Walking Festivals : Walkers accommodation in Bunkhouses and Hostels

Independent Hostels UK is working with walking festivals in England, Scotland and Wales to encourage walking, fresh air and friendship.

Listed below are all the walking festivals that Independent Hostels UK are proud to  be sponsoring.

From mid April until mid October there are walking festivals all over the UK.  Each festival has a programme of led walks over a number of days. Your perfect opportunity to explore new areas and routes without the hassle of route planning and map reading.  Many festivals offer a variety of walks of different lengths and difficulty so there is something for everybody.  What’s more many of the festivals have also added other elements such as talks, music or special interest walks.  Others are completely unique! Read the festival listing below carefully and you will discover why.

All the festivals below have been hand-picked as there are Independent Hostels and Bunkhouses in the area.  These self catering hostels and bunkhouses offer  great value accommodation for those who want to stay for a day or more and make the most of these wonderful walking events.

To find out more have a good look through the listing of walking festivals below.

Ulversten Walking Festival
Ulversten Walk Fest


12-14 April                       Kington Walks Spring Festival,  Herefordshire 

Following the success of the 1st event last year, the  2nd Spring Weekend will have 14 varied walks for a range of abilities and including Nordic Walking and a creative walk. The event will also have a number of walks and events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Offa’s Dyke Association.    Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Kington and here is Kington Walks Spring Festival’s own website.

24-28 April                      Chepstow Walking Festival, Monmouthshire

Join this popular walking festival which is firmly placed on the walkers’ map.  A programme of 35 walks between 2 – 13 miles for all abilities led by experienced walk leaders showcasing the rich heritage of the Lower Wye Valley and its stunning landscape across the borders of England and Wales. Ticket price includes parking and transport where applicable. Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Chepstow and the full programme and how to book online can be found at Chepstow Walking Festival’s own website from early February.   

27 April- 6 May              Ulverston Walk Fest, Cumbria   

 The 20th Ulverston WalkFest has a programme of volunteer led walks over 10 days, exploring many areas of this beautiful South Lakes region. Ulverston itself is a pretty market town with many festivals and events throughout the year, and many pubs and restaurants.  Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Ulverston and here is Ulverston Walk Fest’s own website

30th April – 6 May         Ride2stride Music and Walking Festival on the Settle to Carlisle Line, North Yorkshire/Cumbria

 The Yorkshire Dales Ride2Stride is a week long festival of walks talks and music along the scenic Settle to Carlisle railway line.  All the free guided walks start from a station and finish at a station where the local pub will be buzzing with live music.  The talks will enhance your knowledge of the local area.  This is a festival for everyone with four or five walks every day, graded  strenuous, moderate and easy. Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near the Settle to Carlisle line  and here is  Ride2stride Music and Walking Festival ‘s own website.  

 Ride2stride Music and Walking Festival on the Settle to Carlisle Line
Ride2stride Music and Walking Festival on the Settle to Carlisle Line


4th-6th May                   Llangollen Walking Festival, Denbighshire

Awaiting more details.                            Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Llangollen  and here is  Llangollen Walking Festival’s own website.    

10th-12th May             Kendal Walking Festival, Cumbria

Kendal is set to host it’s third walking festival. Surrounded by beautiful scenery it offers a wide variety of walking experiences. Kendal makes a superb base for those who enjoy walking and the festival has something for everyone regardless of his or her walking abilities.  Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Kendal and here is Kendal Walking Festival’s own website.   

18th May-2nd June    Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival 

This popular festival celebrates its 15th anniversary with an action packed programme of walks and outdoor activities for all, offering 16 days of walking and family fun in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.   Accommodation can be found at The Viking Centre and here is  Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival’s own website.   

Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival
Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival


1st-9th June                  Gower Walking Festival, West Glamorgan

The Gower Walking Festival was started in 2005 by the  Mumbles Tourist Association.  With 35 walks over 8 days it is a hugely popular event in the Gower and Swansea Bay calendar for both locals and visitors.  A not-for-profit event, the Gower Walking Festival is entirely run by volunteers.  Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation on and around  the Gower Peninsular and here is  Gower Walking Festival’s own website.   

7th-15th June               The Annual South Downs Way Walk , East Sussex/Hampshire

This will be the 40th year of this nine day supported walk along the full 100 miles of the South Downs Way National Trail.  The walk follows the ridge of these gentle chalk hills from the iconic white cliffs of Beachy Head to the medieval cathedral at Winchester.    Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation in the South Downs and here is The Annual South Downs Way Walk’s own website

14th-23rd June            Moray Walking and Outdoor Festival, Morayshire

Whether it’s a big challenge or a gentle amble, the Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival welcomes you.     Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Moray and here is Moray Walking and Outdoor Festival’s own website

22nd-23rd June           Quantock Walking Festival, Somerset

Stowey Walking, the Walkers are Welcome steering group for Nether Stowey and Over Stowey, are organising this walking festival in and around the Quantock Hills ANOB and West Somerset coast. Many of the walks will have a theme with local experts leading each walk. All walks will start and finish in the village of Nether Stowey, with the opportunity for tea and cake at the end of each walk.  Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near the Quantock Hills and here is  Quantock Walking Festival’s own website.    

