel on the western shore of Loch Fyne

Everyone is made to feel welcome at IHUK Hostels

One of the many enjoyable aspects about travel is meeting people or to be more correct meeting new and different people. It’s a common misconception that hostels are only for those who can’t afford to stay anywhere else. How wrong that is, IHUK hostels provide additional facilities not available in hotels or B&B’s.  Hostels are for anyone & everyone, they provide self catering facilities, drying rooms and a friendly shared environment.

IHUK sign on Edens Yard Accommodation
A great place to chat at Edens Yard Hostel

Some people choose to stay in a hotel where they have nowhere to go but to their room, crammed in with unused furniture & a TV, while others prefer to stay at a hostel that has somewhere they can clean and dry their muddy boots, self-catering facilities in which they can cook their own meals & communal areas where they can meet other guests.  IHUK Hostels are for independent, self-sufficient travellers of all ages, races, backgrounds and financial status.

IHUK sign on Bunkorama in the snow
Bunkorama near Barmouth in West Wales

IHUK Hostels are found all over  the UK

From large  city centre hostels to small hostels in the remotest of locations  you can find IHUK hostels in most places in the UK.  Most reflect their surrounding and the interests of their owners and offer a whole host of activities from star gazing to caving, mountain biking to wildlife watching.

ihuk sign on Tomlinsons Bunkhouse
Tomlinsons Bunkhouse in Rothbury Northern England

Many are quirky; you can stay in a cell of a former London jail, on a railway carriage  on a small station serving a remote crofting community in the Highlands of Scotland, at a Victorian gothic Mansion in Dorset  run as an education centre for sustainable living, in the nurses block at a Welsh Victorian castle once home to a world famous opera singer and later turned into a TB sanatoriam, or on a dutch barge moored in Bristol’s historic harbour.

IHUK sign at Elterwater youth hostel
Elterwater Hostel in the Lake District

Accommodation for large groups : Bunkhouses and Hostels

Hostels and Bunkhouses are perfect accommodation for large groups.

All the independent hostels and bunkhouses on the map above are ideally suited for large groups.  Sleeping 50+ people they have all the facilities a large group needs.  Large, fully equipped self-catering kitchens, plenty of communal dining and recreational spaces, equipment storage, drying/laundry rooms, large outside areas, parking and so much more.

Many of these large hostels and bunkhouses offer catering options to suit your large group’s needs. Many also have a variety of organised outdoor activities on-site or very close by.

If you need conference facilities, a theatre, lecture rooms  or a space for a party you will find hostels or bunkhouses that can help.

Talk direct with the manager to discuss exactly what you large group needs.  These hostels and bunkhouses have years of experience accommodating large groups, the managers are sure to be able to help.  They will most probably think of things you hadn’t even thought about!

Each hostel and bunkhouse is unique.  Have a look at each individual hostel’s details and follow the links to their own website for much more in depth information.

a large group enjoying their hostel
A group of guests enjoying their stay at an independent hostel

Located all over the UK.  You’ll find accommodation for you large group wherever you want to stay.

There are large independent hostels and bunkhouses which can accommodate your big group all over the UK (see the map above).

From the Isle of Skye & Inverness to Cornwall & Jersey, from Anglesey & the Isle of Man to Canterbury  you will find places to accommodate large  groups of 50 or more.  You’ll find places on the coast, in the mountains, in national parks and in our major towns and cities.  Your options are endless.

If you want your large group to be able to hit the night life, take in the culture or visit tourist attractions then a large city centre hostel is going to fit the bill.  City centre hostels and  bunkhouses are also popular when many people in your large party need to be able to travel there easily by public transport.  Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, York, Birmingham, Bristol, Bath, Canterbury and of course London all have independent hostels or bunkhouses that can accommodate big groups.

Or perhaps you want your big party of people to go somewhere peaceful, where distractions are minimised. In which case  why not turn to the rugged beauty of the Highlands of Scotland, or the wilds of the Welsh mountains.  Don’t forget our wonderful and varied National Parks.  The Peak District, the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales & The North York Moors with their beautiful scenery and attractions all have large hostels and bunkhouses which can fit your big group. Then of course in Wales you have the option of hosting your large group in the breathtaking  splendour of Snowdonia  or the Brecon Beacons.

