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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Hostels and Bunkhouses are perfect accommodation for large groups.
All the independent hostels and bunkhouses on this page are ideally suited for large groups. Sleeping 50 or more 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.
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.
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.
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. Celebrations. University/school reunions. Large stag or hen weekends. Corporate team building events. Conferences (with a difference). Schools. Clubs. Scouts/guides
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.
Using our Group Enquiry System you can choose a preferred area, group size, dates and facilities and outline your groups requirements. Your enquiry will be sent to all hostels and bunkhouses who could accommodate your large group. They will then contact you directly to discuss your requirements. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Distance along route (S-N) km + distance from route
Get Married in a Welsh Castle – Alternate Wedding Venues
Criag Y Nos Castle in the Brecon Beacons provides grand weddings in a castle, with a day room for the wedding banquet and an evening room for the party afterwards. There is guests accommodation in the castle and the adjoining “old nurses quarters” bunkhouse.
The icing on the cake is the wedding ceremony itself, which takes place in the historic opera house at Craig y Nos. The opera house was built by a world-renowned opera star to entertain her society guests and European Royalty. Let the theatre be your stage, the back-drop for your Wedding Ceremony.
Get married on a farm – Alternative Weddings
Cholderton Farm, home of Cholderton Stonehenge Hostel, is licensed for marriages. Cholderton Charlie’s rare breeds is licenced to hold ceremonies in different parts of the farm so you can celebrate in a Marquee, a Tipi or Yurt.
The Youth Hostel onsite provides value accommodation for wedding guests and the farm has some great areas for celebrations including a Wedding barn. Make your dreams come true at Cholderton Farm.
Barn Weddings in Yorkshire
Howgills Barn is a registered venue for Civil Wedding ceremonies. Seating from 40 (or 120 in a marquee), the Barn provides a picturesque back drop for your special day.
Nestled between the Yorkshire Dales and South Lake District, Howgills Barn is hidden away up a winding lane and is situated in 5 acres of green fields and rolling hills which form the Howgill Fells. If Informal and ‘characterful’ is what you desire, then look no further! The wedding barn is large enough to accommodate 45 guests, and can also be made into a more intimate setting for smaller groups. Marquee hire is also available where the marquee fits directly on to the Barn building if you are looking for a larger wedding to accommodate up to 80 guests. A Registrar from the Carlisle Registry Office can carry out your service either within the Barn hall, or there is glazed gazebo looking on to the Fells, which is also a registered area for saying your vows. The Barn provides guest accommodation in 8 ensuite bedrooms sleeping up to 35 guests and also in apartments 5 minute walk away (sleeping up to 40 guests). Onsite camping is available and Bell tents with futon beds! The Barn is very much a ‘blank canvas’ to mould to your theme and requirements and the only limitation is your imagination! There is no charge for corkage and you are welcome to organise your own catering (or ask if you want this done for you). There are stunning woodlands, streams and fields for photographs, 5 acre field for parking.
Alternative woodland wedding in a Scottish forrest.
Marthrown of Mabie provide alternative weddings near Dumfries in South West Scotland. You can get married in a forest glade, inside a Roundhouse, or with breathtaking views over the Solway Firth. Bring your wellies or summer sandals for a uniquely special day that everybody will remember for years to come. Marthrown of Mabie provides great value accommodation for 26 guests in their bunkhouse and Tipis, a bridal suite in the Yurt and a camp site for those extra adventurous guests! The helpful staff have all the contacts you may need to arrange the celebrations including a Scottish piper, humanist and religious celebrants, local brewery, ceilidh band and catering for all needs and budgets. (Spit Roasts are always a favourite!).
Alternative weddings in a Georgian mansion with a waterfall and 17 acres of grounds
Derwentwater Hostel makes a special setting for a wedding with views over Derwentwater Lake and performing red squirrels almost guaranteed! The hostel can provide catering and that the front lawn is ideal for a marquee or a large Tipi.
