The Tarka Trail is a 180 mile figure of eight route in North Devon. The central crossing point is at the historic river-port town of Barnstaple. Based on the route travelled by Tarka the Otter in the novel by Henry Williamson, it takes you across unspoiled countryside, dramatic sea cliffs and beautiful beaches.
The first section of the Tarka Trail, the disused railway line between Barnstaple and Bideford was established in 1987. Later sections of the Two Moors Way and the South West Coast path were added and the complete figure of eight was officially opened in 1992 by Prince Charles.
Suitable for walkers, cyclists, families and buggies, the southern loop incorporates a magnificent 30 mile long off-road cycle path. The longest, continuous off-road cycle path in the UK.
With a selection of independent hostels and bunkhouses along the trail, you will have a choice of great value accommodation. As well as being flexible, many offering single night stays, independent hostels are geared up for outdoor people. So muddy boots, wet coats and bikes are all catered for.
Much more detailed information on the Tarka Trail can be found on it’s official website. There is also very informative guide book on the off road cycle path on the southern route. More details can be found here.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path (also know as the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path) is quite a challenging route. It takes on average 10-15 days to walk from end to end. The ascents and descents amount to 35,000ft, which is roughly equivalent to climbing Everest. So a certain amount of pre-walk training is recommended. The route is very well way marked, but as always it is a good idea to take a guide book and map. As well as offering a the wonderful variety of breathtaking scenery, the area is rich in bird life and coastal flowers. If you are lucky you may also spot seals and wild ponies.
Opened in 1970, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path was the first national trail in Wales. An exhilarating and inspirational walk it passes an incredible 58 beaches and 14 harbours! The entire length of the route is covered by the Pembrokeshire coastal bus service. As a fair proportion of the route crosses areas that are scarcely populated, this regular bus service and is very popular with walkers ferrying them to and from their overnight lodgings.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is part of the 870 mile Wales Coast Path, a natural extension for those intrepid souls among you!
For more information you might find the following websites of interest:
The Wye Valley Walk is a 136 mile route that takes you from the Welsh border town of Chepstow to Hafren Forest in Mid Wales (the nearest town is Llanidloes). It’s a walk of great interest and contrasts which combines superb river and hill walking. You will weave through the magnificent scenery of the Wye Valley AONB before crossing the rolling countryside of Herefordshire and heading up into the hills of Mid Wales into Hafren Forest. There are marker posts for the start/finish at Chepstow Castle and Rhyd-y-benwch car park in Hafren Forest.
For most of the route you follow the banks of the river Wye, but at intervals some hill climbing is necessary. However, these ascents are rewarded with some spectacular views. As such it is not an extreme route and should be suitable for any reasonably fit walker. This is not at all a boring route, you will pass through densely wooded gorges; riverside meadows; broadleaved woodland; cider orchards, parkland and farmland; hills, mountains and open moorland.
Along the route there are a number of independent hostels, offering a warm welcome, hot showers and a comfortable bed to weary walkers. Some may help with luggage transfer, others may serve breakfast and evening meals and send you off with a packed lunch. Many will have pubs near by serving food or local shops selling provisions. All will have self-catering facilities for you to prepare your own food or to sit down and devour a take away. Do read their details and /or talk to them to see what they offer.
As you plan your accommodation remember to leave a little extra time for the many stunning views and highlights along the route. The walk takes you past the historic border towns of Monmouth, Hereford and Hay-on-Wye, as well as the architectural highlights of Chepstow Castle, Tintern Abbey, Goodrich Castle, Hereford Cathedral (home to the Mappa Mundi) and Gilfach Medieval longhouse.
At Hafren Forest the Wye Valley Walk meets to Severn Way, so you can easily extend your walking holiday if time and energy permit.
For more in formation on the walk try these links:
Self-contained accommodation in Wales can be let to a single household from England or Wales. From May 3rd self-contained accommodation can be let to an extended household, which is defined from this dates in Wales as two households.
The Welsh Government says: “after May 17th consideration will be given to enabling remaining visitor accommodation to re-open in advance of the spring bank holiday on May 31”.
Here’s the English Road Map for reopening from the Spring Statement (last updated on 24th February). Key dates for hostel accommodation are given above each step.
12th April – small hostels will be able to reopen as self contained units for the sole use of one household.
17th May – Hostels letting by the room.
Six people from six households can share a bedroom if they know each other. Alternatively this group can be any number of people from two households who know each other. Beds have to be 2 metre’s apart and the groups of 6 (or two households) must be social distanced from other groups within all areas of the accommodation.