Finally there’s the wonderful British coastline.  Your large group may be happiest by the sea, watching the wildlife and walking along the shoreline. There are hostels and bunkhouses big enough for large groups on the idyllic coast of Devon and Cornwall.  You will find others on or close to the dramatic Welsh coast in Pembrokeshire,  Aberystwyth and on Anglesey.  Perhaps you would prefer to take your big party of family, colleagues or friends to the rugged & inspirational Scottish coast or the  forgotten hidden beaches and dramatic skies on the Northumberland coast.

If you are feeling more adventurous you could always organise for your large group to go to Jersey, the Isle of Man or the Isle of Skye.  It would make it all the more memorable for being just that little bit out of the ordinary.

Whatever part of our beautiful country suits your large group best, you are sure to find a large independent hostel or bunkhouse nearby that can accommodate 50 or more of your guests.

mount cook cabins for large groups
Mount Cook Adventure Centre near the Peak District can accommodate large groups of up to 180 people in 4 bed dorms and glamping pods.

Accommodating your large group in a hostel or bunkhouse is so much cheaper than the alternative.

Hotels or party houses large enough to accommodate your large group will generally work our much more expensive than hostels or bunkhouses.  This is because the number of people sharing each bedroom in the hostel or bunkhouse will generally be higher.  The large self-catering kitchens mean than you can prepare all your own meals, thus keeping your costs down even further.

a large group in Canadian canoes
A group enjoying time in Canadian canoes

Hostels can help provide activities for your big group of guests.

Perhaps you want some organised outdoor activity for you large group. A guided walk among some spectacular scenery or along a coastal path?   Or maybe your group needs a bit more excitement; some team building or high adrenaline activities.  It is all possible.  From caving to climbing, shooting to quad biking, sailing and coasteering  to name but a few of the options open to you. Many of the hostels and bunkhouses listed on this page provide a wide range of outdoor activities either on-site or close by. The necessary equipment can be hired, qualified instructors provided and the health and safety requirements fulfilled.  Obviously always check all the details with the hostel or bunkhouse.

Alternatively you can organise everything yourself.

Many of the large groups that use independent hostels and bunkhouses organise their own entertainment.  The hostels and bunkhouses are quite happy with that.   Large groups of kindred spirits meet up for a couple of days  or longer to spend time together sharing their passion, be it bird watching, music, art, crafts, yoga, walking  etc. The possibilities are endless.

All different sorts of large groups stay in hostels and bunkhouses.

You would be surprised at the wide variety of large groups of people who join together to spend days together in independent hostels and bunkhouses. Here are just some examples of the large groups who regularly come.

Large family gatherings.

Big groups of friends


University/school reunions.

Large stag or hen weekends.

Corporate team building events.

Conferences (with a difference).




Derwentwater Hostel ideal for large groups
Derwentwater Independent Hostel can accommodate large groups of up to 88 people

Hostel and Bunkhouse accommodation is wonderfully flexible: Perfect when you are booking for a large group.

The beauty of hostel and bunkhouse accommodation for large groups is their flexibility.  You can stay for as long or as short a period as you like, weekends or midweek.  You can self-cater, or have a catered package.  There is often a choice of room sizes / beds per room. You can opt for organised activities or organise your own.  You can book the whole place to yourself or share the facilities with others.  Please remember each hostel is unique, so do discuss your requirements with the manager.


To find out more use our Group Enquiry Service.

Go to the top of this page and click on the Group Enquiry button. You can then outline your requirements;  preferred area, group size, facilities required etc.

Your enquiry will be sent  automatically to all hostels and bunkhouses who could accommodate your large group.  They will then contact you directly to discuss your requirements in more details.

It is so much easier than you researching all the hostels yourself.  Why not give it a try and see for yourself how easy it is.

Cumbria Way: Hostels and Bunkhouses

The Cumbria Way takes walkers on a 70 mile (112km) adventure through the heart of the Lake District National Park. It can be walked from south to north or vice versa.  Most of the route is low level but there are some higher, more exposed parts and good map reading skills are essential as the route is not well way-marked.

Whist the early sections are in low lying pasture type landscapes the middle section from the Langdales to Keswick and on to Caldbeck are more traditional Lakeland fell walking routes here the route goes up to 600+ metres and walkers should be aware of weather conditions and ensure they are correctly attired for serious hiking.