Surrounded by dramatic mountains, Derwentwater Independent Youth Hostel is situated in Keswick, in the Lake District. The hostel is a Grade II listed Georgian manor house and stands in 17 acres of grounds, with the high Barrow Cascade waterfall, rich woodland and a large grassy area. The entire hostel is available for hire, at a very affordable price including accommodation for 88 guests and use of all the reception rooms and grounds.
Wellbing weddings in the foothills of Cadair Idris
Corris Hostel offers a special atmosphere that disengages the stresses of the outside world for your after wedding celebrations . The award winning hostel is renowned as a spiritual haven with its caring, easy going atmosphere and friendly staff. Outdoors the terraced landscaped gardens provide a serene, inspirational environment with stunning view of the valley below as a back drop for your photos. There is a large high ceiling hall for your party and great value accommodation for up to 40 guests. The hostel has laser lighting in the main hall and you can transformer this space with your own decorations.
Alternative Weddings in Hebden Bridge
In the same building as Hebden Bridge Hostel is an impressive space ideal for weddings. Hebden Bridge Hostel is housed in the Birchcliffe Centre and adjoins an ex-Baptist chapel that hosts weddings. The Birchcliffe Centre contains the hostel and also The Main Hall, an impressive space and is ideal for weddings. There is a 250+ seat auditorium and a beautiful mezzanine room ideal for celebrations. Each zone can be hired separately or altogether and great value accommodation is available for 33 wedding guests at the hostel.
Celebrate your Wedding at the Workhouse
The Bunkhouse at the Workhouse is part of a larger community project at Y Dolydd Workhouse with reception rooms, building and gardens ideal for celebrating. Exclusive hire of the workhouse is available for weddings and offers you a blank canvas so that you can create a personal, bespoke event to suit your needs and purse strings. A catering service is available if required and the Workhouse has a fully licenced bar that can be open by arrangement. There is plenty of off road parking and gardens.
Hornby Laith Bunkhouse Barn in the Yorkshire Dales occupies a secluded position with sleeping for up to 5O people. There is plenty of parking, a separate barn containing a recreational area and space for a marquee for weddings. Full catering can be organised by arrangement.
Kingshouse Hotel and Bunkhouse in Glencoe make a stunning wedding venue in the winter time. Wedding bookings are available from November through to early March.
Alternative Weddings on Dartmoor, South Devon
Colehayes Park is the perfect venue for those looking for somewhere relaxed to extend their wedding celebrations over a long weekend or whole week. The house is a fully-licensed wedding venue and can also sleep up to 81 guests. It offers a unique opportunity for guests to enjoy the company of friends and family for a longer period of time and is available for DIY weddings, so you have the freedom to create an individual wedding.
The Hebridean Way is a walking or cycle route stretching the whole length of the Outer Hebridean Islands from Vatersay to Lewis. Usually walked or cycled from south to north due to the prevailing winds, the route takes you through a wide variety of always stunning landscapes from crystal clear deserted beaches, to wild mountains, past freshwater lochs and beautiful sea views. The famous changeable weather and the fantastic wildlife will certainly ensure that your trip is a memorable one.
There are excellent ferry routes from the mainland (Oban for Castlebay and Lochboisdale, Ullapool to Stornoway), which combined with the excellent bus services on the mainland means the whole route can be done using public transport, ferries and shank’s pony!
The 156 mile walking route can be travelled over 12 days of between 10 and 17 mile walks. It is possible to stay in a combination of Independent and SYHA hostels along the route although occasionally it is necessary to stay more than one night in a hostel and use the excellent bus services to get you to and from your end and start points. There are always options to take detours or stay longer in certain places to make the most of your trip to these historic and unique islands.
Cyclists travelling the Hebridean Way should follow the well signposted NCN780 cycle route which takes them 185 miles from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis lighthouse (the most northerly point on Lewis and the Hebrides). It is advisable to bring a map as well in order to take detours for attractions and cake! The Hebridean Way Cycle route is usually done over either 4 or 6 days and can be done using a combination of Independent and SYHA hostels.
