Hostels and Bunkhouses near Mountains : Accommodation in Scotland, Wales & England

Hostels and Bunkhouses in the Mountains.

The mountains of England, Scotland and Wales boast a wonderful selection of hostels and bunkhouses, which offer great value self-catering accommodation in stunning mountain locations. These hostels and bunkhouses have grown up over the years to meet the accommodation needs of the hundreds and thousands of visitors to the UK’s spectacular mountain ranges such as the Cairngorms and the Grampians in Scotland, the Cumbrian Mountains and the Pennines in England and Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons in Wales.

Skiddaw Mountain in the Lake District
Skiddaw Mountain in the Lake District

In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, a mountain is usually defined as any summit at least 2,000 feet (or 610 metres) high, whilst the official UK government’s definition of a mountain, for the purposes of access, is a summit of 600 metres or higher.

Self-catering Accommodation for Mountain Adventurers.

Whatever you passion, be it mountaineering, hill-walking, rock climbing, skiing, snow boarding, ice climbing, scrambling, mountain biking, Munro or Wainwright bagging, golf, canoeing, kayaking  or canyoning you are sure to find a hostel or bunkhouse close to your chosen area.  Use the map above (enlarge it as necessary) as a quick and easy way of finding the closest accommodation to the area you want to visit.

Planning mountain walks

Many of these hostels have been specifically designed with mountain sport enthusiasts in mind.  Indeed some are run by mountain guides and offer guiding and lots of advice. Others are outdoor activity centres and you can hire equipment and provide instruction.   The facilities will typically include a boot room, drying facilities, equipment storage, robust central heating, plenty of hot water and large comfortable bunks.  Along with a warm welcome, great company and lots of local knowledge.  Click any of the red flags on the map above and you will get to our feature of that hostel or bunkhouse with all relevant details.  Scroll down that page and you can link into the hostel’s own website for even more information.

Hostels and Bunkhouses for Mountain Lovers.

You don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to feel at home in the mountain hostels and bunkhouses.  Almost all the hostels and bunkhouses in the UK’s mountainous regions are accessible by car and provide low cost, self-catering accommodation as you tour the mountain ranges.  Uniquely hostels and bunkhouses are the only type of self-catering accommodation that you can book for just one night.  Of course you can book for much longer too! Photographers, wild life watchers and nature lovers whether they are individuals, families or groups of friends are all frequent visitors to the mountain hostels and bunkhouses in the UK.  You will also find that many hostels and bunkhouses  in the mountain regions also have private and family rooms.

Hostels and Bunkhouses in the Mountains of Scotland

You will find hostels and bunkhouses in all the main Scottish mountain areas.  In the Cairngorms at the eastern edge of the Grampian mountains; around Ben Nevis , the UK’s highest mountain; in Fort William, the spiritual home of downhill mountain biking and near to the Cullin Ridge in Skye, said to make the experienced walker’s heart flutter!

sGerrys Hostel in the Mountains of Scotland

Knoydart Bunkhouse on the remote peninsula of Knoydart is ideal for mountain lovers. Cut off from the Scottish mainland by rugged, mountainous terrain with few paths, Knoydart is home to 3 Munros including mainland Britain’s most westerly, Ladhar Bheinn. A National Scenic Area with miles of stunning walks, both high up and in the glens, Knoydart is also a haven for coastal and land-based wildlife. Bring walking boots and binoculars and you’re set for a holiday to remember.

And if you are a Munro bagger you are sure to find a hostel or bunkhouse close to most of the 282 Munros.  A Munro is defined as a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet (914 metres) in height.  They are named after Sir Hugh Munro who was the first person to compile a list of them in 1891.

 Hostels and Bunkhouses in the Mountains of Wales

There are also plenty of hostels and bunkhouses in the mountainous areas of Wales.  From the map above you will see that these tend to cluster in Snowdonia  and the Brecon Beacons. Both areas are a haven for the mountain lovers amongst us, with a huge range of activities and tourist attractions on hand.  Climbers, walkers, mountain bikers, canoeist and kayakers are all regular visitors to both the Welsh mountains and the local hostels and bunkhouses.

Cambrian Mountains in South Wales
Cambrian Mountains in South Wales

While Bounce Below, deep inside Llechwedd slate caverns,  Zip World Velocity, the longest zip line in Europe and the fastest in the world, the National Whitewater Centre in Bala, Snowdon Mountain Railway in Llanberis are just a few  example of the hundreds of tourist attractions in the Welsh mountains to keep you and your family entertained.