Walkers can complete the route in 5 days if they break the first day at Coniston, however it is possible to do the whole route using independent hostels and bunkhouses over 6 days. Details of the route are available on the LDWA website.

Day 1

The Cumbria Way starts in the market town on Ulverston on Morecombe Bay.  There are no independent hostels in the town but walkers could spend the night before the start at Kendal Hostel which is connected to Ulverston and Coniston by  the X6 bus  or at  Arnside Independent Hostel which is just 25 minutes away by regular train service.  On leaving Ulverston the route winds its way through lowland pasture until it enters the Lake District National Park. Here you are less than a kilometre from Lowick School Bunkhouse which is  a great first night base for groups of walkers.  For those happy to carry bedding Fell End Camping Barn is also in this area.  The route continues to the official end of day one at Coniston.  Groups as small as 8 can stay at High Wray Basecamp north of Coniston and there are a couple of YHA Hostels near Coniston.   Alternatively  you can catch the the X6 bus from Coniston to Kendal and spend the night at Kendal Hostel.  This gives the option of walking without a pack on the first day for those who have already stayed at Kendal Hostel.  This is a 25km 15 mile first day.

Day 2

The next day takes you into the heart of the Lake District Fells with some higher walking finishing at Elterwater Hostel or Great Langdale Bunkhouse.  Walkers can also venture further from the route to Thorney How Hostel or Grasmere Hostel in Grasmere. At this point the route is through stunning lake district countryside past tarns, across rivers and through woodland and you find your self in the heart of the Cumbria way countryside.

Cumbria Way near to Elterwater
Langdale Valley section of the Cumbria Way near Elterwater Hostel, ©️Pete Savin

Day 3

The next day takes you to Keswick.  Groups have the choice of Bowderstone Bothy (recognised groups only), Hawes End Centre and the Coach House at Old Windebrow or if they fancy going further afield to the Carlisle Diocesean Youth Centre.  Small groups on individuals can stay at Denton House. Indivudals are welcome at Catbells or Dinah Hoggas Camping Barns if they are bringing their own sleeping equipment.

Day 4

Cumbria Way walkers should really take the opportunity to stay at Skiddaw House Hostel high on the side of Skiddaw mountain. This hostel may be totally off grid but it does not stint on comfort and hospitality.  Don’t forget to stock up on provisions in Keswick before you set off though as it is self- catering only.  The Whitehorse Inn Bunkhouse is a catered option but a little off the route.

Day 5

The northern section of the Cumbria Way is really only catered for by Hudscales Camping Barn which does require visitors to bring their own sleeping bags and mats.  For the less intrepid there are a number of B&Bs etc on the Long Distance Walkers website page for the route.

Day 6

The final day brings you down from the high fells into the Eden Valley and Carlisle where the staff at Carlisle City hostel will make individuals and groups alike very welcome after their long adventure.

The table below shows all the accommodation in the Independent Hostel Guide which is on or within 5km (3miles) of the route.

Hostel name Distance along route (S-N) km + distance from route miles incl. distance from route Group only? Bedding provided Meals provided? Food available locally?
Lowick School Bunkhouse  10 6 yes no no yes
Fell End Camping Barn 13 + 2 9 no no no no
High Wray Basecamp 29 + 4 21 yes no no no
Elterwater Hostel 36 23 no yes yes yes
Thorney How Hostel 37+3 25 no yes yes yes
Grasmere Hostel 37+4 26 no yes yes breakfast only yes
Great Langdale Bunkhouse 41 26 no yes no yes
Dinah Hoggus Camping Barn 53 33 no no no yes
Bowderstone Bothy 56 35 yes no no no
Hawes End Centre 62 39 yes yes yes yes
Catbells Camping Barn 62 39 no no no yes
The Coach House at Old Windebrowe 67 42 yes yes no yes
Denton House 67 42 no yes yes yes
Carlisle Diocesean Youth Centre 67+4 44 yes no no no
Skiddaw House Hostel 74 46 no yes no no
White Horse Inn Bunkhouse 71+5 48 no yes yes yes
Hudscales Camping Barn 86 54 no no no yes
Carlisle City Hostel 111 69 no yes yes yes

Alternative Weddings : unusual and affordable wedding venues


Do you want an unconventional venue for your big day.  Something rustic and charming or an unforgettable location that celebrates everything you and your partner love.   There are hostels and bunkhouses that provide alternative weddings in a woodland Tipi, rustic barns and in the grandeur of a stately home or haunted castle.  As well as a unique venue and friendly help from the manager you can also be sure of great value accommodation onsite for your guests.  Find a unqiue place to say ‘I do’ in Britain’s most unusual and affordable wedding venues.