This is very different to Scotland where bedrooms will be restricted to the use of one household until further notice. Wales have not issued any instructions for shared bedrooms.
In shared areas each group should have their own table for meals and staff should be in place to clean between groups and provide regular cleaning of touch points. Shared self catering kitchens are not allowed to open.
Showers can be en-suite or with a dedicated shower assigned to each group. Toilets can be shared between groups as long as they are cleaned regularly.
17th May – Hostels operating as self contained units can be used by six people from six households or any number of people from two households.
21st June No legal limits on social contact! Group accommodation and shared self catering kitchens may be able to open with social distancing (or perhaps immunity/vaccination passporting) in place. We are seeking further clarification.
The Scottish Government have published a road map for re-opening shown as a graphic below this text (last updated 14th April).
From 26th April travel from the rest of the UK into Scotland is allowed and tourist accommodation can re-open.
From 26th April (Level 3) – self contained accommodation can be let to one household.
From 17th May (Level 2) – self contained accommodation can be let to 4 adults (and their children) from 2 households.
From early June (Level 1) – self contained accommodation can be let to 6 adults (and their children) from 3 households.
From late June (Level 0) – self contained accommodation can be let to 8 adults (and their children) from 4 households.
For hostels letting by the room, multiple households can stay in the accommodation from 26th April. Initially bedrooms and showers are restricted to use by one household. The roadmaps rules for socialising in a public place will apply to tables and shared areas in staffed hostels. So from 26th April 6 adults from 2 households can gather indoors at a staffed hostel (but not self contained accommodation). From 17th May this increases to 6 adults from 3 households, from early June 8 adults from 3 households and from late June 10 from 4 households. Self catering kitchens can open with time slots, but many will remain closed.
Capacity in all settings is subject to relevant physical distancing requirements. Further clarification is in development and should be available before 26th April.
Of course all the hostels and bunkhouses in the Independent Hostel Guide are lovely places to stay but some do go the extra mile to add a bit of luxury to your group holiday. These luxury bunkhouses and luxury camping barns offer great value accommodation with added comfort.
Luxury Bunkhouses still have shared bedrooms, mostly with bunkbeds but they all have high quality mattresses, and will provide bed linen and in some cases even towels.
Many of our luxury bunkhouses and luxury camping barns have been purpose built meaning the architect and owners have been able to design in everything a group needs.
Many Luxury camping barns have en suite facilities but even where washing facilities are shared these are usually modern bathrooms with good quality hot showers and a few extras to make your stay that little bit special.
It is the communal areas where most luxury bunkhouses and luxury camping barns put in the extra comfort. They have well decorated, modern and well equipped kitchens, large dining areas and sumptuous soft furnishings in the sitting room.
Allendale bunkhouse has a lovely cosy sitting/dining area ideal to lounge around and read a book in!
Most luxury bunkhouses and luxury camping barns have entertainment such as TV systems and wifi and some even have well stocked games rooms.
Some of these luxury bunk barns have hot tubs! Imagine bubbling away with a nice glass of wine looking at the view over the fells from Howgills Barn outdoor hot-tub after a fantastic day’s walking in the Yorkshire Dales or soothing the stress away in The Sail Loft Bunkhouse’s wood powered hot tub on the Moray coast?!
So even if you are looking for group accommodation with an extra touch of luxury we have something for you in the Independent Hostel Guide!
The Cape Wrath Trail runs through the Scottish Highlands and along the west coast of Scotland. It is approximately 200 miles in length and is considered to be one of the most challenging long distance walks in the UK. It starts in Fort William and finishes at Cape Wrath, the most north- western point of mainland Britain.
The route is unmarked and there is no official line. It is a superb route for very experienced long-distance backpackers. The Cape Wrath trail leads you across most of the north west coast of Scotland via Morar, Knoydart, Torridon and Assynt, winding through its most beautiful glens and mountains. It typically takes between two and three weeks to walk.
There is a selection of hostel/bunkhouse accommodation along the route. Careful planning is needed to combine these with, Bothies, B&B’s and maybe even wild camping .
The Snowdonia Way is a long distant route that takes you the entire length of Snowdonia (Eryri). It stretches from Machynlleth in the South to Conwy in the North. There are two alternative routes. Snowdonia Way’s main route is 97 mile long and is mainly low level. It will take you along valley tracks, hillside paths and through forested slopes. There are some steep ascents and descents but the route avoids the peaks. This means it can be walked by those who want a journey through the landscape, with stunning views of the mountains from the valleys. This is the only low level long distance route through Snowdonia and it allows you to see Snowdonia is all its magnificence.