Hostel and Bunkhouses in the Mountains of England

The 48 hostels and bunkhouses in the mountains of England are found mainly in the Lake District with others located in and around the Northumberland National Park, the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District.  The map above will show you their exact location. Once again these hostels and bunkhouses provide all types of visitors to the mountains of England with cost effective and flexible accommodation self-catering accommodation in a stunning mountain setting.

Skiddaw House is one of the most loved mountain hostels.  High up on the shoulder of Skiddaw Mountain this old hunting lodge has been preserved by generations of trusties to provide a warm and comfortable welcome in the wilds of the Lakeland Mountains.

Skiddaw Mountain showing Skiddaw House Independent Hostel
Skiddaw Mountain showing Skiddaw House Independent Hostel

Bring your club or group of friends/family to a mountain hostel or bunkhouse.

Many of the hostels and bunkhouses in our beautiful British mountains can be hired exclusively for your group or party.  These ‘sole use’ bookings  have become more and more popular in recent years, as groups of friends, families and sports clubs enjoy the space and the facilities that these hostels and bunkhouses provide.  Not to mention the very good value for money a ‘sole use’ booking represents.

How about spending a big birthday, Easter, Christmas or New Year with a big group of friends or family in a spectacular mountain location, with stunning views, loads of wild life and wonderful dark skies?  You need look no further….there is sure to be a hostel or bunkhouse to suit your needs.

Mountains of Snowdonia

Hostels and bunkhouses on the Coast : Accommodation by the Sea

Accommodation on the Coast

In the UK there are over 100 hostels and bunkhouses by the sea.  All around our beautiful coastline, from the wild seas of the Cornish coast to the white sands of the Hebrides you will find a whole variety of  bunkhouses and hostels to choose from.  Offering self catering accommodation  with friendly communal kitchens, dining and sitting areas, hostels and  bunkhouses provide the some of the most cost effective places to stay on the coast.


Hostels and bunkhouses by the sea provide great accommodation for inexpensive family seaside holidays
Hostels and bunkhouses by the sea provide great accommodation for inexpensive family seaside holidays

Each bunkhouse and hostel by the sea is unique.  They come in all shapes and sizes, from just 4 or 6 beds to  over 100. Some are in modern purpose built buildings, whereas  others have been converted from former schools, barns, fisherman’s cottages or country houses.

Some hostels and bunkhouses by the seas offer extra accommodation in yurts or  bell tents, while others allow camping in their grounds.  Why not take time to explore the map?  Take your cursor around the coast of Britain and see for yourself all the wonderful places you can stay.

Remember lots of hostel and bunkhouse accommodation can be booked for as short a period as one night. So it is perfect for stop-overs to break your journey or for a touring holiday.  But many guests prefer to stay for longer, to make the most of the idyllic locations so many of these hostels and bunkhouses are in.

Hostel and bunkhouse accommodation often includes small private rooms, which are perfect for families or couples.  While large family gatherings and groups of friends often book the whole hostel or bunkhouse out on a ‘sole use’ basis.  So they can enjoy having the whole building and all its facilities to themselves.

Click on the location pins on the map above to  find out more about the accommodation and get in touch directly with them.

Please remember that our hostel and bunkhouse accommodation on the coast does get booked up quickly, especially in the school holidays.  So don’t be disappointed, start your search now and book your hostel or bunkhouse before it’s too late.


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

Accommodation near to pubs.

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

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

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

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

Why are Hostels near to pubs so popular?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Camping Barns near to pubs are also very popular.

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

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

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



Dog Friendly Accommodation: Dogs in Bunkhouses and Hostels

Dog friendly accommodation in hostels and bunkhouses:

All our dog friendly accommodation is shown on the map above. There are over a hundred dog friendly hostels and bunkhouses in the Independent Hostels network, all welcoming dogs by arrangement.  Our dog friendly accommodation is scattered across the UK from Sussex to the Scottish Highlands, you will even find places to stay with your dog  on some of the Scottish Islands. These dog friendly hostels and bunkhouses  are often in ideal locations for holidays with your dog. There is a wide choice of hostels and bunkhouses in awe-inspiring locations in the National Parks of Britain. Many are dotted along the UK’s stunning coastlines, ideal for coastal walks and most are in rural locations. From your dog friendly accommodation you can explore seaside towns, wild moorlands, historic battlefields and ancient hills. You can walk through woodlands, along picturesque rivers, through hidden villages and across our green and pleasant land.