Crossing 10 islands, using 6 causeways and 2 ferries, both routes are a fantastic challenge for the keen walker or cyclist providing the opportunity to see these stunning islands on the edge of Europe at a gentle pace surrounded by stunning scenery and abundant wildlife.
It is always advisable to book your accommodation if you are planning a trip on the Hebridean Way, especially in the summer.
Visit Hebrides has produced a fantastic website full of useful advice and the LDWA website shows the route, but don’t forget to come back to the Independent Hostel Guide to book your accommodation.
Lots of hostels have ideal locations for organised retreats; quiet, remote and in stunning scenery. A few very special places provide accommodation with an atmosphere where sole travellers can take time out to focus among new people or simply enjoy being alone. Self catering facilities and communal meals at these places provide opportunities to focus on new relationships. Often these hostels will be close to religious sites or pilgrimage routes and some are run on ethical grounds by religious organisations.
At the end of the pilgrim route on Mull, just a short ferry ride away from the Isle of Iona, Achaban House has comfortable soft carpeted rooms and large airy social spaces imbibed with a tranquil atmosphere. It is set in a natural environment surrounded by wildlife. Achaban House is a much loved place by guests looking for peace, simple companionship and an easy daily pilgrimage to the monastic isle.
Iona Hostel is on the island itself, close to Iona Abbey, started by St Columba in the 6th century, and now home to the Iona Community. A contemporary take on pilgrimage is as ‘transformational journeying’ and Iona Hostel has offered warm and homely sanctuary to individual travellers and groups of pilgrims for many years. Iona is described as a ‘thin place’ between the physical and spiritual and travellers come from around the world to experience its unique quality and astonishing beauty. Transformation needn’t be big and momentous but can be gentle and warm, like sitting on the beach below Iona Hostel and watching the sun sink quietly over over the Western Isles.
The Old Red Lion in Norfolk enjoys the special atmosphere of Castle Acre village, once a medieval walled town, which lies within the outer bailey of an 11th century castle. On the Peddars Way ancient trail the Old Red Lion carries on the tradition of serving travellers who seek refreshment and repose. There are quiet areas for reading and meeting and the flint and timber-walled pub cellar and garden room are used for regular yoga classes and organised retreats.
Knoydart Bunkhouse is on a remote peninsula on the west coast of Scotland and is accessible only by boat or a long hike. People who reach this wild location jutting out on the Atlantic coast say “just to be there is good for the soul”. Surrounded by sea and rugged, mountainous terrain and a National Scenic Area of mountains, glens and coast , Knoydart is a haven for wildlife. Bring walking boots and binoculars and you’re set for a retreat to remember !
The Penquoit Centre in rural Pembrokeshire is close to the peaceful Cresswell River Estuary. The unique blend of artistic conversion and ancient buildings in this backwater location makes the Penquoit Centre ideal for group retreats of 10 to 25 people. There is shared dining on large wooden tables and an event room with plenty of space for group activities. The centre is surrounded by wildlife and there is easy access to the large courtyard from all the buildings. From the mid-1980s the Penquoit Centre has been host to many retreats and creative courses.
Hebden Bridge is an old mill town reclaimed by artists, writers and green & New Age practitioners of alternative therapies. Hebden Bridge Hostel reflects its host town and is often used by yoga and zen groups for retreats and workshops.
Monkton Wyld Court in Dorset has a history of well-being education and is run by an eco community who promote self sufficiency in an idyllic setting.
Ninebanks hostel in the North Pennines host retreats organised by Buddhists, artists and well-being coaches. Organisers find the friendly feel of the building, the social atmosphere of the living space, the peaceful rural location and the wonderful view all combine to engender a feeling of fulfillment.
Badralloch Bothy is home to the EarthMind Fellowship, which runs nature-oriented workshops for health and wellness. This social enterprise organises workshops for exploring nature, both inner and outer, incorporating herbal medicine and nutrition, health and wellness, stress-management, HeartMath, Wilderness Therapy and creative approaches such as dance, music, art and writing.