22nd-30th June           Otley Walking Festival, West Yorkshire

You will be sure of a warm welcome at the 19th Otley Walking Festival with 50 great walks in stunning Wharfedale .  Warm welcome, good company, fantastic scenery. Variety of walks – short town-based walks, strenuous moorland hikes and everything in between, plus full evening events programme.  Festival Highlight – An 8 mile walk incorporating a guided tour of Farnley Hall with its wonderful  collection of unseen Turner water colours.     Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near the Otley and here is  Otley Walking Festival’s  own website.    

28th-30th June          Snowdonia Challenge.

Now in its third year this unique 100km walking challenge is attracting walkers from across the world. Held in Betws-y-Coed, North Wales, the perfect base to explore some of the less visited parts of Snowdonia with some of the best views the national park has to offer. Not just your average walking challenge, Snowdonia Challenge is the only event of its kind in the UK! Not for the faint hearted, to take on the full three day challenge you will need commitment and determination to prepare for and complete this event. It is a test of mental and physical resilience and team work and will take you on a journey of self-discovery. It is inspired by multi-day challenges used as military training events in Europe. This is not just about challenging yourself though.  Taking part in the Snowdonia Challenge you will be part of an amazing adventure where you will make new friends and explore parts of Snowdonia you’ve never been before. Full event – 3 day walking event – 100km over 3 days. Or if you’d like to be a part of it but can’t commit to the full 3 days then join us for 1 or 2 days. Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation in and around Snowdonia and here is  Snowdonia Challenge’s own website.   

Otley Walking Festival
Otley Walking Festival


24th Aug- 1st Sept      Dartmoor Walking Festival, Devon

The Dartmoor National Park are fully supporting the week with ranger-led walks as well as archaeological visits and events.  The aim is to have at least four events each day during the nine-day festival, so there really is something for everybody, with evening talks and walks included.  The week is only limited by your imagination so come along and explore Dartmoor and find out more about this incredibly special place.  Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation in Dartmoor National Park and here is  Dartmoor Walking Festival’s  own website. 

31st Aug-1st Sept       Corwen Walking Festival, Denbighshire

Two days of wonderful walking, skills talks and evening entertainment  in and around the town of Corwen in the magnificent and majestic Dee Valley.   Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near  Corwen and here is Corwen Walking Festival’s  own website.   



1st-30th Sept                Guildford Walkfest, Surrey

Guildford Walkfest is a series of organised walks designed to encourage people of all ages to get out and enjoy our wonderful town and beautiful countryside in and around Guildford. With more than 70 guided walks on the programme there is certain to be something to suit everyone regardless of age, ability or experience and as every year, all the walks are guided, free, and everybody is welcome to join in.   Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Guildford and here is Guildford Walkfest’s  own website.   

7th-14th Sept               Scottish Borders Walking Festival

Hosts Selkirk and the Valleys (Ettrick and Yarrow) will celebrate the milestone 25th outing of the longest established Walking Festival in Scotland and we plan to do it in style. The Festival is organised and run by volunteers with support from Scottish Borders Council and Live Borders. We hope you have fantastic walks in our beautiful countryside, enjoy everything that we have planned for you, and meet plenty of friendly Selkirk “Souters” as you go about the town. Accommodation can be found at Cleikum Mill Lodge  and here is the Scottish Borders Walking Festival’s own website.

7th-22nd Sept             South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival, Yorkshire/Lancashire

Enjoy the unspoilt beauty of the moorlands to the fascinating heritage of the industrial revolution. Join events for families, cyclists, horse riders and walkers as part of the South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival 2019.   Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation in and around the South Pennines and here is South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival’s own website.   

14th-23rd Sept            Barmouth Walking Festival, Gwynedd

Set in the dramatic beauty of coastal Snowdonia, Barmouth sits on the Northern side of the stunning Mawddach Estuary, sheltered by the Cader Idris Range to the south and the Rhinog Mountains to the north. The Walking Festival has been developed with the aim of encouraging visitors to explore these magnificent surroundings on foot –in the company of keen, experienced and knowledgeable local guides. Historians and naturalists lead some walks and expert advice has been taken to ensure a safe, interesting and varied programme.   Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Barmouth and here is Barmouth Walking Festival’s own website.    

