Readers like to hear about people’s holiday experiences and Google loves new text and photos.
To provide this extra content IHUK has a team of travel writers and photographers who blog for us as part of their holidays. These articles are featured our homepage and on the accommodations feature, promoted on our social media and indexed by google.
The blog is not a review, it is story about someone’s holiday and the things they did in the area. Google notices the names of local attractions, landmarks and activities in the blog and each blog is linked to the hostel or bunkhouse where the blogger stayed.
You can also ask one of your guests to write a blog about their holiday and send it to us. All we need is around 600 words of text and some cheerful photos.
Get in touch using our contact form if you are interested in joining our team of travel writers.
Let us know the name or area of the accommodation you’re interested in and your preferred dates for the visit. Give us as much notice as possible as it can take a while to set up.
We will approach the hostel(s) concerned and ask if they are interested in your blog. If dates can be agreed we put you in touch with the hostel and wait with excitement for your bog to arrive by email.
Bloggers need to provide around 600 words of text and between 5 and 15 photos. These should be sent to us within two weeks of your visit.
Our experienced bloggers get more approvals then first time bloggers, but keep trying, as once you have your first blog online more hostels will agree to host you.
Why not hire a hostel or bunkhouse this New Year?
New Year’s Eve is a time for celebrating with friends and family. Why restrict yourself to a small New Year’s celebration, when you can hire a whole hostel or bunkhouse and invite everybody? Hostels and bunkhouses offer great value New Year accommodation for groups of all sizes. What fun it will be to meet all together in your hostel, in a new and exciting location. With the hard work and stress of Christmas behind you, now’s the time to relax and unwind. Traditionally of course, New Year celebrations are alcoholic in nature. But they needn’t be. You could spend the day blowing away the Christmas cobwebs walking on beautiful deserted beaches or in rugged mountain scenery. Then spend the evening cooking and eating together and relaxing in front of the warmth of a log burner. You could always stay in a picturesque rural market town and join in with local quirky New Year’s traditions. Alternatively stay in one of our city hostels and hit the sales or take in the culture.
There are hostels in all sorts of wonderful locations and in all shapes and sizes.
You are sure to find the accommodation are looking for.
You can choose to stay in mountains, seaside or village locations. Or take a break in one of our city centre hostels and be right where the action is as the strike of midnight. There are bunkhouses and hostels in stunning rural locations all over the UK. The ones shown on the map above all provide accommodation with availability this New Year for you to hire exclusively. But please don’t delay. Accommodation at New Year gets booked up quickly. Act now to avoid disappointment.
All the hostels and bunkhouse have self-catering facilities. The great advantage of self-catering accommodation is that it allows you to be flexible over meals. Eat in if you fancy, or go out for a treat. The self-catering kitchens allow your group to share the cooking. The great variety of New Year accommodation means there will be something perfect for your group or extended family, whatever their size or room requirements. With large dining rooms and big pans in the kitchens, the group accommodation provided by bunkhouses and hostels is perfect for sharing a meal together. There are often large tables, ideal for group dining. Kids love the freedom of a large house or converted barn to explore. While adults enjoy the opportunity to relax without worry. Always be sure to check that the hostel has the facilities you need when you book.
Hire a hostel this New Year and extend your celebrations over a couple days.
Why not make this New Year extra special. Instead of the traditional New Year’s Eve Party, which is often over all to quickly, you can hire a hostel and spend a couple of days having great fun together. Get out in the fresh air in the daytime and gather together in the evening for a meal together and a few drinks. There are many bunkhouses and hostels within walking distance of a pub or a town centre for the important New Year’s Eve celebration.
Many hostels are located in wonderful surroundings. Ideal for a winter walk. What’s more many hostels are dog friendly, so there is no need to leave your four legged friend behind. ( Please always be sure to check with the hostel before booking).
With New Year marking the end of the Christmas holidays many people use our New Year accommodation to get away for a few days before starting the daily routine again.
Tips for a great New Year Eve celebration and house party in our New Year accommodation:-
Make sure to book in advance– As our hostels are very sought after at New Year.
Get everyone together -To discuss what food you are all taking, whose cooking which meals and plans for places to explore.
Plan to enjoy the fresh air and rural settings– Pack your winter coats and boots as there are numerous beautiful places to explore around our hostels.
Research where you are going – There are numerous fun activities to take part in around our hostels, so there’s no excuse for staying indoors all the time. If you are unsure of where to look or need ideas just ask the hostel you are staying at. They will all be very happy to help.
Blow the Christmas cobwebs away- Most of our hostels are situated in areas of breath taking natural beauty- with astonishing walks. Why not plan to go on a family walk on New Year’s Day?
Don’t try and do everything- If you are responsible for cooking and hosting the New Year’s house party, then don’t take it all upon yourself. Why not ask other family members or friends to bring different parts of the meal?
Sit back, relax and enjoy New Year.