Get Married in a Welsh Castle – Alternate Wedding Venues


Craig Y Nos Castle - Alternative Wedding Venue
Craig Y Nos Castle – Alternative Wedding Venue

Criag Y Nos Castle in the Brecon Beacons provides grand weddings in a castle, with a day room for the wedding banquet and an evening room for the party afterwards.  There is guests accommodation in the castle and the adjoining “old nurses quarters” bunkhouse.

craig y nos castle alternative wedding venue
The Day Room at Craig Y Nos Castle

The icing on the cake is the  wedding ceremony itself,  which takes place in the historic opera house at Craig y Nos.  The opera house was built by a world-renowned opera star to entertain her society guests and European Royalty.  Let the theatre be your stage, the back-drop for your Wedding Ceremony.

Adelina patti's opera house, a magical location for your wedding
Adelina patti’s opera house, a magical location for your wedding

Get married on a farm – Alternative Weddings

Cholderton Farm, home of Cholderton Stonehenge Hostel, is licensed for marriages.    Cholderton Charlie’s rare breeds is licenced to hold ceremonies in different parts of the farm so you can celebrate in a Marquee, a Tipi or Yurt.

Alternative Weddings, get married on a farm
Alternative weddings, get married on a farm

The Youth Hostel onsite provides value accommodation for wedding guests and the farm has some great areas for celebrations including a  Wedding barn.   Make your dreams come true at Cholderton Farm.

The wedding Barn at Cholderton Farm
The wedding Barn at Cholderton Farm

Barn Weddings in Yorkshire

Howgills Barn is a registered venue for Civil Wedding ceremonies.  Seating from 40 (or 120 in a marquee), the Barn provides a picturesque back drop for your special day.


Nestled between the Yorkshire Dales and South Lake District, Howgills Barn is hidden away up a winding lane and is situated in 5 acres of green fields and rolling hills which form the Howgill Fells.  If Informal and ‘characterful’ is what you desire, then look no further!  The wedding barn is large enough to accommodate 45 guests, and can also be made into a more intimate setting for smaller groups.  Marquee hire is also available where the marquee fits directly on to the Barn building if you are looking for a larger wedding to accommodate up to 80 guests.   A Registrar from the Carlisle Registry Office can carry out your service either within the Barn hall, or there is glazed gazebo looking on to the Fells, which is also a registered area for saying your vows. The Barn provides guest accommodation in  8 ensuite bedrooms sleeping up to 35 guests and also in apartments 5 minute walk  away (sleeping up to 40 guests). Onsite camping is available and Bell tents with futon beds! The Barn is very much a ‘blank canvas’ to mould to your theme and requirements and the only limitation is your imagination!  There is no charge for corkage and you are welcome to organise your own catering (or ask if you want this done for you). There  are stunning woodlands, streams and fields for photographs,   5 acre field for parking.

Howgills Wedding barn for alternative weddings
Howgills Marquee and Wedding Barn

Alternative woodland wedding in a Scottish forrest.

Marthrown of Mabie  provide alternative weddings near Dumfries in South West Scotland.  You can get married in a forest glade, inside a Roundhouse, or with breathtaking views over the Solway Firth.   Bring your wellies or summer sandals for a uniquely special day that everybody will remember for years to come.  Marthrown of Mabie provides great value accommodation for 26 guests in their bunkhouse and Tipis, a bridal suite in the Yurt and a camp site for those extra adventurous guests!  The helpful staff have all the contacts you may need to arrange the celebrations including a Scottish piper, humanist and religious celebrants,  local brewery, ceilidh band and catering for all needs and budgets. (Spit Roasts are always a favourite!).

alternative wedding in a roundhouse at marthrown
Alternative wedding in a roundhouse at Marthrown of Maybe

Alternative weddings in a Georgian mansion with a waterfall and 17 acres of grounds

Derwentwater Hostel makes a special setting for a wedding with views over Derwentwater Lake and performing red squirrels almost guaranteed!    The hostel can provide catering and that the front lawn is ideal for a marquee or a large Tipi.