14th-29th Sept            Autumn Footprints, Derbyshire

Awaiting more details.   Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation in Derbyshire and here is Autumn Footprints’ own website.        

19th-22nd Sept           Kington Walking Festival, Herefordshire

The 8th annual festival has over 35 walks across the 4 days and the programme will be as varied as ever, featuring a variety of lengths and difficulty and, as well the great border countryside and views, will cover subjects such as geology, history, archaeology, flora and cider making.   Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Kington and here is Kington Walking Festival’s own website.

21st-22nd Sept             Snowdonia 24

Snowdonia’s brand new individual or team entry 24 hour challenge. Complete as many 10km laps as you can and do each one at your own pace. Take on the challenge by yourself and see how far you can go, or enter as a relay team  with each team member doing their own distance at their own pace. The 10km trail takes you from the gorgeous village of Betws-y-Coed, up into the Gwydyr Forest and around Llyn Elsi with fantastic views across Snowdonia, before heading back down to the village. The stunning but challenging 10km trail consists of forest tracks,  narrow paths and tarmac, with a couple of hills thrown in, and will be well signed to show you the way. You’ll be fully supported throughout the 24 hours by our team of qualified mountain leaders along the route and our ‘base team’ at the end of each lap. There’ll be a first aid and emergency team on hand for medical support. There’ll be water, snacks and refreshments to keep up your energy levels and hot meals included. Take home an exclusive, locally sourced Snowdonia 24 slate medal and some amazing memories.
Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation in and around Snowdonia  and here is Snowdonia 24’s own website.        

27th-29th Sept            Ross on Wye Walking Festival, Herefordshire

Ross-on-Wye Walking Festival offers a  wonderful opportunity to explore some of the incredible countryside of South Herefordshire, offering dramatic gorges, rolling hillsides, spectacular views, meandering rivers, ancient forests and parkland.  Add to this experienced leaders and specialists who will explain a range of really interesting features on these walks from local history, bird-spotting, lost castles, unusual churches, local conservation, steam  trains, pre-Roman mining and industrial heritage, ancient caves and local geology formations. It’s a recipe for a great weekend, in a great place, with great people.  Do come along…  Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Ross on Wye and here is  Ross on Wye Walking Festival’s own website.     

28th Sept-6th Oct      Richmond Walking and Book Festival, North Yorkshire

Boots and books, walks and words… Come and join our unique festival with nine days of guided walks in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales plus a programme of town walks and book events in the original Richmond in Yorkshire.  Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Richmond and here is Richmond Walking and Book Festival’s own website.        

28 Sep – 27 Oct            South Lincolnshire Walking Festival

The South Lincolnshire Walking Festival returns for its 5th year, offering walks for all ages and abilities on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  Accommodation can be found at The Viking Centre and here is  South Lincolnshire Walking Festival’s own website.    

    Ross on Wye Walking Festival
Ross on Wye Walking Festival



5th-12th Oct                 Crieff and Strathearn Drovers Tryst Walking Festival, Perthshire

The 18th anniversary of this very popular walking festival will include the usual mix of challenging walks, easier interest walks along with a full social programme in the evenings, all set in the stunning Perthshire autumnal scenery.  Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Crieff and Strathearn  and here is Crieff and Strathearn Drovers Tryst Walking Festival’s own website.

10-13 Oct                        Hay Walking Festival, Powys

The Hay on Wye Walking Festival is a celebration of two-footed fun in and around the beautiful border town of Hay on Wye.  We warmly invite you to join us from Thursday 10th to Sunday 13th October 2019 to enjoy our lush countryside, stunning hills and to step into our beautiful town of independent shops, a proudly chain-store free destination. Our walks programme, will be broad ranging in terms of geography and interest.  There is something for all abilities and interests – all day in the hills, town walks, historical walks, a chance to learn from experts and exclusive access to paths and sites not normally open to the public.  Accommodation can be found on our map of accommodation near Hay and here  is  Hay Walking Festival’s own website.    

Dark Sky Areas: Accommodation in Hostels and Bunkhouses

Our wonderful small island is home to a surprising number of dark sky areas, where light pollution is kept under control and where, when conditions are right, visitors can feast their eyes on the wonders of a star filled night sky. Unsurprisingly these are sparsely populated areas, often rugged and remote. Fortunately they are well served with independent hostels, camping barns and bunkhouses offering great value self catering accommodation to individuals, families or groups of all sizes.

