The Great North Trail is an exciting new off-road cycle trail which goes from the southern Peak District to the northern tip of Scotland. Developed by Cycling UK, the 800 mile route takes you along existing and newly negotiated off-road trails.
Starting at Middleton Top, near Wirksworth in Derbyshire the route takes you along the Pennine Bridleway and onwards to either John O’ groats or Cape Wrath. You will ride through some of Britain’s most stunning upland area and across four national parks. It is not designed to be the easiest of routes. Neither is it the most direct, nor the fastest. However, the Great North Trail will inspire and invigorate those that ride it. It will provide those that tackle it with an epic adventure and a host of wonderful memories.
You can ride it all in one go, do a section at a time over a long weekend or just do a day ride. Whatever you choose, there are fabulous independent hostels and bunkhouse all along the route. Geared up for the adventurous at heart, many have drying rooms and secure cycle storage. And all offer great value for money and a warm and friendly welcome.
For loads more information go to Cycling UK’s website
It’s always a magical feeling when you enter a warm and friendly hostel after a busy day outdoors. Cold and windswept, you are in need of some serious R&R. You scan the room and your eyes are met with a proper wood burning stove, happily chugging away. You know you are in for a good evening.
A quick change later and you’re sat in front on the glowing log burner. Slowly melting into your seat while you swap stories with the other guests. All warm and cosy. There’s just something about a wood burner that makes a living room all that more inviting, especially as the colder nights set in.
The hostels on this list all are equipped with log burners. You can be safe in the knowledge that it’ll be nice and toasty for the duration of your stay.
There’s no place like by the campfire or firepit. Whether with friends or soon to be friends, there are few better places to swap stories and reflect on the day than sitting around the fire pit or the campfire. Children and adults alike will love the fun of gathering wood and getting the fire lit. Even better there’s the satisfaction of cooking some sausages or toasting marshmallows on the fire you have just made. School and scout or brownie groups often make good use of the very same firepits. Using the opportunity of the hostels’ campfire for bush craft lessons, learning how to start fires and safely put them out. Campfires are the perfect way to extend a fun filled day, providing focus and warmth as the evening turn to night.
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 ideal 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!
The Coast & Castles route (south) runs from Newcastle to Edinburgh. One of the UK’s easiest, but still epic, long distance routes, it links the Tyne and Forth estuaries. The first 85 miles will take you along the stunning and mostly flat Northumbrian coastline. You will cycle through several Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, nature reserves and, as you would expect, past many castles. Tynemouth Priory, Warkworth Castle, Alnwick Castle (detour), Dunstanburgh Castle, Bamburgh Castle, Lindisfarne Castle & Priory (Holy Island), The Berwick Walls, Norham Castle and finally Edinburgh Castle will all bear witness to the progression of your ride. If you plan your trip correctly to coincide with the low tides you can cycle over the paved causeway to spend a few hours on the magical island of Lindisfarne, which was possibly the holiest site of Anglo-Saxon England.
A choice of route options
The route hugs the coastline on NCN Route 1 until you reach the picturesque border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Here the route splits and you have two choices. For the shorter option take NCN Route 76 and continue along the coast via Dunbar into Edinburgh (173 miles). Alternatively for a longer ride (199 miles) stay on NCN Route 1. This will lead you inland into the Tweed Valley and the quiet lanes of the Border Country to Innerleithen, then up over the moors and into the imposing city of Edinburgh.
With its historic old town, the shops of Princess Street and the many tourist attractions, Edinburgh is well worth a stopover before you make your return journey.
Starting and finishing points
The route is best ridden south to north, as the wind is generally more favourable. The official start on the Sustrans map is Newcastle Train Station. However, the pretty coastal town of Tynemouth is the much more popular starting point. Tynemouth is easily reached by regular local trains and saves you the tedious ride through Newcastle. Once you have finished exploring Edinburgh and you don’t fancy returning by bike there are direct trains from Edinburgh Waverley to Newcastle Station.
Dog friendly accommodation in hostels and bunkhouses:
All our dog friendly accommodation is shown on the map above. There are over a hundred dog friendly hostels and bunkhouses in the Independent Hostels network, all welcoming dogs by arrangement. Our dog friendly accommodation is scattered across the UK from Sussex to the Scottish Highlands, you will even find places to stay with your dog on some of the Scottish Islands. These dog friendly hostels and bunkhouses are often in ideal locations for holidays with your dog. There is a wide choice of hostels and bunkhouses in awe-inspiring locations in the National Parks of Britain. Many are dotted along the UK’s stunning coastlines, ideal for coastal walks and most are in rural locations. From your dog friendly accommodation you can explore seaside towns, wild moorlands, historic battlefields and ancient hills. You can walk through woodlands, along picturesque rivers, through hidden villages and across our green and pleasant land.