Surrounded by dramatic mountains, Derwentwater Independent Youth Hostel is situated in Keswick, in the Lake District. The hostel is a Grade II listed Georgian manor house and stands in 17 acres of grounds, with the high Barrow Cascade waterfall, rich woodland and a large grassy area.  The entire hostel is available for hire, at a very affordable price including accommodation for 88 guests and use of all the reception rooms and grounds.

derwentwater alternative wedding venue
Dining room at Derwentwater Hostel, a great wedding venue

 Wellbing weddings in the foothills of Cadair Idris

Corris Hostel offers a special atmosphere that disengages the stresses of the outside world for your after wedding celebrations . The award winning hostel is renowned as a spiritual haven with its caring, easy going atmosphere and friendly staff. Outdoors the terraced landscaped gardens provide a serene, inspirational environment with stunning view of the valley below as a back drop for your photos.  There is a large high ceiling hall for your party and great value accommodation for up to 40 guests.  The hostel has laser lighting in the main hall and you can transformer this space with your own decorations.

Corrs Hostel alternative Wedding venue

Alternative Weddings in Hebden Bridge

In the same building as Hebden Bridge Hostel is an impressive space ideal for weddings. Hebden Bridge Hostel is housed in the Birchcliffe Centre and adjoins an ex-Baptist chapel that hosts weddings.  The Birchcliffe Centre contains the hostel and also The Main Hall,  an impressive space and is ideal for weddings.   There is a 250+ seat auditorium and a beautiful mezzanine room ideal for celebrations. Each zone can be hired separately or altogether and great value accommodation is available for 33 wedding guests at the hostel.

hebden bridge hostel wedding venue
Hebden Bridge Hostel and Birchcliffe Centre wedding venue next door.

Celebrate your Wedding at the Workhouse

alternative weddings at the workhouse
Alternative Wedding at the Workhouse

The Bunkhouse at the Workhouse is part of a larger community project at  Y Dolydd Workhouse with reception rooms, building and gardens ideal for celebrating.  Exclusive hire of the workhouse is available for weddings and offers you a blank canvas so that you can create a personal, bespoke event to suit your needs and purse strings.  A catering service is available if required and the Workhouse has a fully licenced bar that can be open by arrangement.  There is plenty of off road parking and gardens.

Hornby Laith Bunkhouse Barn in the Yorkshire Dales occupies a secluded position with sleeping for up to 5O people. There is plenty of parking, a separate barn containing a recreational area and space for a marquee for weddings.  Full catering can be organised by arrangement.

Kingshouse Hotel and Bunkhouse in Glencoe make  a stunning wedding venue in the winter time.   Wedding bookings are available from November through to early March.

Alternative Weddings on Dartmoor, South Devon

Colehayes Park is the perfect venue for those looking for somewhere relaxed to extend their wedding celebrations over a long weekend or whole week.   The house is a fully-licensed wedding venue and  can also sleep up to 81 guests. It offers a unique opportunity for guests to enjoy the company of friends and family for a longer period of time and is available for  DIY weddings, so you have the freedom to create an individual wedding.

DIY Weddings


The Hebridean Way: Hostels, Bunkhouses and Bothies

The Hebridean Way is a walking or cycle route stretching the whole length of the Outer Hebridean Islands from Vatersay to Lewis.  Usually walked or cycled from south to north due to the prevailing winds, the route takes you through a wide variety of always stunning landscapes from crystal clear deserted beaches, to wild mountains, past freshwater lochs and beautiful sea views.  The famous changeable weather and the fantastic wildlife will certainly ensure that your trip is a memorable one.

There are excellent ferry routes from the mainland (Oban for Castlebay and Lochboisdale, Ullapool to Stornoway),  which combined with the excellent bus services on the mainland means the whole route can be done using public transport, ferries and shank’s pony!

The 156 mile walking route can be travelled over 12 days of between 10 and 17 mile walks.  It is possible to stay in a combination of Independent and SYHA hostels along the route although occasionally it is necessary to stay more than one night in a hostel and use the excellent bus services to get you to and from your end and start points.  There are always options to take detours or stay longer in certain places to make the most of your trip to these historic and unique islands.