A Dark Sky Park at night

Perhaps the most well known of our Dark Sky Parks is Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, (a combination of Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water and Forest Park). This was awarded Dark Sky status by the International Dark Sky Association in December 2013. At 572 square miles (1,483 square kilometres) it is also Europe’s largest area of protected night sky. Due to its pristine skies it was awarded gold tier status by the International Dark Sky Association, making it officially the best place in England for people to go to enjoy the night skies. Here in the darker months of the year, visitors will be able to see up to 2,000 stars, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way. If you strike lucky you might also witness a meteor shower or the Northern Lights (aurora borealis). Take a look at the map and you will see you have a choice of 12 independent hostels, bunkhouses or camping barns situated in or on the very edge of Northumberland’s International Dark Sky Park.

Northumberland Dark Sky Park
A star filled sky in Northumberland Dark Sky Park

The UK’s first ever international Dark Sky Park was Galloway Forest Park in south west Scotland. It was designated by the International Dark Sky Association in November 2009 as only the fourth Dark Sky Park in the world and the first in the UK. Just like Northumberland it enjoys gold tier status. Close to Galloway Forest Park the small town of Moffat was proud to be named as Europe’s very first Dark Sky Town, having adopted special street lighting to keep light pollution to a minimum in order to preserve the wondrous starry skies. There is hostel accommodation on the edge of Galloway Forest Park and in Moffat.

A Dark Sky over Tryfan near Ogwen Valley Bunkhouse
A magnificent dark sky over Tryfan near Ogwen Valley Bunkhouse

Wales is also blessed with large areas of low light pollution. The Snowdonia National Park and The Brecon Beacons National Park are both International Dark Sky Reserves, while the Elan Valley Dark Sky Park runs between them. In 2017 the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park had 4 locations designated as Dark Sky Discovery Sites. These areas are literally peppered with hostel, bunkhouse or camping barn accommodation. There is little excuse for not crossing a star gazing weekend in Wales off your bucket list!

In Snowdonia, Cregennan Lakes are recommended as a great place to stargaze. These sister lakes are found on the flanks of Cader Idris in southern Snowdonia, possibly the moodiest mountain in the entire National Park. The easiest approach is from the east, via the minor road from Dolgellau, only a short drive from Plas Isa Hostel. While the aptly named Star Bunkhouse in the village of Bwlch in the Brecon Beacons is just down the road from Llangorse Lake, identified by the International Dark Skies Association as a prime site for viewing the night sky.

In the south of England both Exmoor National Park and the South Downs National Park have International Dark Sky Reserve status. While in the north, the North York Moors and the Forest of Bowland AONB in Lancashire both host a number of newly designated Discovery Sites.

Dark Sky above Dale House Barn, Gisburn Forest
Star gazers in the garden of Dale House Barn, Gisburn Forest (Forest of Bowland ANOB)

In the north of Scotland, the high quality of the night skies above Tomintoul and Glenlivet in the Cairngorms National Park merit the area becoming Scotland’s second International Dark Sky Park. Awarded Gold Tier status by the International Dark-Sky Association, the Tomintoul and Glenlivet – Cairngorms Dark Sky Park is not only the darkest Dark Sky Park in the UK, it is also the most northern Dark Sky Park in the world.

Aurora Borealis on the Isle of Coll, home to Isle of Coll Bunkhouse
Aurora Borealis on the Isle of Coll, home to Coll Bunkhouse

Finally the Isle of Coll, together with the Isle of Sark have been designated as Dark Sky communities.
In our busy, frenetic and crowded world it is heartening to realise there are so many areas where sheep out number people, where flora and fauna flourish and where you can raise your eyes skywards after a day’s activity and feast your eyes on infinity and beyond!

St Oswald’s Way: Hostel and Bunkhouse Accommodation

St Oswald’s Way is a 97 mile long distance walking route. Opened in 2006 it stretches from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in the north down to Heavenfield on Hadrian’s Wall in the south.  The route will take you through some of the finest scenery Northumberland has to offer.  St Oswald’s Way is a walk of variety and history with plenty to keep you interested. From Lindisfarne you follow the coastline as far south as Warkworh passing iconic castles, rugged coastline, spectacular beaches and islands on the way.

St Oswald's Way. Hostel & Bunkhouse Accommodation
Lindisfarne at the start of St Oswald’s Way

The route then takes you inland along Coquet valley to Rothbuy and on to the finish at Heavenfield. On this stretch of the walk you will pass hills and moorland, picturesque villages, forest and rolling farmland.  St Oswald’s Way links three historic sites associated with the early 7th century Northumbrian King and Saint whose name it takes. The Holy Island of Lindisfarne where he founded a monastery that became the ‘cradle of Christianity in England’, Bamburgh which was his royal capital and Heavenfield where he camped before his victory at the battle that made him King.