Bunkhouses and hostels provide great value self catering accommodation. They are well suited to groups of friends or families and, because they provide accommodation for as short a period as one night, they are ideal for a stop-over to break a long journey. Buy why stay for just one night? You, your friends and family and your dog will be welcome for as long as you like.
Around a quarter of the accommodation in the Independent Hostels network, that’s over 100 hostels and bunkhouses allow dogs by arrangement. These are all displayed on the map above. On the individual hostel pages look out for the brown dog friendly symbol shown below. This same symbol is used in the printed Independent Hostel Guide. You can send an enquiry to a number of dog friendly hostels using our Send Enquiry service. Look for the ‘Dogs by arrangement’ tick box.
Once you have established that the hostel or bunkhouse you wish to stay in welcomes dogs be sure to pre-arrange your visit with the hostel manager. Some hostels and bunkhouses have a limited number of dog friendly rooms and the managers will need to check availability. Other bunkhouses have a policy of only one dog staying at a time, to prevent doggy conflicts. Some of the hostels are on farms where livestock and farm dogs are around, so always keep your canine friends on a lead unless you have been informed otherwise.
Here are some examples of Dog Friendly Accommodation from the Independent Hostel Guide
Here are some stories from just a few of the hostels and bunkhouses providing dog friendly accommodation in our network. DEEPDALE BACKPACKERS in North Norfolk has dog friendly rooms in the hostel as well as a dog friendly Tipi . Their website also has a guide to the area which tells you about dog friendly pubs, cafés and beaches as well as ideas for walks.
Pentre Bach Bunkhouse in Snowdonia is eight minutes’ walk from a local pub which welcomes dogs in the bar. There is a sheepdog trainer next door and you can often see him training his collies. The accommodation is dog friendly and the 250 yard track to the barn has grassy areas all the way down, ideal for constitutional walks.
Marthrown of Mabie Bunkhouse say “We welcome well-behaved dogs with responsible owners (or vice versa!!)” which always raises a smile! If you think you can behave its well worth the trip to Dumfries! At Marthrown of Mabie you, your canine and human friends can sleep totally surrounded by the Mabie Forest, without a whisper of the noise of modern life.
Gilfach Wen Barn welcomes dogs and is adjacent to the Brechfa Forest and not far from the Brecon Beacons. The forest is designated as a dog friendly tourism destination by Carmarthenshire County Council because of the wide range of tracks and trails which walkers have the right to roam on through the forest. What could be better for your lovely long dog walks?
New Ing Lodge is on the Coast to Coast path and most of their canine visitors have walked a long way before reaching them (probably at least twice as far as their owners!). That’s why there is a dog bed available, so they too can have a comfortable rest for their tired paws. New Ing Lodge also has large grounds at the back of the building for the dogs to stretch their legs as well as a walled garden in front of the house, where the owners can let their dogs run off lead.
As you can see there is really no reason at all why you should leave your dog at home or in kennels when holidaying in Independent Hostels. Independent hostels offer great value self catering accommodation. They are even better value when you don’t have the extra cost of kenneling on top of your other expenses. With more than a quarter of the hostels in our network (that’s over 100) offering dog friendly accommodation there is certain to be the right holiday destination for you, your friends, your family and your dog. So whatever you fancy doing, wherever you fancy going, you’ll find an independent hostel offering dog friendly accommodation.
For many private rooms are a necessity when it comes to travelling in hostels. While some of the more hardcore backpacker crowd might disagree it’s becoming more and more accepted that a lot of hostels now offer these rooms. The reasons for having a private room vary however the perks remain the same throughout.
Why are private rooms so popular?
As the word implies private rooms offer a deal more privacy over the standard dorm room, invaluable for the light sleepers who can’t sleep without total silence. Families also benefit from having a little bit more room.
Private rooms offer peace of mind, with your own key you can come and go as you please without having to worry about locker space.
All the benefits of a hotel with hostel prices
Private rooms offer affordable accommodation similar to a hotel but with all the benefits of a hostel.
Use of the self catering kitchens and social areas makes the whole experience much more personal. Just because you’re in your own room doesn’t mean you have to stay in it!
The friendly atmosphere of hostels is what keeps people coming back year after year, meeting new people and hearing their experiences is still as easy to do as in a dorm. Socialise over breakfast or by the fire in the evening. All the while knowing you can retire to your cosy private room when your ready for bed.
Treat yourself to a bit of luxury
While bunk beds are tried and tested its always nice to treat yourself every now and then. With many private rooms offering double beds they’re perfect for getting a good nights sleep. Just what you’ll need after a day out exploring some of the UK’s best spots.
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.
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.
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!