Cyclists travelling the Hebridean Way should follow the well signposted NCN780 cycle route which takes them 185 miles from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis lighthouse (the most northerly point on Lewis and the Hebrides).  It is advisable to bring a map as well in order to take detours for attractions and cake! The Hebridean Way Cycle route is usually done over either 4 or 6 days and can be done using a combination of Independent and SYHA hostels.

Crossing 10 islands, using 6 causeways and 2 ferries, both routes are a fantastic challenge for the keen walker or cyclist providing the opportunity to see these stunning islands on the edge of Europe at a gentle pace surrounded by stunning scenery and abundant wildlife.

It is always advisable to book your accommodation if you are planning a trip on the Hebridean Way, especially in the summer.

Visit Hebrides has produced a fantastic website full of useful advice and the LDWA website shows the route,  but don’t forget to come back to the Independent Hostel Guide to book your accommodation.


Accommodation Retreats : Take time out at a well-being hostel

Lots of hostels have ideal locations for organised retreats; quiet, remote and in stunning scenery.  A few very special places provide accommodation with an atmosphere where sole travellers can  take time out to focus among new people or simply enjoy being alone.   Self catering facilities and communal meals at these places provide opportunities to focus on new relationships.  Often these hostels will be close to religious sites or pilgrimage routes  and some are run on ethical grounds by religious organisations.

Achaban House on the pilgrims route to iona
Achaban House on the pilgrims route to Iona

At the end of the pilgrim route on Mull, just a short ferry ride away from the Isle of Iona,  Achaban House has comfortable soft carpeted rooms and  large airy social spaces imbibed  with a tranquil atmosphere.   It is set in a natural environment surrounded by wildlife.   Achaban House is a much loved place by guests looking for peace, simple companionship and an easy daily pilgrimage to the monastic isle.

Abbey walls on the isle of iona
Abbey walls on the Isle of Iona

Iona Hostel is on the island itself,  close to Iona Abbey,  started by St Columba in the 6th century, and now home to the Iona Community.  A contemporary take on pilgrimage is as ‘transformational journeying’ and Iona Hostel has offered warm and homely sanctuary to individual travellers and groups of pilgrims for many years.  Iona is described as a ‘thin place’ between the physical and spiritual and travellers come from around the world to experience its unique quality and astonishing beauty. Transformation needn’t be big and momentous but can be gentle and warm, like sitting on the beach below Iona Hostel and watching the sun sink quietly over over the Western Isles.

Old Red Lion Hostel in Castle Acre used for retreats
Castle Acre medieval walled town with ancient roots; ideal for retreats

The Old Red Lion in Norfolk enjoys the special atmosphere of Castle Acre village, once a medieval walled town, which lies within the outer bailey of an 11th century castle.  On the Peddars Way ancient trail  the Old Red Lion carries on the tradition of serving travellers who seek refreshment and repose. There are quiet areas for reading and meeting and the flint and timber-walled pub cellar and garden room are used for regular yoga classes and organised retreats.

knoydart remote and ideal for retreats
Knoydart Bunkhouse is on a remote peninsula on the west coast of Scotland “just to be there is good for the soul”

Knoydart Bunkhouse is on a remote peninsula on the west coast of Scotland  and is accessible only by boat or a long hike.   People who reach this wild location jutting out on the Atlantic coast say “just to be there is good for the soul”. Surrounded by sea and rugged, mountainous terrain and a National Scenic Area of mountains, glens and coast , Knoydart is a haven for wildlife. Bring walking boots and binoculars and you’re set for a retreat to remember !

retreats at the Penquoit Centre
Retreats at The Penquoit Centre

The Penquoit Centre in rural Pembrokeshire is close to the peaceful Cresswell River Estuary.  The unique blend of artistic conversion and ancient buildings in this backwater location makes the  Penquoit Centre ideal for group retreats of 10 to 25 people.  There is shared dining on large wooden tables and an event room with plenty of space for group activities.  The centre is surrounded by wildlife and there is easy access to the large courtyard from all the buildings.  From the mid-1980s the Penquoit Centre has been host to many retreats and creative courses.

Hebden Bridge is an old mill town reclaimed by artists, writers and green & New Age practitioners of alternative therapies.  Hebden Bridge Hostel reflects its host town and is often used by yoga and zen groups for retreats and workshops.

Monkton Wyld court for peace and retreats
Monkton Wyld court for peace and retreats

Monkton Wyld Court in Dorset has a history of well-being education and is run by an eco community who promote self sufficiency in an idyllic setting.