Bunkhouses and hostels provide great value self catering accommodation.  They are well suited to groups of friends or families and, because they provide accommodation for as short a period as one night, they are ideal for a stop-over to break a long journey. Buy why stay for just one night?  You, your friends and family and your dog will be welcome for as long as you like.

dog friendly deepdale backpackers
Deepdale Groups Hostel in North Norfolk has dog friendly accommodation.

Around a quarter of the accommodation in the Independent Hostels network, that’s over 100 hostels and bunkhouses allow dogs by arrangement. These are all displayed on the map above. On the individual hostel pages look out for the brown dog friendly symbol shown below. This same symbol is used in the printed Independent Hostel Guide. You can send an enquiry to a number of dog friendly hostels using our Send Enquiry service. Look for the ‘Dogs by arrangement’ tick box.

dog friendly symbol
Dog Friendly Symbol

Once you have established that the hostel or bunkhouse you wish to stay in welcomes dogs be sure to pre-arrange your visit with the hostel manager.  Some hostels and bunkhouses have a limited number of dog friendly rooms and the managers will need to check availability.  Other bunkhouses have a policy of only one dog staying at a time, to prevent doggy conflicts. Some of the hostels are on farms where livestock and farm dogs are around, so always keep your canine friends on a lead unless you have been informed otherwise.

A beautiful walk from Knoydart Dog Friendly Bunkhouse, Inverness-shire
A beautiful walk from Knoydart Dog Friendly Bunkhouse, Inverness-shire

Here are some examples of  Dog Friendly Accommodation from the Independent Hostel Guide

Here are some stories from just a few of the hostels and bunkhouses providing dog friendly accommodation in our network. DEEPDALE BACKPACKERS in North Norfolk has dog friendly rooms in the hostel as well as a dog friendly Tipi . Their website also has a guide to the area which tells you about dog friendly pubs, cafés and beaches as well as ideas for walks.

dog friendly accommodation at denton house
Denton House in Keswick welcomes dogs.

Pentre Bach Bunkhouse in Snowdonia is eight minutes’ walk from a local pub which welcomes dogs  in the bar. There is a sheepdog trainer next door and you can often see him training his collies. The accommodation is dog friendly and the 250 yard track to the barn has grassy areas all the way down, ideal for constitutional walks.

Marthrown of Mabie Bunkhouse say “We welcome well-behaved dogs with responsible owners (or vice versa!!)” which always raises a smile! If you think you can behave its well worth the trip to Dumfries!  At Marthrown of Mabie you,  your canine and human  friends can sleep totally surrounded by the Mabie Forest, without a whisper of the noise of modern life.

Gilfach Wen Barn welcomes dogs and is adjacent to the Brechfa Forest and not far from the Brecon Beacons.  The forest is designated as a dog friendly tourism destination by Carmarthenshire County Council because of the wide range of tracks and trails which walkers have the right to roam on through the forest.   What could be better for your lovely long dog walks?

Corris Hostel Dog Friendly
Corris Hostel in Snowdonia welcomes Dogs

New Ing Lodge is on the Coast to Coast path and most of their canine visitors have walked a long way  before reaching them (probably at least twice as far as their owners!).  That’s why there is a dog  bed available, so they too can have a comfortable rest for their tired paws. New Ing Lodge  also has large grounds at the back of the building for the dogs to stretch their legs as well as a walled garden in front of the house, where the owners can let their dogs run off lead.

As you can see there is really no reason at all why you should leave your dog at home or in kennels when holidaying in Independent Hostels. Independent hostels offer great value  self catering accommodation.  They are even better value when you don’t have the extra cost of kenneling on top of your other expenses.   With more than a quarter of the hostels in our network (that’s over 100) offering dog friendly accommodation there is certain to be the right holiday destination for you, your friends, your family and your dog.  So whatever you fancy doing, wherever you fancy going, you’ll find an independent hostel offering dog friendly accommodation.





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

Luxury Bunkhouses and Luxury Camping Barns

Of course all the hostels and bunk houses 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 bunk houses and luxury camping barns put in the extra comfort.  They have well decorated, modern and well equipped kitchens, large dining areas and sumptuous  soft furnishings in the sitting room.