Warning- You may enjoy it so much you will want to hire a hostel again for next New Year’s celebrations!
Where will you and your family go this Christmas?
We all know Christmas is a time for family, but uniting the whole extended family in the same place can often be a difficult job. Do you go to them or do they come to you? Where will they all fit? Do you book a table and have dinner out (which can be very expensive) or do you opt for the traditional Christmas dinner at home? Then there is the age old problem of who is going to drive home. Some of your guests will have to miss out on the festive tipple if they are on driving duty.
One obvious solution is to find some Christmas accommodation. Increasingly many families are turning to hostels and bunkhouses for great value accommodation at Christmas time. The hostels and bunkhouses on the map above are all open at Christmas and have room for everyone with self catering facilities and large dining and sitting rooms.
If you hire the whole hostel or bunkhouse (which is what we would recommend), you will have all the facilities to yourself. The hostel or bunkhouse becomes yours for the Christmas period, a proper home from home, with space for all the generations. What fun it will be to wake up on Christmas morning all together, sharing the fun and laughter from the very start of the day. Preparations for the big Christmas meal can be shared among everyone with no one person being the host and feeling responsible for the day.
Christmas accommodation at Hardraw Bunkhouse
Why not rent a hostel or bunkhouse big enough for all the family this Christmas?
The festive season is the perfect occasion to spend time with your family and closest friends. Renting a hostel or bunkhouse is one of the most economical ways to get the accommodation you need to host everyone in a stunning location. Independent hostels range from large country houses to farm bunkhouses with all manner of barn and house conversions, purpose built eco hostels and many more in between.
You will find them all over the country, from the far north of Scotland and the Scottish Isles to Lands End and the Scilly Isles. From rugged coastal locations to hostels perched on mountain sides, from vibrant city centre hostels and bunkhouses to accommodation among rolling hills and quaint market towns. Wherever you fancy spending your Christmas you should fine a hostel or bunkhouse nearby. Have a look at the map above to see for yourself where the independent hostels and bunkhouses open at Christmas are located.
All the hostels and bunkhouses which are open this Christmas have self catering facilities. They invariably will have large dining tables, ideal or seating the whole family for the big Christmas dinner, and a kitchen designed for catering for large numbers. (As each hostel is unique, always be sure to check that their facilities are adequate for your group when you book). The hostels’ self catering facilities make sharing all the food preparation tasks between family members really easy. Everyone from young to old will have the opportunity to contribute. Picture yourselves on Christmas Eve, sitting around the big table. Everyone peeling the vegetables with festive music playing in the background. It may well be worth packing a few extra vegetable peelers. You wouldn’t want to leave anyone without a job!
Where will we all sleep?
Sleeping accommodation in independent hostels and bunkhouses is generally in bunk beds. Many hostels also have private rooms with standard beds which are ideal for the older generation. What’ s more the bunk beds are often in normal sized bedrooms, with a choice of 2, 4 or 6 bunks per room quite usual. This is ideal for a gatherings of families, when each family can have their own bedroom whist sharing the dining and lounging areas to celebrate together. Or you can allocate rooms just for the children. What fun to have a room full of bunks for all the children in your party. After all no one needs to go to bed early at Christmas! As always, you are advised to check the facilities; the number and arrangement of the beds with the individual hostels and bunkhouses before you book.
How much will it cost?
The costs of renting a whole bunkhouse or hostel for your Christmas holiday are very low, especially if you rent an ideal sized hostel or bunkhouse for your family group. Our range of hostels and bunkhouses can offer you everything from basic accommodation if that’s what you want, to luxury bunkhouses where there is no necessity to compromise on comfort. Log burners are a common feature. They provide a lovely, festive focal point in the shared living space. Often luxury accommodation is provided cheaply simply because there are more people sleeping in each bedroom.
Don’t delay. Christmas is coming.
Hostel and bunkhouse accommodation soon gets snapped up over the Christmas period.
Contact any of the accommodation providers shown above direct or why not make a group enquiry using our Group Enquiry system. Click on the link below. If you want to explore the possibilities of booking hostel or bunkhouse accommodation for the New Year, for the festive season next year or are looking for accommodation on other dates, the group enquiry system will make your search for the perfect accommodation so much easier.
Make a Group Enquiry about accommodation.
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.
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.
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!
Walking festivals in England, Scotland and Wales.
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.
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.
4th-6th May Llangollen Walking Festival, Denbighshire
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.
1st-9th June Gower Walking Festival, West Glamorgan
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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’!
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.
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.
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.
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 the Snowdonia Slate Trail website for a wealth of information. There is also a detailed book and map of the route.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 in a 200 year old 5 floored town house next to Caernarfon Castle, Wales
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 Woodside Lodges Bunkhouse provides ideal accommodation.
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.
While the majestic ruins of 800 year old Kendal Castle in the Lake District is just 15 mins’ walk from Kendal 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 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 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
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
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 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.