Dales High Way: Hostel and Bunkhouse Accommodation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Snowdonia Slate Trail : Hostel and Bunkhouse Accommodation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay near a Castle : Accommodation in Hostels and Bunkhouses

Who doesn’t love a castle? Their antiquity seems to have a power over us and draws us to them.  The UK is covered with castles in all shapes and sizes and there are a surprising number of independent hostels and bunkhouses within walking distance of a castle. Some, like Totters in Caernarfon are literally next door nestling in the shadows of the historic castle walls, others like  Castle Rock Hostel in Edinburgh are a mere street away and the majestic view of the castle greets you from the windows and as you leave the front door. While Craig Y Nos Castle in the Brecon Beacons National Park has a hostel in its grounds and hostel guests are welcome into the castle for hearty meals, cosy evenings by the wood burning stoves and a free history tour.

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

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

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

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

Here are just a few ideas:

Totters hostel next door to Caernarfon Castle, wales

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

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

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

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

Inveraray Castle close to Inverary Hostel

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

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

Bamburgh Castle close to Seahouses Hostel on the Northumberland Coast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Settle to Carlisle : Bunkhouses and Hostels

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

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


The Settle-Carlisle Walking & Music Festival

30th April to 6th May 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Land’s End to John O’ Groats Walk

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

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

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

Scotland- Kirk Yetholm to John O’ Groats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A LEJOG East Coast Alternative Route

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

The Scottish National Trail: Hostel and Bunkhouse accommodation

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

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

Accommodation for School Groups: Hostels and Bunkhouses

Accommodation for School Groups

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

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

children enjoying thier accommodation for school residentials

Accommodation for Schools in British Cities

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

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

LOTC accreditation

Some of the accommodation has LOTC accreditation and are experts for providing  “Learning Outside the Classroom”.   An example of these are Ardenbeg Bunkhouse, near Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands,  Hagg Farm Outdoor Education Centre,  John Hunt Base,  Mount Cook Adventure Centre, Thornbridge Outdoors, all in or very near to The Peak District National Park. Brancaster Activity Centre, on the coast in Norfolk. Humphrey Head Group Hostel overlooking Morcambe Bay on the southern edge of the Lake District.

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

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

Accommodation for Schools in the National Parks.

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


Horse B&B and Riding Holidays: Self catering accommodation

Hostels  for horse riding holidays

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

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


Take your horse on holiday: Horse B & B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Limestone Way : Hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luxury Bunkhouses and Luxury Camping Barns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The IHUK Network

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

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

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

IHUK sign on Lodge Dinorwig


The History of Hostels and IHUK

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

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

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

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

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

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

IHUK sign on Greenman Backpackers
Greenman Backpackers in Chepstow

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

Many IHUK hostels are run by independent travellers for fellow travellers

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

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

Everyone is made to feel welcome at IHUK Hostels

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

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

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

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

IHUK Hostels are found all over  the UK

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

ihuk sign on Tomlinsons Bunkhouse
Tomlinsons Bunkhouse in Rothbury Northern England

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

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

Accommodation for large groups : Bunkhouses and Hostels

Hostels and Bunkhouses are perfect accommodation for large groups.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alternatively you can organise everything yourself.

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

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

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

Large family gatherings.

Big groups of friends


University/school reunions.

Large stag or hen weekends.

Corporate team building events.

Conferences (with a difference).




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

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

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


To find out more use our Group Enquiry Service.

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

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

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

Cumbria Way: Hostels and Bunkhouses

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

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

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

Day 1

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

Day 2

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

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

Day 3

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

Day 4

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

Day 5

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

Day 6

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

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

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