Llanfyllin Workhouse, home to ‘the Bunkhouse at the Workhouse’ is owned and run by the local community. It uses a holistic and sustainable approach to provide valuable learning experiences for all ages including green crafts, gardening, creative arts and performance skills.
Corris hostel is a renowned haven from the stresses of the outside world; with its homely atmosphere, friendly staff, inspirational library and cosy wood fires. The hostel has a holistic focus and an interest in the ‘healing arts’. The garden is terraced up the hillside with a range of ‘nature-scaped’ themes and places of meditation and solitude and beyond the boundary there is deciduous tree forest continuing up the mountain and accessible. This retreat has a great ’spirit of place‘ and connection to nature.
Skiddaw House, one of the UK’s remotest hostels, have hosted laid-back weekends of walking and talking with like-minded adventurers. Called ‘Mind Over Mountains’ these weekends promote the benefits of UK mountains for mental and physical health. By climbing mountains, and sleeping on the side of one at Skiddaw House you can escape from modern life and make time for your mental and physical well-being.
Yealand Hostel and Airton Barn have peaceful locations and a Quaker connection. Yealand is close to three very small villages with little through traffic and good transport links.
Whether you join an organised retreat or visit an awe inspiring place on your own, a retreat gives you the chance to take a break from your everyday.
If you are looking for accommodation on the Wales Coast Path, Hostels and bunkhouses are the perfect choice. There are Independent Hostels along the whole of the Wales Coast Path route from Chepstow all the way round to Llandudno, meaning that the majority of the route can be walked using hostels and bunkhouses as accommodation.
Modern hostels and bunkhouses often provide bed linen so you don’t need to bring a sleeping bag (check each accommodation’s details). With self-catering and catered options (and many hostels and bunkhouses being close to a pub) there are catering options for all budgets. For those cycling parts of the Wales coast path route many hostels provide cycle storage to keep your bike safe whilst you have a great night’s sleep.
After a day’s walking you will find a warm welcome in all of our accommodation on the Wales Coast Path. Details of the route are available on the LDWA website.
The Wales Coast path joins up with Offa’s Dyke to create a circular route right round the edge of Wales, by using Independent hostels along with YHA hostels and B&Bs one can walk the whole length.
Piggery Poke Hostel is one of the ideally situated hostels on the southern section of the coast path. In the county of Ceridigion, just north of Pembrokshire, and just half a mile from the coast on a footpath loop. Piggery Poke was used as abase when Sam Dalley walked the Ceridigion section of the Wales Coast Path using public transport, you can Read More on our blog.
Parc Elernion Caravan Park has a walkers camping barn with direct access to the coast path on the northern section of the Wales Coast Path. Sleeping just 2 people with sitting area, kitchenette and other facilities shared with the campers, the Camping Barn is on the north coast of the Llyn Peninsular close to the village of Trefor with a lovely little sandy beach and harbour.
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.
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!!
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!
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.
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.
The spectacular National Parks in the England, Scotland and Wales boast a wonderful selection of hostels and bunkhouses.
These hostels and bunkhouses offer great value, flexible, self-catering accommodation to the many and varied visitors to the National Parks. Singles, couples, families, groups of friends or families, clubs etc all enjoy the friendly atmosphere and communal ethos that hostels and bunkhouses offer.
If you go to the map above (enlarge it as necessary) you will see all the hostels and bunkhouses in the National Park you want to visit. Click on the red marker and again on the hostel name and you will get all the key information about that hostel or bunkhouse; the number of rooms, the facilities, the price etc. Scroll further down for contact details and the link to the hostel’s own website.
To help your search you can use the ‘Find by’ tool at the top of any hostel’s page. Search by your preferred ‘location’, the hostel’s ‘facilities’, ‘activities’ in the area and/or ‘availability’. Don’t forget, unlike most other types of self catering accommodation, hostels and bunkhouses allow guests to stay for as short a period as one night. Of course you are most welcome to stay for much longer!
What is the difference between a hostel and a bunkhouse?