Allendale bunkhouse has a lovely cosy sitting/dining area ideal to lounge around and read a book in!

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


Some of these luxury bunk barns have hot tubs! Imagine bubbling away with a nice glass of wine 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!


A Bunkhouse can take many forms, but all offer a place for you to hang up the boots and put your feet up. Bunkhouses are often found in some of the most stunning locations in the UK and provide a place to stay and really take it all in. Scenic stays for you and your group, all at an affordable price. With the term bunkhouse being so broad you’ve got plenty to choose from, making it easy to find something that’s perfect for you. Maybe you’re looking for large accommodation with room for the whole extended family. Or perhaps you just want somewhere quiet and away from it all.

North Coast 500: The top 15 hostels and bunkhouses

What is the North Coast 500?

North Coast 500 was created in 2015 and has gone on to be a huge success with people from all over the world travelling it every year. And with good reason, the route encourages you to live the adventure and explore the stunning wilderness of the Scottish coastline at your own pace and in your own way.  Everyone’s experience will be different. Do you enjoy the finer things in life such as craft ales from independent breweries and fresh produce from farmers’ markets? Or perhaps you prefer testing your abilities in outdoor sports such as white water rafting and mountain biking? You can tailor your North Coast 500 journey to suit your interests.

How many miles is North Coast 500?

Contrary to its name, Coast 500 is actually 516 miles long. Though the route is not set in stone, it is merely a guide to exploring the wonders of the north coast of Scotland. There is so much to explore that you will wish you could stay longer. Make your NC 500 journey your own. Live a little, venture off the beaten track and see what you can find. Though Wester Ross, Sutherland, Inverness-Shire, Easter Ross and Caithness are a good place to start..

How long does the North Coast 500 take?

Set aside at least 5 days to drive the North Coast 500. Treat yourself and perhaps take some more days to really explore the coastline and all its facets of interest. From mystical, crumbling castles to isolated fishing villages to beaches that wouldn’t look out of place in the Mediterranean. The route has something for everyone.

How busy is the North Coast 500?

The NC500 can be travelled all year round and is one of the most popular long distance routes in the world, the summer months are generally busier than the winter months. Nevertheless, you can tailor the route to your needs; want to see the hustle and bustle of Scottish Highland life? Visit coastal towns and villages such as Plockton or Gairloch and immerse yourself in Scottish culture. Or would you rather lose oneself remoteness of the rugged mountains? The choice is yours.

Best 5 places to visit on the NC 500

Wester Ross is loosely defined as the area on the Northwest highlands of Scotland. Known for its misty, jagged mountains, meandering roads, and sparkling white beaches, Wester Ross has one of the lowest population densities in all of Europe. You are bound to get stunning views of shrouded mountains all to yourself. A trip to Wester Ross would be incomplete without sampling the famous Wester Ross salmon. Hand reared in the oldest salmon farm in Scotland, its unique umami taste will make any other salmon pale in comparison.

beautiful mountains in Wester Ross. The picture is taken from the bottom of the valley looking up at the mountains above
Views you would expect to see in Wester Ross

A large part of the North Coast 500 is located in Sutherland. Known for its dramatic scenery as mountains surge up from the sea. Fairy tale castles and hidden lochs add an air of mystery to the landscape. Why not visit Durness Beach while you are in Sutherland? The beach boasts pristine golden sands and turquoise waters. On a nice day, it’s impossible to resist a paddle!

Durness Beach has beautiful golden sands and blue waters.
Doesn’t Durness Beach look inviting?

Inverness-shire is far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life; its sheer remoteness will have you hooked. Explore tumbling castles such as Eilean Donan Castle. Originally built in the sixth century, it is perched on its own island at the intersection between two sea lochs. It has a rich history of battles and violence and, as a result, has been destroyed and rebuilt a great deal over the past 14 centuries. Nowadays, the castle is much more peaceful and open to the public.

Eilean Donan Castle in Inverness Shire illuminated at night
Eilean Donan Castle illuminated at night

Visit Easter Ross Peninsula, with coastline on three sides, there is no shortage of beautiful trails to explore on Easter Ross. Why not try the Seaboard water trail, a short trail that leads you to five sculptures on the coast of Easter Ross. Ending with the Mermaid of the North. The most northerly mermaid sculpture in all of Scotland. Beautiful and imposing, she is 10 feet tall and unbothered with the relentless waves crashing around her. Or perhaps the Fairy Glen tickles your fancy? There is something magical in these waterfalls.