St Oswald's Way, Hostel and bunkhouse accommodation
Bamburgh, St Oswald’s royal capital

The route is well served with independent hostels and bunkhouses offering great value accommodation.  With walkers in mind, one night stop overs are easily booked and packed lunches can often be provided (with a little notice). You can either self cater in the communal kitchens or your hosts will recommend local cafés or pubs for your meals.

Seahouses Hostel on St Oswald's Way, Northumberland
Seahouses Hostel. Providing overnight accommodation for walkers on St Oswald’s Way.

Far less touristy than the honeypot destinations, Northumberland and St Oswald’s Way have so much to offer.  Stunning scenery, dark skies and a well signed new route which takes you from the iconic coastline through sheltered river valleys up to the atmospheric high moorland. All this without crowds of fellow walkers.

St Oswald's Way. Hostel and bunkhouse accommodation
The stunning deserted landscape crossed by St Oswald’s Way as it heads inland.

Much more vital information is available from St Oswald’s Way Official Guidebook.




Sandstone Way: Hostels and Bunkhouses

The Sandstone Way, opened in 2015, is a 120 mile mountain biking route running the length of Northumberland between Hexham in the south and Berwick upon Tweed in the north. The route takes riders across an ever-changing landscape, rich in history, geology and iconic scenery. In the north it runs along a sandstone ridge linking numerous sandstone crags and outcrops, hence the name, The Sandstone Way.

Sandstone Way. Hostel & Bunkhouse Accommodation

Both Hexham and Berwick upon Tweed have railway stations. Between these two towns, the route passes through numerous villages and small communities including Wooler, Rothbury and Bellingham. It has been designed with safe river, main road and railway crossings.

Sandstone Way, accommodation at Demesne Farm, Bellingham
Demesne Farm Bunkhouse on The Sandstone Way at Bellingham

The Sandstone Way was designed by Ted Liddle specifically for mountain bikers and as much of the route as possible is off-road. It will appeal to riders of all abilities and most will take 3 or 4 days to complete it. The ‘fit and the fast’ could possibly ride the route in 2 days but in all probability most would wish they had taken 3 days. The route is clearly way marked with a distinctive green logo roundel.

Sandstone Way, accommodation at Wooler Youth Hostel
Wooler Youth Hostel, also on  the route, where providing accommodation to cyclists is part of the culture.

On and near to the route are many independent hostels and bunkhouses offering great value accommodation. Those on or just off the route are perfect for your overnight stopovers. Whereas those nearer to the coast or to tourist towns such as Alnwick, of Hatty Potter fame, are great if some of the family are riding the route and the others want to visit local attractions or spend a day on the beach.

More information about this exciting route can be found on the official Sandstone Way website.  Maps can be purchased from Northern Heritage Services


D of E Accommodation : Bunkhouses and Camping Barns

D of E’s rules have recently changed and they now allow participants doing the Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards to stay in camping barns or bunkhouses. Their website now states as one of ‘The 20 Conditions of Expeditions’ that ‘Accommodation must be by camping or other simple self-catering accommodation (e.g. camping barns or bunkhouses)’.  Independent Hostels have a network of camping barns and bunkhouses all over the UK that fit this new DofE condition perfectly. With prices starting at £11 per person per night they won’t break the bank.

Puttenham Camping Barn on the North Downs Way passed by many DofE walkers every summer
Puttenham Eco Camping Barn on the North Downs Way passed by many D of E walkers every summer

Situated in the typical areas for D of E expeditions, these independent camping barns and bunkhouse are often close to footpaths and quiet roads.  They have traditionally been used mainly  by walkers, cyclists and mountain bikers because of their unique locations.  Generally small and compact, your DofE group could book the either the whole place or a dormitory for their sole use.


Fisher Gill Camping Barn ideal for DofE expeditions in the Lake District
Fisher Gill Camping Barn in Thirlmere at the foot of the Helvellyn range of mountains in the Lake District. Another great place for D of E groups to stay.

Camping barns are generally more basic than bunkhouses.  Some are little more than a stone tent with sleeping platforms and a cooking area. The D of E participants would need to bring their own mats, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, food etc.  In fact pretty much everything except their tent.  Quite a few of the camping barns listed below belong to the National Trust and are on National Trust estates.  If you are wanting your DofE group to have an overnight experience as close to camping as possible,  then a stay in a camping barn (sometimes also called a bothy) would be the best option.  Many don’t have electricity or heating other than a fire or log burner.

Sleeping platforms at Carrshield Camping Barn in Northumberland, ideal for DofE groups
Sleeping platforms at Carrshield Camping Barn in Northumberland.