Ninebanks hostel in the North Pennines host retreats organised by Buddhists, artists and well-being coaches.   Organisers  find the friendly feel of the building, the social atmosphere of the living space, the peaceful rural location and the wonderful view all combine to engender a feeling of fulfillment.

Badrallach Bothy and the Earth Mind Fellowship
Badrallach Bothy and the EarthMind Fellowship

Badralloch Bothy is home to the EarthMind Fellowship, which runs nature-oriented workshops for health and wellness.  This social enterprise organises workshops for exploring nature, both inner and outer, incorporating herbal medicine and nutrition, health and wellness, stress-management, HeartMath, Wilderness Therapy and creative approaches such as dance, music, art and writing.

community and retreats at the workhouse
Community at the Llanfyllin Workhouse

Llanfyllin Workhouse, home to ‘the Bunkhouse at the Workhouse’ is owned and run by the local community.  It uses a holistic and sustainable approach  to provide valuable learning experiences for all ages  including green crafts, gardening, creative arts and performance skills.

corris hostel ideal for retreats
Corris Hostel ideal for retreats

Corris hostel is a renowned haven from the stresses of the outside world; with its homely atmosphere, friendly staff, inspirational library and cosy wood fires. The hostel has a holistic focus and an interest in the ‘healing arts’. The garden is terraced up the hillside with a range of ‘nature-scaped’ themes and places of meditation and solitude and beyond the boundary there is deciduous tree forest continuing up the mountain and accessible.  This retreat has a great ’spirit of place‘ and connection to nature.

Skiddaw House mind over mountains
Skiddaw House hosts Mind over Mountains

Skiddaw House, one of the UK’s remotest hostels, have hosted laid-back weekends of walking and talking with  like-minded adventurers.  Called ‘Mind Over Mountains’  these weekends promote the benefits of UK mountains for mental and physical health.  By climbing mountains, and sleeping on the side of one at Skiddaw House you can escape from modern life and make time for your mental and physical well-being.

Yealand Hostel and Airton Barn have peaceful locations and a Quaker connection.   Yealand is close to three very small villages with little through traffic and good transport links.

Whether you join an organised retreat or visit an awe inspiring place on your own, a retreat gives you the chance to take a break from your everyday.

Wales Coast Path: Hostels & bunkhouse accommodation

If you are looking for accommodation on the Wales Coast Path, Hostels and bunkhouses are the perfect choice.  There are Independent Hostels along the whole of the Wales Coast Path route from Chepstow all the way round to Llandudno, meaning that the majority of the route can be walked using hostels and bunkhouses as accommodation.


Modern hostels and bunkhouses often provide bed linen so you don’t need to bring a sleeping bag (check each accommodation’s details). With self-catering and catered options (and many hostels and bunkhouses being close to a pub) there are catering options for all budgets.  For those cycling parts of the Wales coast path route many hostels provide cycle storage to keep your bike safe whilst you have a great night’s sleep.

After a day’s walking you will find a warm welcome in all of our accommodation on the Wales Coast Path.  Details of the route are available on the LDWA website.

The Wales Coast path joins up with Offa’s Dyke to create a circular route right round the edge of Wales, by using Independent hostels along with YHA hostels and B&Bs one can walk the whole length.

Wales Coast Path, Close to Piggery Poke Hostel
Wales Coast Path, Close to Piggery Poke Hostel

Piggery Poke Hostel is one of the ideally situated hostels on the southern section of the coast path.  In the county of Ceridigion, just north of Pembrokshire, and just half a mile from the coast on a footpath loop.  Piggery Poke was used as abase when Sam Dalley walked the Ceridigion section of the Wales Coast Path using public transport, you can Read More on our blog.

wales coast path near Morfa
Wales coast path near Morfa

Parc Elernion Caravan Park has a walkers camping barn with direct access to the coast path on the northern section of the Wales Coast Path.  Sleeping just 2 people with  sitting area, kitchenette and other facilities shared with the campers, the Camping Barn is on the north coast of the Llyn Peninsular close to the village of Trefor with a lovely little sandy beach and harbour.

Camping Barn location on the Wales Coast Path
Parc Elernion Camping Barn location near Trefor on the Wales Coast Path
wales coast path views
View from the Wales Coast Path near Trefor


Accommodation near to Pubs : Hostels and bunkhouses within walking distance of a pub

Accommodation near to pubs.