Accessible Accommodation in Hostels and Bunkhouses
Independent hostels and bunkhouses have a variety of levels of access for the disabled. Often there is a bedroom or toilet designed for use by a disabled person, with some hostels being accessible throughout the building.
Traditionally all accommodation with some level of accessibility was included in the guide with a wheelchair symbol. From summer 2021 onwards we are only using this symbol where we have full information on the accessibility, as well as pictures.
Accommodation with accessibility details are shown on this page with links to the information. Some are fully accessible but others with different levels of accessibility are also included for those with less complex physical requirements.
We are adding new places everyday, so keep checking back for updates.
We recommend that you talk directly with the accommodation staff to make sure that your needs can be properly met.
For those wanting a dose of luxury in their camping experience, glamping is the perfect solution. It’s a wonderful alternative for those who would like to be closer to nature, but not too close!
Whether you’d like the enchanting atmosphere of a tipi or the simple home comforts of a camping pod, there’s a range of options to suit every taste. Glamping is popular for many different types of holidays and get togethers, adding a very unique spin to any trip.
For example, the beautiful new camping pods at Callander Hostel in the magnificent Highlands are perfect for adding a luxurious, but homely feel to any camping holiday.
Each come kitted out with their own individual kitchens and bathroom areas, so you’ll never be at the mercy of the weather!
And they’re perfectly situated so you’ll always have the benefit of a stunning view!
The Peak Pilgrimage was set up 2015 to mark the 350th anniversary of the plague that afflicted the villagers of Eyam. The brainchild of a team from Eyam church, the route takes you through some of the best parts of the Peak District. As you meander from church to church and pub to cafe you can reflect on the glory of nature and creation while collecting stamps and sticky Bible verse from the churches you pass.
You are strongly advised to buy the route’s guidebook which can be purchased from the Peak Pilgrimage website.
The route is 34 miles long and is designed to be walked by everyone. In fact, walkers from 8 to 80 have enjoyed the walk. It takes between 2 and 7 days to complete. There is a great choice of independent hostels to stay in on your pilgrimage. Nowhere is the walking more inspiring and restorative than in this section of the Peak District National Park.
The Peak Pilgrimage route is almost entirely on footpaths through beautiful but easy walking countryside, popping into occasional villages, visiting churches and passing lots of enticing pubs and cafes.
There are some waymarks along the Peak Pilgrimage route to guide you. These require permissions from landowners so it will take some time to do the whole route and there may be permanent gaps. Please look out for waymarks to help you but don’t rely on them! Read the Guidebook and look at maps in it as your primary navigation aid.
The opening of the Peak Pilgrimage in 2015 arose national interest. It featured on BBC’s Countryfile on 12 July 2015, Then on 24th March 2016 Clare Balding walked the last 7 miles from Curbar Gap to Eyam as part of her Radio 4 program, Ramblings.
You can take the route in either direction. Both Eyam and Ilam are worthy of a day’s visit and both have a choice of independent hostels near by to stay in.
Eyam is famous for the sacrifice of it’s people in 1665. Led by their rector they refused to flea in the face of the plague which was brought to the village from London in some cloth delivered to the village tailor. You can learn about all about the plague at Eyam Museum and visit Eyam Hall with its courtyard cafe.
Ilam is another idyllic tiny Peak District village, stepped in history and surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Derbyshire Dales. There’s the National Trust owned Ilam Hall and the picturesque Swiss style cottages. Ilam is an easy level walk to Dovedale the most famous of all the Derbyshire Dales and the iconic Stepping Stones over the River Dove.
The Tarka Trail is a 180 mile figure of eight route in North Devon. The central crossing point is at the historic river-port town of Barnstaple. Based on the route travelled by Tarka the Otter in the novel by Henry Williamson, it takes you across unspoiled countryside, dramatic sea cliffs and beautiful beaches.
The first section of the Tarka Trail, the disused railway line between Barnstaple and Bideford was established in 1987. Later sections of the Two Moors Way and the South West Coast path were added and the complete figure of eight was officially opened in 1992 by Prince Charles.
Suitable for walkers, cyclists, families and buggies, the southern loop incorporates a magnificent 30 mile long off-road cycle path. The longest, continuous off-road cycle path in the UK.
With a selection of independent hostels and bunkhouses along the trail, you will have a choice of great value accommodation. As well as being flexible, many offering single night stays, independent hostels are geared up for outdoor people. So muddy boots, wet coats and bikes are all catered for.
Much more detailed information on the Tarka Trail can be found on it’s official website. There is also very informative guide book on the off road cycle path on the southern route. More details can be found here.
Here are the latest updates on groups and shared accommodation
There are no legal limits on the number of people who can meet indoors in England, Wales or Scotland. There are no legal physical distancing requirements in holiday accommodation except for face coverings, which remain a legal requirement in some indoor public places in Scotland and Wales.