Bunkhouses come in all shapes and sizes and generally offer a better standard of accommodation than a camping barns.  There will be bunk beds in dormitories, a self catering kitchen with crockery and cooking equipment,  hot water and showers.  The bunkhouses listed below do not provide bedding, so your D of E group will still need to carry a sleeping bag.

Bunks at Hagg Farm in the Peak District ensure a dry night's sleep for DofE participants
Bunks at Hagg Farm Outdoor Centre in the Peak District ensure a dry night’s sleep

There are many more bunkhouses in the Independent Hostel Network that do provide bedding as a standard, these are not listed below but it may well  be worth looking at them too as they may be in just the right location for an overnight stay.   If you search by the location you are looking to stay in on any of Independent Hostel’s website pages all the possible accommodation in that area will come up.

DofE campers enjoying an evening at Pindale Farm in the Peak District
DofE campers enjoying an evening at Pindale Farm in the Peak District

You might also be interested in a group of hostels and bunkhouses that have campsites on the same site.  Good examples of this are Pindale Farm in the heart of  The Peak District or Garrigill Village Hall just off the Pennine Way (and many other footpaths) in Cumbria. These hostels with campsites are very popular with with D of E groups, traditionally the leaders have tended to stay in the hostel while the participants have camped.  With the rule change of course everyone can now stay within four stone walls.

Don’t let the British weather ruin your next D of E expedition.  Book into an independent camping barn or bunkhouse to guarantee a dry night’s sleep.  The participants will be in much better spirits to face the challenges of the next day.



Dales High Way: Hostel and Bunkhouse Accommodation

The Dales High Way is a challenging and inspirational 90 mile walk across the stunning hills of the Yorkshire Dales. It starts at Saltaire, a World Heritage model village in the City of Bradford and takes you to Appleby-in-Westmorland.  The Dales High Way runs roughly parallel to the iconic Settle to Carlisle railway, so walkers can use the railway to walk sections of the route and travel back to their hostel or bunkhouse accommodation. The railway also provides by far your best return route to Saltaire and is a great boost for non-walking companions and for rest days as it allows easy access to many interesting places.

Ribbelshead Viaduct on the Dales High Way
The iconic Ribblehead Viaduct on the Dales High Way

The Dales High Way route is one of variety and interest, it follows ancient trade routes, green lanes and pack horse tracks.  With 4,268 m (14,003 ft) of ascent it is not a route for the novice walker.  As the name implies, the Dales High Way keeps to the high ground, so is definitely a walk for the better weather months of the year.  Walking the Dales High Way you will leave the hustle and bustle of Bradford and cross wild and lonely moorland, you will walk alongside iconic limestone scars and descend to follow the meandering banks of the River Ribble.  You will climb to the summit of Ingleborough, one of the legendary Yorkshire Three Peaks and the highest point of the route at 724 m (2,375 ft) and skirt Whernside (another of the Yorkshire Three Peaks).

Ingelborough on the Dales High Way and close to Gauber Bunk Barn
Ingleborough the highest point of the Dales High Way and close to Gauber Bunk Barn

Experienced walkers, helped by the proximity of the Settle to Carlisle railway, can easily deviate from the official route and tag the third summit of the Three Peaks, Pen y Ghent to their unique version of the ‘Dales My Way’!

Broadrake Bunkbarn on the Dales High Way
Broadrake Bunkbarn, Chapel-le-Dale, offers luxury bunk house accommodation on the Dales High Way

Leaving the Three Peaks and the Ribblehead Viaduct behind you will head towards Sedburgh and from there to a mind-blowing 6 mile ridge walk across the Howgill Fells. Your final descent will lead you to the welcome fertile green meadows of the Eden Valley and the picturesque market town of Appleby.

Howgills Barn on the Dales High Way near Sedburgh. A bunkhouse with a hot tub. Perfect after a hard day’s walking!

The Dales High Way was conceived by husband and wife Tony and Chris Grogan in 2007, as a high-level alternative to the Dales Way which runs from Ilkley to Windermere largely along Wharfedale and other valleys.  They have published the definitive route guide  and run the route’s official website. Other useful information can be found on the Walking Englishman’s website. 

The 90 mile Dales High Way route will take anything between 5 and 8 days and there is a wonderful choice of independent hostel and bunkhouse accommodation along it.  Whether you are a hardy solitary walker, a couple or family or a large walking group there will be hostels and or bunkhouses to suit.  For more details check out the each hostel listed below.