When you are choosing a hostel or bunkhouse there will naturally be many things that will influence your choice.  For many people choosing  hostels which are near to pubs is very important.

Indeed those hostels in the Independent Hostel network that are situated close to pubs prove very popular and booking is always advisable, especially in high season.

Fortunately in many areas hostels and country pubs go hand in hand and there are over 100 bunkhouses and hostels in the network which are within a short walk of a pub and these are shown on the map.  Enlarge it as you wish for more detail and click on the red icons to find out more about each hostel or bunkhouse, then follow the link to their own website.

accommodation near to pubs
Barrington Bunkhouse, in the North Penines, is very near to the pub and on the C2C cycle route and the Pennine Journey

Why are Hostels near to pubs so popular?

There are many reasons why people choose to stay in hostels or bunkhouses close to pubs.

All hostels and bunkhouses are self-catering with kitchen and dining facilities. For the most part guests enjoy the flexibility and economy self catering brings. However there are occasions when a quick walk to the pub nearby is just what is needed.

After a busy day out in the countryside, walking, cycling, climbing or whatever your passion you may not feel like cooking your own meal for once, so what could be easier than taking a very short walk to the nearby pub and treating yourself to a hearty home cooked meal.

Alternatively you may decide after cooking for yourself at your accommodation to pop over to the local pub for a pint or two of the local real ale.  There isn’t a better way to meet the locals, learn more about the area and get a feel for the community you are visiting than sitting and chatting to the regulars in the pub.

Often guests find that on their first evening they are tired after a long journey and rather than cooking for themselves they will start their holiday off with a visit to the pub nearby for some pub grub and a pint while they plan the next few days.

Others like to finish their stay on a high, with a hearty meal at the pub down the road.

Then there is always that awful situation when you discover, after an exhausting day out in the countryside, that you haven’t got enough food for the evening meal.  What an enormous relief to know that you are staying in a hostel near to a pub!!

Pub bunkhouse
The Ceilidh Place in Ullapool has a bunkhouse very near to it’s pub

Hostels or Bunkhouses close to pubs are vital for people on a walking holiday.

If you and your group are on a walking holiday, perhaps doing one of the long distance paths and are walking from hostel to hostel, then choosing accommodation that is near to a pub is very important.

How many people really want to have to walk miles to and from the pub in the evening for their supper after having walked many miles during the day? The alternative, if your hostel is not close to a pub, is having to carry your provisions for your evening meal as well as your breakfast with you as you walk, something not everyone is happy to do.  Alternatively, with no pub close to your accommodation you will be forced to go to the expense of taking a taxi  to the nearest pub and back again.  I am sure you will agree it is much more prudent to book hostels or bunkhouses situated close to pubs!A bunkhouse right next to the pub

The Royal Oak Bunkbarn in Derbyshire is very close to the pub.

Hostels near to pubs are great for groups of friends or families

Many groups of families and friends favour hostels and bunkhouses close to pubs as their proximity gives more choice as to what people do and where they go.  With larger groups, people don’t always want to do the same things all of the time, so the opportunity for some of the group to slip next door for a pint or two is welcomed.

Self catering for a large group saves lots of money, but again as a treat, a rest for the ‘cooks’ and for a celebration, a quick walk to the pub close by for a tasty meal, a couple of drinks and a stroll home is a real perk.

Hostels near to pubs or country hotels
The Kinlochewe Hotel provides meals for guests staying at their Bunkhouse

Camping Barns near to pubs are also very popular.

Camping barns are much more basic than hostels or bunkhouses.  Facilities will vary from camping barn to camping barn but generally guests are expected to bring their own cooking equipment, utensils and food.  So the chance to book a camping barn close to a pub is not to be turned down.  Once again having the choice to give self-catering a miss and pop down the road for a plateful of home cooked food, a roaring fire and some local beer is really valued by the camping barn guests.

Stay at a Hostel near to a pub and you can invite other friends to join you for the evening.

Often groups staying at a hostel or bunkhouse seize the chance to invite other more local friends to join them in the evening for a meal and a catch up.  This may not always be possible in the hostel itself.  But if the accommodation is close to a pub, the problem is solved and everyone can meet up in the pub and enjoy a jovial evening together.