If you want to climb some mountains on the way, a high level route has been devised. This route intersects with the standard Snowdonia Way route regularly. So you can switch between routes when you feel like it or when the weather dictates. If you opt to walk the whole high-level route from beginning to end, it is a 122 mile journey. You will climb some of the area’s most famous peaks including Snowdon, Cadair Idris, Cnicht and the Glyders. But you will also go up some lesser known peaks, which you may have all to yourself.
All along the route, including the mountain alternatives, there are independent hostels and bunkhouses offering friendly, low cost accommodation to walkers. More information about the route can be found at Snowdonia Way’s own website
St Cuthbert’s Way is a 60m route that crosses the border between Scotland and England. It starts in the Scottish border town Melrose and finishes on Holy Island off the Northumberland coast. The Way was inspired by the life of St Cuthbert, who began his ministry at Melrose in 650 AD, eventually becoming the Bishop of Lindisfarne. His final resting place and the original pilgrimage shrine is on Holy Island.
St Cuthbert’s Way is not over challenging and takes between 4 and 6 days. With an ever changing variety of scenery and spectacular views, you won’t be bored. You will pass Roman hill forts, signal stations and roads, walk along the banks of the beautiful River Tweed and enjoy the fantastic scenery from the Eildon Hills. The Way culminates with a memorable walk along the causeway to Holy Island, which is only passable at low tide. For a truly unique finale many walkers remove their boots and walk barefoot through the shallows in the footsteps of St Cuthbert along the Pilgrims Way. Be sure to check tide times when you plan your walk.
The route provides a useful link over the Cheviot Hills between the Southern Upland Way (at Melrose) and the Pennine Way National Trail (at Kirk Yetholm), with St Oswald’s Way and the Northumberland Coast Path.
You will find independent hostels and bunkhouses along the route. In the spirit of a true pilgrimage these offer companionship and comfort to weary walkers at a very reasonable prices.
For more information on the route go to the St Cuthbert’s Way official website. As it starts in Scotland the route is also featured on Scotland’s Great Trails website.
Don’t forget to check the tide times for your arrival at Holy Islands.
Small Hostels are perfect for those wanting to travel as a small group or family wanting somewhere affordable to stay. Whilst some of them are group only most offer accommodation to individuals prepared to share facilities with others. All of the small hostels sleep less than 10 with most sleeping 8, 6 or even as few as 4 people in total. There are small hostels in the Independent Hostel Guide across the country from Exmoor to the Shetlands and in England, Scotland and Wales.
Our small hostels may not sleep many but they are far from small when it comes to space both inside an out – with many having outside BBQ or firepit areas. As often quirky, always stunning, locations to stay where not so many people have trod the path before you they are second to none.
Small hostels are great for having the full hostel experience on a smaller scale!
The Pennine Bridleway is a 205 mile (330 Km) long National Trail running through the Pennines. It stretches from Derbyshire to Cumbria. This relatively new route was officially opened in 2012 by Martin Clunes. Specifically designed for mountain bikers and horse riders. It is of course also perfect for walkers.
The Pennine Bridleway follows a variety of surfaces including minor roads, aggregate tracks, grassed stone tracks, stone setts and worn flags. While some of these have been newly created specifically for the Pennine Bridleway others are drovers’ roads or packhorse trails that have been in use for centuries.
The route takes you through a wonderful variety of landscapes from open moorland to steep-sided wooded river valleys. It passes thorough both the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. You will pass a number of reservoirs which bring another dimension to the route. These were originally constructed to service the canals and the needs of the developing industrial cities of the north. More interest is provided by the evidence of the industrial heritage of the South Pennines. You will see derelict mills, dismantled railways, soot blackened gritstone walls and tall ivy-covered chimneys. It’s a route of contrast. It’s an adventure and a challenge and brings a great sense of achievement to those that complete it. For more details see the Pennine Bridleway’s own website.
All along the route there are a selection of independent hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns offering low cost overnight accommodation. Many have secure bike storage and drying rooms provide or hire out bed linen. Some provide breakfast and evening meals, others will point you in the direction of local shops and pubs. Read each hostel’s feature to be sure they are suitable for you.