A fairy glen in easter ross. the image depicts a waterfall flowing down into a pool
The Fairy Glen beckons you to come and visit

Caithness is the most northerly part of Scotland.  It is worth visiting for the dramatic landscapes – much flatter than the rest of Scotland but no less beautiful. You won’t be able to take two steps without running into a stunning castle. Its northerly location and lack of light pollution makes it a great location to see the Aurora Borealis. The best time to see the Aurora Borealis is the winter months as the nights are long and cold.

the Aurora Borealis illuminates the night sky in Caithness. Sending the skye into beautiufl shades of green and blue and purple
The Aurora Borealis illuminates the night sky in Caithness

What to expect from a NC 500 campsite, bunkhouse, or hostel

Increasingly frequently these days, hostels provide a breakfast for guests. From a proper English breakfast to something more continental, be sure to check with the hostel in advance to see if this is a service they provide. Some accommodation provided evening meals too. Such as Bunkhouse @ Invershin Hotel. They provide an evening meal using locally sourced fish and meat alongside vegetables grown in their garden as well as a real cask ale. They also frequently host music nights at their onsite bar.

It is also important to check the location of the hostel prior to arrival as the hostel could be totally remote and a long drive to the nearest open food shop. Equally, you might have your eye on a local restaurant within walking distance of the hostel only to get there to realise there is an impassable mountain standing between you and your evening meal. Talk to the hostel in advance as they will be able to use their local knowledge to recommend where to eat and buy food.

Out on the open road in rural Scotland, phone signal will be patchy to say the least. Many of our hostels aim to provide free WiFi to guests so you can check up with friends and families and post those stunning landscape pics to Instagram! Be sure to check with your hostel in advance though as, more stripped back accommodation such as  camping barns may not provide this service.

Many of our hostel owners are avid outdoor enthusiasts and understand the importance of having your four legged friend by your side for your North Coast 500 adventure. A good deal of NC 500 hostels are pet-friendly. Hostels have varying degrees of dog friendliness, from only allowing them in certain room and on a lease to allowing dogs to sit on furniture and be free reign. It is important to check in advance and let the hostel know your dog is coming as often there is a small extra fee to cover the cost of your dog. For example, Sanachan Bunkhouse allows dogs by arrangement.

Increasingly, hostels provide bedding for guests and if they are not provided it is quite common to be able to hire bedding for a small fee. Though it wouldn’t hurt to pack a sleeping bag in your car just in case especially for more rural bunkhouses and camping barns.

Although hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns are similar in lots of ways such as the self-catering kitchens and shared spaces, the buildings they are in vary greatly. On the NC 500 route, our hostels differ from bunkhouses to campsites and camping barns to hostels and lodges. This rich and varied infrastructure means accessibility within each accommodation will vary. From completely accessible for a person with disabilities with lifts, hand-rails, sit down showers etc throughout to partially accessible. Check out our full list of accessible accommodation here. Always check in advance the accessibility of a property before booking to avoid uncertainty.

North Coast 500 Campsites

We have four campsites located on the North Coast 500 route; Black Rock Bunkhouse is situated in beautiful Glenglass and sheltered by Ben Wyvis, the campsite and caravan park is named after nearby and breath-taking Black Rock Gorge. Taking your caravan or motorhome for the journey? There are spaces for 33 motor homes at Black Rock Caravan Park.  Alternatively, pitch up your tent for a £10 a night and enjoy all the nearby amenities such as hot showers and electricity.

Kyle of Tongue Hostel and Campsite has stunning panoramic views of Castle Varich, Ben Hope and Ben Loyal and is only a short walk from the beach. There is a fully licenced shop on site meaning there’s no need to worry about picking up groceries on the way. This campsite has everything you may need while camping such as a heated toilet block, electricity hook ups and laundry facilities. Camping is a super affordable way to travel this route while getting close to nature and learning about the land.

The Ceilidh Place Bunkhouse is a hub of activity located in Ullapool. The Ceilidh Place Bunkhouse consists of a music venue/performance space, restaurant, hotel, bar, bookshop, coffee room, gallery, bunkhouse and campsite. There is a café open 7 days a week that provides hot food, soups, salads, great coffee and cakes. The perfect stop off when travelling the west coast of Scotland.