Snowdonia Slate Trail : Hostel and Bunkhouse Accommodation

The Snowdonia Slate Trail is an 83 mile circular walking route which leads you through the awe-inspiring landscape of Snowdonia National Park.  As the name implies it takes you through a number of Snowdonia’s slate villages and allows you to explore the rich industrial heritage of the area. The trail leads you through some of the less visited parts of Snowdonia and offers you a variety of experiences.  Passing though all the main mountains ranges,  you will also walk through forests and valleys, past rivers and lakes. En route you pass through  tiny slumbering hamlets as well as the bustling towns of Llanberis and Betws Coed. The Slate Trail is a walk of contradictions, with plenty to keep you interested.

Snowdonia Slate Trail with lots of Independent Hostels providing self catering accommodation
Industrial heritage on the Snowdonia Slate Trail

The Snowdonia Slate Trail is also a joy for narrow gauge railway enthusiasts, as it visits the Penrhyn Quarry Railway, Llanberis Lake Railway, Snowdon Mountain Railway, the Welsh Highland Light Railway and the Ffestiniog Railway. What better way to break up your day’s walking with a ride on steam train?

The good news is that there is a great choice of Independent Hostels to stay in when you plan to walk the Slate Trail. See a full list of them below.

The official route starts at Porth Penrhyn near Bangor and ends at Bethesda and takes you through or near the villages of  Llanllechid, Bethesda, Dinorwig, Llanberis, Waunfawr, Nantlle, Rhyd Ddu, Beddgelert, Croesor, Ffestiniog and Penmachno.  Great for stocking up on provisions and stopping for a well deserved rest, a cup of tea (or something stronger) and a large slice of cake!  Covering 83 miles with a total ascent of 4159m it should take between 5 and 13 days.  Its well worth visiting Mud and Routes and also the Snowdonia Slate Trail website for a wealth of information. There is  also a detailed book and map of the route.

Yorkshire Three Peaks : Accommodation near Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough

The Three Peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in Yorkshire have been made famous by the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, a Marathon in the Mountains.  Victoria Wilkinson, winner of the ladies race for the past 5  years  recommends that anyone training for the Challenge should include a weekend recce of the route  She recommends a stay in one of the bunkbarns with a group of friends as a great way to do this.

Of course you do not need to bring a group of friends for your trip, as many of the bunkhouses in the area provide accommodation for individuals, whether in a great value dorm or a more luxury private room.  Whichever you choose the self catering facilitates available in the bunkhouses will make your stay good value. Your bunkhouse or hostel will often also provide a place to leave your car, with many bunkhouses being right on the route.

The area around the three peaks is wild and off The Challenge route there are miles of empty paths to explore. With the wide choice of luxury and great value bunkhouses available, why not take the time to explore more of the area?  With hostels strategically placed along the route you can walk the Three Peak Challenge in a gentle two days and take in all the scenery has to offer.  Or even better leave the route entirely and explore this classic wilderness area without the crowds to distract you.

This Marathon in the Mountains is a blue-riband event of the fell running calendar. The races takes on three highest mountains in Yorkshire – Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough over 23.3miles and over 1600m of ascent, quite a daunting prospect!  There’s some great advice from the National Park Authority on how to keep this event sustainable here.

Hostels in Bristol : Great places to stay in Bristol City Centre

There is a wide choice of great value hostel accommodation in the city centre of Bristol.  There are hostels a stone’s throw from Bristol Bus Station, walking distance from Temple Meads Railway Station and only meters away from local bus stops.  Bristol’s best shopping is all around, whether you want the independent shops of Park Street and Clifton, the big name brands in Cabot Circus or quirky market stalls in St Nicholas’s Market.   Bristol’s historic harbour side, only a five minute stroll to the city centre,  has shops, restaurants,  museums and art.   HMS Great Britain and the Bristol Suspension Bridge, created by the ground breaking engineer, Isamabard Kingdom Brunel, now provide great attractions for sightseers from across the world.  Bristol famous cultural district of Stokes Croft is great for quirky arts and the whole city centre features the street art that Banksy has made the city famous for.

Hostels not only provide budget city centre accommodation, they also have plenty of opportunities to get to know like-minded people from around the world.  Some have live venues on site, art markets that visit or run events such as wood-fired Pizza night and city exploring pub crawls.  Accommodation is available in private rooms or in great value dorms. Self catering facilities are on sight and there are plenty of eating out opportunities in the hostels or the streets around them.

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 of a castle. Some, like Totters in Caernarfon are literally next door nestling in the shadows of the historic castle walls, others like  Castle Rock Hostel in Edinburgh are a mere street away and the majestic view of the castle greets you from the windows and as you leave the front door. While Craig Y Nos Castle in the Brecon Beacons National Park has a hostel in its grounds and hostel guests are welcome into the castle for hearty meals, cosy evenings by the wood burning stoves and a free history tour.