Photos kindly supplied by the Pennine National Trails Partnership and Earby Hostel
In the UK there are over 150 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.
All the bunkhouses and hostels featured in the map above are within walking distance of the coast. Perfect for quiet early morning walks along the beach before breakfast or for a leisurely stroll in the evening to see the sun set over the sea. What’s more for those with young children you can’t beat having a beach on the doorstep, without the hassle of loading everybody and everything into the car! Coastal bunkhouses and hostels also often have easy access to the coastal paths and provide great bases or stop-overs if you are doing a walking holiday.
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 above? Take your cursor around the coast of Britain and see for yourself all the wonderful places you can stay.
Remember 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 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.
The South Wales and Pembrokeshire coast features over 20 seaside hostels and bunkhouses. For example the Gower Peninsula, home to Rhossili Bay, is within walking distance of three bunkhouses by the sea while the Pembrokeshire / Ceredigion Coast boasts eight hostels/bunkhouses by the sea.
You are never far from the sea in Cornwall and Devon and there are 14 coastal hostels in the west country. You can stay in the centre of the captivating town of St Ives, with its choice of beaches and many original and artisan shops. Or visit the Eden Project, dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World by some, and stay at Edens Yard just down the road in St. Austell. Famous for its surfing, the north Coast has some great hostels in traditional seaside holiday towns like Bude, Ilfracombe and Minehead.
There are several bunkhouses by the sea to choose from in Norfolk and Suffolk. Deepdale Farm has a range of hostel, bunkhouse and glamping accommodation and is great for groups holidaying by the sea.
There are independent Hostels and Bunkhouses on the Northumberland Coast, where you can combine bucket and spade days on the beach with visits to the many castles. For the Harry Potter fans among us Alnwick Castle is top of the list of places to visit when staying on this dramatic coastline.
If you fancy really getting away from it all, you can take a weekend or week long escape to a seaside bunkhouse or hostel on one of the enchanting Scottish Islands. There are a surprising number of hostels and bunkhouses on remote and accessible islands from Mull and Arran, the Hebrides to the Orkneys and Shetlands.
The Isle of Colonsay where you can stay at Colonsay Backpackers Lodge by the sea
Click on the location pins on the map above to find out more about the accommodation and get in touch directly with them. To find out availability at several hostels and bunkhouses you can contact them using our Enquiry Service.
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.
The Peak Pilgrimage was set up 2015 to mark the 350th anniversary of the plague that afflicted the villagers of Eyam. The brainchild of a team from Eyam church, the route takes you through some of the best parts of the Peak District. As you meander from church to church and pub to cafe you can reflect on the glory of nature and creation while collecting stamps and sticky Bible verse from the churches you pass.
You are strongly advised to buy the route’s guidebook which can be purchased from the Peak Pilgrimage website.
The route is 34 miles long and is designed to be walked by everyone. In fact, walkers from 8 to 80 have enjoyed the walk. It takes between 2 and 7 days to complete. There is a great choice of independent hostels to stay in on your pilgrimage. Nowhere is the walking more inspiring and restorative than in this section of the Peak District National Park.
The Peak Pilgrimage route is almost entirely on footpaths through beautiful but easy walking countryside, popping into occasional villages, visiting churches and passing lots of enticing pubs and cafes.
There are some waymarks along the Peak Pilgrimage route to guide you. These require permissions from landowners so it will take some time to do the whole route and there may be permanent gaps. Please look out for waymarks to help you but don’t rely on them! Read the Guidebook and look at maps in it as your primary navigation aid.
The opening of the Peak Pilgrimage in 2015 arose national interest. It featured on BBC’s Countryfile on 12 July 2015, Then on 24th March 2016 Clare Balding walked the last 7 miles from Curbar Gap to Eyam as part of her Radio 4 program, Ramblings.
You can take the route in either direction. Both Eyam and Ilam are worthy of a day’s visit and both have a choice of independent hostels near by to stay in.
Eyam is famous for the sacrifice of it’s people in 1665. Led by their rector they refused to flea in the face of the plague which was brought to the village from London in some cloth delivered to the village tailor. You can learn about all about the plague at Eyam Museum and visit Eyam Hall with its courtyard cafe.
Ilam is another idyllic tiny Peak District village, stepped in history and surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Derbyshire Dales. There’s the National Trust owned Ilam Hall and the picturesque Swiss style cottages. Ilam is an easy level walk to Dovedale the most famous of all the Derbyshire Dales and the iconic Stepping Stones over the River Dove.