Badrallach Bothy and Campsite is located on the peaceful shores of Little Loch Broom. The campsite is the perfect place to pitch up for a few nights and explore the nearby mountains of An Teallach. There is plenty to do in the area such as hike, fish, or look for wildlife. There is space for 12 pitches on a gentle slope so be aware this campsite is not suitable for motorhomes. The campsite has a relaxed vibe and you’ll soon feel at ease once you have pitched your tent next to an abundance of wild flowers and wandered down to the nearby loch for a paddle.

Why you should stay in a hostel throughout your NC 500 journey

Hostels, bunk barns, camp sites and camping barns are much cheaper accommodation choices than hotels or private self-catering accommodation. This is because they tend to be a bit more basic than what you would expect in hotels. But what hostels lack in luxuries they make up in character and a personalised experience.

Use the money you saved on accommodation to make the most of your time in the Scottish Highlands! Book that boat tour! Eat at that restaurant! And still have money to spare.

The communal areas in hostels are amazing places to meet new people with similar mentalities. Share experiences and learn new places you could explore. Heck, you might even find your new travelling companion.

The people who run hostels are passionate about the place they live. They chose to run a hostel in the Scottish Highlands because of their love for the area. Staff in independent hostels are fantastic resources for tips on amazing places located off the beaten path.










Camping Barns and Bothies: What are they used for?

What is a Camping barn?

A camping barn provides basic rural accommodation, converted from traditional stone barns once used to store hay and house livestock.  They are sometimes called a stone tent.  There is no bedding and sometimes only a sleeping shelf to lay your camping mat and sleeping bag on.  There is usually water and a toilet, a table and benches and a safe area for you to use your camping stove.  Some barns have mattresses to sleep on,  others just a sleeping shelf for you to lay your own camping mat on.  Some have  a wood burning stove to gather around in the evening.

Typical camping barn or bothy cooking area
Taddington camping barn (now closed).  A typical cooking area

What is a Bothy in Scotland?

Bothies are remote barns in the mountains and wild areas of  Scotland.  Built as basic overnight shelter for shepherds or fishermen many have been adopted by the Mountain Bothies Association. There is oftern no charge to stay in a bothy and no system for booking. You can turn up to find a simple stone shell or a bothy full of steaming walkers.

Some simple private accommdation in Scotland uses the word Bothy in the accommdation name. So you will find some bothies available to rent in the Independent Hostel Guide.  These are not to be confised with the accommodation maintained by Mountain Bothies Association.

What is it like to stay in a Camping Barn?

Camping Barns offer a memorable way of staying within some stunning scenery.  They are a great alternative to camping with a roof over your head if it rains.

The most developed camping barns have mattresses or bunks, showers and cooking facilities, but many do not.  They are very rural and sometime so remote they have no electricity.  Aimed at the walker who might walk from barn to barn, you can also book a camping barn for the sole use of your group.  They are cheap to hire and  great for family adventures and away from traffic with no decor to worry about.

Alstonefield Camping Barn
Alstonefield Camping Barn

What do I need to bring when I stay in a Camping Barn or Bothy?

Don’t forget if you plan to stay in a camping barn or bothy that you will definitely need to bring your own sleeping bag (sometimes sleeping mat) and usually your own cooking equipment including a camp stove, cutlery and plates.  Some barns and bothies don’t have running water so you may need a water container too.  You will always need warm clothes, walking boots and a torch.

The camping barns and bothies on this page are in the most amazing, remote spots. They are a fantastic opportunity to stay in some of the UK’s most beautiful areas often under dark skies and far from the hustle and bustle of modern life!

This history of Camping Barns in England and Wales

Camping Barns were inspired by the Youth Hostel Association, although they have always been owned and run independently by local farmers.  They were created to provided shelter for walkers and cyclists and often filled the gaps left when a rural  YHA  hostel was closed.   In the early 2000s the YHA started removing some camping barns from their network and in 2017 they stopped supporting all the barns, except for the two properties they owned themselves.  This was part of a wider closure of rural YHA accommodation.

The good news is that many of these privately owned barns and hostels remain open and are still welcoming guests as independent establishments.

A full list of the camping barns open and in the Independent Hostels network can be seen on this page.

YHA Camping Barn at Taddington
YHA Camping Barn at Taddington (closed in 2017 after removal of support from the YHA)

 Puttenham Camping Barn, renamed as Puttenham Barn Bunkhouse remains open.  It was similarly set up by a local Trust wishing to provide economical access to the glorious Surrey countryside.   The farm barns: Northcombe Camping Barns, Edale Camping Barn, Alstonefield Camping Barn all remain open and welcome guests.  Taddingon  Camping Barn decided to close when it lost support from the YHA .