Castle Rock Hostel dwon the road form Edinburgh Castle
Castle Rock Hostel with Edinburgh Castle just down the road

Castles spark the imagination in everyone.  The thick walls and narrow stone stairways instantly transport you to medieval times. The era of knights in shining armour.  Children love nothing better than to explore the ancient rooms, race around the ruins and grounds and see the weapons on display.  Overseas visitors are often overwhelmed by the sheer age, number and  variety of castles we have in the UK.  Surely one of the best social media posts is one of you in front of an iconic castle. One of the firm favourites is Alnwick Castle in Northumberland which was Hogwarts in in the Harry Potter Films and Brancaster Castle in Downton Abbey. With Alwnick Youth Hostel a few minutes’ walk from the castle, offering family friendly 4* self catering accommodation, there is no excuse not to visit.

Alnwick Castle near to Alnwick Youth Hostel
Alnwick Castle, Northumberland with Alnwick Youth Hostel just 8 minutes’ walk away.

There are so many  iconic castles with independent hostel accommodation nearby.  Independent hostels provide great value, self catering accommodation for individuals, families and groups. With communal kitchens, dining and relaxing areas they are great places for meeting people and are wonderfully flexible as there is normally no minimum length of stay.  Why not plan your tour of castles and stay in independent hostels along the way?

Here are just a few ideas:

Totters hostel next door to Caernarfon Castle, wales

Totters hostel in a 200 year old 5 floored town house next to Caernarfon Castle, Wales

Craig Y Nos castel with hostel / bunkroom accommodation and B&B

Craig Y Nos Castle Hostel and B&B in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales. With a hostel in the grounds, guests are welcome into the castle for hearty meals, cosy evenings by the wood burning stoves and a free history tour.

If you are travelling to the Brecon Beacons from The Midlands  you might well decide to divert to the market town of  Ledbury and visit the impressive Eastnor Castle, which has plenty to do for all the family and which like Craig Y Nos is a 19th century revival castle.  Should you want to stop over there are two local independent hostels to choose from; there’s Woodside Lodges Bunkhouse and Berrow House Bunkhouse

Inveraray Castle close to Inverary Hostel

Inveraray Castle, on the western shore of Loch Fyne, Argyll, Scotland is just a 7 minute walk from Inveraray Hostel.  This cosy hostel, sleeps 22 across 10 rooms and is just one and a half hour’s drive from Glasgow airport.

While you are visiting Scottish castles you might want to take extend your tour to include visiting the ruins of Muness castle on the Isle of Unst,  the most northerly of the Shetland Isles. Self catering hostel accommodation can be found at Gardiesfauld Hostel which is just 1.5 miles away.  Or  stop for a night or two at the Highland Heavan which is a short coastal walk from the The Queen Mother’s former home, the Castle of Mey.

Bamburgh Castle close to Seahouses Hostel on the Northumberland Coast

The iconic Bamburgh Castle on the Northumberland coast has Seahouses Hostel, The Hides and Springhill Bunkhouse close by.

Kendal Castle close to Kendal Hostel in the Lake District National Park

While the majestic ruins of 800 year old Kendal Castle in the Lake District is just 15 mins’ walk from Kendal Hostel.

Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness adn close to Loch Ness Backpackers Hostel

The stunning Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness is the third most visited castle in Scotland (after Edinburgh and Stirling).  The closest accommodation is Loch Ness Backpackers Lodge

Tretower Court & Castle close to Star Bunkhouse Star Bunkhouse in the Brecon Beacons National park, Wales

Tretower Court & Castle in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales is a short drive or a scenic walk of 3 miles away from Star Bunkhouse .

For those of you wanting to visit the South of England why not visit the seaside town of Swanage, stay in Swanage Auberge Bunkhouse and visit the ruins of Corfe castle?

If it’s a visit to a Royal castle you are dreaming of, Highland Haven offering hostel accommodation on the very northern coast of the Scottish Mainland is just a short walk to the Castle of Mey, the Queen Mother’s former home.  While Ballater Hostel and Braemar Lodge Bunkhouse are just a short scenic drive to the Queen’s Scottish residence at Balmoral.

These are just a few ideas. Listed below are all the hostels and bunkhouses in the independent hostel network that are close to a castle.  If you love visiting castles, try staying at independent hostels for great value, friendly, self catering accommodation.

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, near Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands,  Hagg Farm Outdoor Education Centre,  John Hunt Base,  Mount Cook Adventure Centre, Thornbridge Outdoors, all in or very near to The Peak District National Park. Brancaster Activity Centre, on the coast in Norfolk. Humphrey Head Group Hostel overlooking Morcambe Bay on the southern edge of the Lake District.

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!