Hostels and bunkhouses are required to take reasonable measures to manage the risk of coronavirus at their premises. Please assist with this by following the advice provided by your host.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path (also know as the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path) is quite a challenging route. It takes on average 10-15 days to walk from end to end. The ascents and descents amount to 35,000ft, which is roughly equivalent to climbing Everest. So a certain amount of pre-walk training is recommended. The route is very well way marked, but as always it is a good idea to take a guide book and map. As well as offering a the wonderful variety of breathtaking scenery, the area is rich in bird life and coastal flowers. If you are lucky you may also spot seals and wild ponies.
Opened in 1970, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path was the first national trail in Wales. An exhilarating and inspirational walk it passes an incredible 58 beaches and 14 harbours! The entire length of the route is covered by the Pembrokeshire coastal bus service. As a fair proportion of the route crosses areas that are scarcely populated, this regular bus service and is very popular with walkers ferrying them to and from their overnight lodgings.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is part of the 870 mile Wales Coast Path, a natural extension for those intrepid souls among you!
For more information you might find the following websites of interest:
The Wye Valley Walk is a 136 mile route that takes you from the Welsh border town of Chepstow to Hafren Forest in Mid Wales (the nearest town is Llanidloes). It’s a walk of great interest and contrasts which combines superb river and hill walking. You will weave through the magnificent scenery of the Wye Valley AONB before crossing the rolling countryside of Herefordshire and heading up into the hills of Mid Wales into Hafren Forest. There are marker posts for the start/finish at Chepstow Castle and Rhyd-y-benwch car park in Hafren Forest.
For most of the route you follow the banks of the river Wye, but at intervals some hill climbing is necessary. However, these ascents are rewarded with some spectacular views. As such it is not an extreme route and should be suitable for any reasonably fit walker. This is not at all a boring route, you will pass through densely wooded gorges; riverside meadows; broadleaved woodland; cider orchards, parkland and farmland; hills, mountains and open moorland.
Along the route there are a number of independent hostels, offering a warm welcome, hot showers and a comfortable bed to weary walkers. Some may help with luggage transfer, others may serve breakfast and evening meals and send you off with a packed lunch. Many will have pubs near by serving food or local shops selling provisions. All will have self-catering facilities for you to prepare your own food or to sit down and devour a take away. Do read their details and /or talk to them to see what they offer.
As you plan your accommodation remember to leave a little extra time for the many stunning views and highlights along the route. The walk takes you past the historic border towns of Monmouth, Hereford and Hay-on-Wye, as well as the architectural highlights of Chepstow Castle, Tintern Abbey, Goodrich Castle, Hereford Cathedral (home to the Mappa Mundi) and Gilfach Medieval longhouse.
At Hafren Forest the Wye Valley Walk meets to Severn Way, so you can easily extend your walking holiday if time and energy permit.
For more in formation on the walk try these links:
The Cape Wrath Trail runs through the Scottish Highlands and along the west coast of Scotland. It is approximately 200 miles in length and is considered to be one of the most challenging long distance walks in the UK. It starts in Fort William and finishes at Cape Wrath, the most north- western point of mainland Britain.
The route is unmarked and there is no official line. It is a superb route for very experienced long-distance backpackers. The Cape Wrath trail leads you across most of the north west coast of Scotland via Morar, Knoydart, Torridon and Assynt, winding through its most beautiful glens and mountains. It typically takes between two and three weeks to walk.
There is a selection of hostel/bunkhouse accommodation along the route. Careful planning is needed to combine these with, Bothies, B&B’s and maybe even wild camping .
The Snowdonia Way is a long distant route that takes you the entire length of Snowdonia (Eryri). It stretches from Machynlleth in the South to Conwy in the North. There are two alternative routes. Snowdonia Way’s main route is 97 mile long and is mainly low level. It will take you along valley tracks, hillside paths and through forested slopes. There are some steep ascents and descents but the route avoids the peaks. This means it can be walked by those who want a journey through the landscape, with stunning views of the mountains from the valleys. This is the only low level long distance route through Snowdonia and it allows you to see Snowdonia is all its magnificence.
If you want to climb some mountains on the way, a high level route has been devised. This route intersects with the standard Snowdonia Way route regularly. So you can switch between routes when you feel like it or when the weather dictates. If you opt to walk the whole high-level route from beginning to end, it is a 122 mile journey. You will climb some of the area’s most famous peaks including Snowdon, Cadair Idris, Cnicht and the Glyders. But you will also go up some lesser known peaks, which you may have all to yourself.
All along the route, including the mountain alternatives, there are independent hostels and bunkhouses offering friendly, low cost accommodation to walkers. More information about the route can be found at Snowdonia Way’s own website