Former YHA Northcombe Camping Barns
Former YHA Northcombe Camping Barns

If you enjoy using simple rural accommodation and would like to see these barns flourish please spread the news that they remain open.  If you post on outdoor sites or have a website of your own, please add the a link to this page to help others find these camping barns.

Former YHA Camping Barn at Puttenham
Former YHA Camping Barn at Puttenham

Lakeland Camping Barns

A group of YHA camping barns in the Lake District joined together to form a local marketing group in the early 2000s, Lakeland Camping Barns.  Lakeland Barns produce their own marketing and have worked with the Independent Hostels network for many years.

Youth Hostels : YHA and former youth hostels in the Independent Hostels network

What is a youth hostel?

In 1909, a German teacher called Richard Schirrmann decided to turn a school that was empty over the summer holidays into a cheap dormitory for travellers on a budget. Within a couple of years, his idea was a raging success and youth hostels were sprouting up all over the world. His aim was to make a space in the world where “Thoughtful young people of all countries could be provided with suitable meeting places where they could get to know each other”

Nowadays, UK youth hostels operate under two enterprises: YHA England and Wales and Hostelling Scotland. Like any hostel, they provide dorm or private room accommodation, self-catering facilities, and communal areas. Their ethos always remained the same; to provide low cost accommodation for travellers looking to explore and meet.

skiddaw house surrounded by heather Can you spot Skiddaw House?

Why do former youth hostels exist?

In the early part of the 21st Century, the Youth Hostel Association UK updated their charitable aim “To help all, especially young people of limited means, to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside” to include “and appreciation of the cultural values of towns and cities”. This was accompanied by investing in large city centre YHA hostels and removing some support from rural properties.

With the YHA’s new direction of focussing on city hostels, rural youth hostels began to be closed down. These were homely establishments that had quietly provided shelter for walkers, cyclists, and tourists over the years. Many small villages, whose local youth hostel had brought income and new faces into the isolated rural communities, saw this local hub of tourism on the brink of closure. And for many rural youth hostels, they had no option but to close down. But for a few lucky hostels, the withdrawal of funding from the YHA was not the end of the story…

bachelors hall behind the trees
Tucked away in a secluded valley in Dartmoor National Park lies Bachelors Hall..

Who runs former youth hostels?

A flux of YHA hostels in amazing locations around the UK got rescued from closure by private individuals or community led groups. These individuals and groups recognised the importance of sustainable travel to these rural areas. This allowed former YHA hostels to be able to open their doors once again as private youth hostels so the world could continue to enjoy them.

Bridges YHA surrounded by grass, trees and bushes
Tucked away in the tranquil Shropshire hills, Bridges YHA is awaiting your arrival

How many former youth hostels are there in the UK?

As former youth hostels are independently run, it is not wonder that these hostels turn to Independent Hostels for support, community, and marketing. There are currently over 50 former youth hostels in our network with more joining every year! Remember to check back to this page regularly as more hostels are always being added.

cote ghyll mill as seen from the carpark!
Cote Ghyll Mill is a newly referbished mill and is the perfect base for exploring the Yorkshire Moors

What defines a former youth hostel?

Former youth hostels can be split into two categories. Some former youth hostels are still affiliated with YHA marketing services. These can be identified by the YHA sign on their building and the YHA symbol on their feature page. Other former youth hostels are totally independent from the YHA, relying on their own resources and the Independent Hostels network.

derwentwater independent hostel is surrounded by greenery and has two cows grazing in the field at the front
Derwentwater Independent Hostel was run by the YHA for 50 years before it was sold in 2011


Backpacker Hostels : hostels ideal for independent travellers.

Backpacker Hostels for independent traverllers

Backpacker hostels cater for independent travellers who want to explore the UK, particularly by public transport.  Oftern but not always aimed at young independent travellers from overseas.  They area a great place to meet people and make new friends with many hostels offering social evenings such as pub crawls and quizzes. Young visitors find that these hostels provide friendly, convenient and safe places to base their explorations of the UK’s greatest cities and tourist attractions.  UK residents also find them fantastic bases for affordable city breaks or to visit and tour iconic areas of the country.

Backpackers hostels  are situated in cities and notable tourist locations around England, Scotland and Wales.  In Scotland where the tradition of travelling from hostel to hostel as part of a tour has existed for longer, there are Backpacker style hostels in the smaller towns of Pitlochry, Fort William and Oban and also in the rural but iconic locations in the Highlands and Islands that have attracted visitors for generations.

Providing good value accommodation in bunk rooms, where you can book a bed, or private group or family rooms, City, Backpackers and Boutique hostels frequently include breakfast in their prices and all have good self-catering facilities to keep the cost of a UK city break to a minimum. In recent years the city hostels, in particular, have invested heavily in upgrading their accommodation so that many of the hostels in this list benefit from modern upgrades and funky decor, making them unique and exciting places to stay.

You might be surprised to know that a hostel is often the best-located accommodation for taking a city break and with self-catering available they are ideal for those on a budget.  Many hostels have prime city-centre locations and private en-suite rooms are available for couples and groups as well as beds in shared rooms.   Hostels are social places and they have social areas like cafes, restaurants and bars where you are expected to hang out and meet your fellow guests.  Free WiFi and a kitchen are pretty standard in most hostels.

Campsites : Hostels with camping

Why choose an Independent Hostels campsite?

  • When your dream hostel is not big enough to accommodate your entire group, adding a few tents to your booking could be the perfect solution.
  • How about if some of your group wants the luxuries of sleeping indoors while others want to the rough and tumble of camping? You can keep everyone happy and do a combination!
  • Hostels with smaller campsites occasionally allow campers to use the hostel facilities. This means you get the fun of camping alongside the convenience of a self-catering kitchen.
  • Hostels are consistently the cheapest form of accommodation out there. The only thing that beats hostelling price wise is camping!
  • Some of our hostels are located on or next to large campsites where you will find a variety of pitches for tents, caravans, and camper-vans.



FSC Centres : Field study centres run by the Field Studies Council

The Field Study Council aims to create a world where everyone feels connected to the environment so they can enjoy the benefits it gives and make choices that help protect it. They do this through the FSC centres which provide accommodation in an environment that encourages children, families and everyone else out into the countryside to explore,  learn, enjoy new experiences and relax.

Shropshire Way : Accommodation in hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns

The Shropshire Way

The Shropshire Way is a 200 mile route which forms a figure of eight around Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire. A relatively new long distance route, it was finalised in 2018 thanks to the work of The Shropshire Way Association. Walking mainly on footpaths, bridleways, quiet lanes and the occasional busier roads you will discover the beautiful and varied landscape of this often overlooked part of the country.

The route has been divided into 2 loops or sections the north and the south.

The South Loop

The South Loop is the hillier of the two.  It starts in Shrewsbury at the Kingsland Bridge spanning the River Severn and will lead you across the Shropshire Hills.  The  route will take you from the rocky crags of Stiperstones to the Clee Hills and on to Wenlock Edge. From there you will go down into Ironbridge Gorge then up over the Wrekin.  Here you must stop to savour the stunning views before you descend into Wellington and back into Shewsbury via Haughmond Hill.  A walk of stunning scenery and contrast, you will pass through many interesting historic towns and villages. You will pass through Bishop’s Castle, Clun, Ludlow, Much Wenlock, Ironbridge, Wellington not to mention Shrewsbury itself.

This southern section has a good smattering of Independent Hostels and Bunkhouses mainly within a km of the route.

The North Loop

In contrast to the hilly South Loop, the North Loop is a much flatter walk and provides yet more variety and interest. You will walk along canals and through nature reserves brimming with birdlife.  The amateur botanists among you will delight in spotting rare plants as you walk.

For more information have a look at The Shropshire Way Association’s website:

While the Shropshire’s Great Outdoors website gives details of another 97 miles of routes that link to the main Shropshire Way.




Trans Euro Trail: Accommodation in hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns

The Trans Euro Trail (TET) winds its way across 72,000 km and 33 countries. Its UK section extends to in excess of 6,000 km.

A community-run volunteer project, the TET introduces independent and adventurous motorcycle backpackers from all over the world to the beauty of Europe’s landscapes and the variety of the UK our isles and history.

Carry a tent for those al fresco nights under the stars but take full advantage of the warm welcome available at independent hostels along the Trail. The TET traveller relishes a bed, a drying room and a shower but most of all the warm welcome they receive.

For more information, check out the website