Each hostel and bunkhouse is unique so it is important to explore our database. Some are very large and can cater for clubs and big family/friend get-togethers. Others are much more cosy with just a few beds. Some have just dormitory style rooms whereas others also have private or family rooms with either bunk or conventional beds. The difference between a hostel and a bunkhouse is very woolly. Often the name is historic and while the accommodation has evolved over the years, the name has not. You may also come across a number of camping barns in some of the National Parks. These are much more basic, (which is reflected in the price) and are often little more than a ‘stone tent’ where you need to bring all your own sleeping and cooking equipment.
The history of National Parks and the history of hostels and bunkhouses.
There are now 15 National Parks in the UK. The newest, the South Downs, was established in 2010. But the first National Park to be designated was the Peak District in 1951.
The history of the National Parks is fascinating. The impetus to form National Parks started some 20 years earlier with The Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932. In the years that followed organisations such as the Rambler’s Association, the Youth Hostels’ Association (YHA), the Council for the Preservation for Rural England (CPRE) and the Council for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) rallied together to lobby the government for measures to protect, and allow access to the countryside, for the benefit of the nation.
But it wasn’t until the 1950’s that 10 National Parks were designated. In addition to the Peak District there were; The Lake District, Snowdonia, Dartmoor, Pembrokeshire Coast, North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, Exmoor, Northumberland and the Brecon Beacons. There was a long wait until the 1989 for the next new National Park, The Broads to be designated. Then in the 21st century Loch Lomand and the Trossachs, Cairngorms, The New Forest and The South Downs were all established.
The history of hostels and hostelling is closely bound with the history of the National Parks and the desire by many in the population to gain access to the countryside. As a result some of the earliest hostels and bunkhouses were set up in the first National Parks. As the number of visitors to the National Parks increased more and more hostels and bunkhouses were set up to cater for them. Now there are over 160 hostels and bunkhouses in our network of independent hostels which are located in the UK’s National Parks.
Hostels and Bunkhouses in the Peak District.
As well as being the first National Park, the Peak District is one of the most popular, with over 10 million visitors each year. Not surprisingly there is a wide selection of hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns offering visitors great value, self-catering accommodation. Go to the map above (enlarge it as necessary) to see exactly where these hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns are located. You will find them conveniently situated for all the Peak District attractions; the 1,600 miles of public rights of way, the 65 miles of off-road dedicated cycling and walking trails including the disused railways; High Peak Trail, Tissington Trail and Monsal Trail. There are bunkhouses and camping barns in Edale, the starting point of Pennine Way, Britain’s oldest long-distance national walking trail and the gateway to Kinderscout, which at 636 metres (2086 ft) is the highest point in the Peak District. As well as walkers, cyclists, and mountain bikers, frequent guests at the Peak District hostels and bunkhouses are climbers, as the Peak District is the training ground for some world class climbers.
For the less active there is a wonderful selection of beautiful country houses and stately homes to visit. Such is their charm that they are often used as film sets. You might recognise: Chatsworth (Pride and Prejudice), Haddon Hall (Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth, Henry VIII, Moll Flanders), North Lees Hall (Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The Other Boleyn Girl). And once again you’ll find a hostel or bunkhouse just a short drive away.
Don’t delay, search our database for the perfect hostel for your next visit to one of the UK’s National Parks.
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.
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.
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!
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 47 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.
While Bouce 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.
Bring your club or group of friends/family to a mountain hostel or bunkhouse.
Many of the 150 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.
The glorious Brecon beacons, home to the Beacons Way and the Brecon Beacons traverse, is one of the wild areas of Wales. Located in the east of the country right up to the border with England, the Brecon Beacons covers the area from Llandeilo in the west to Hay on Way and Llanthony in the east. The area was designated as the Brecon Beacons National Park in 1957 and was the third of the three welsh national parks to be created. The Brecon Beacons National Park is made up of four mountain ranges: the Brecon Beacons, and the three ranges surrounding them: the Black Mountain range and Fforest Fawr to the west, and the Black Mountains to the east. The Black Mountains actually cross the border into Herefordshire and fill the triangular area defined by the towns of Abergavenny in the southeast, Hay-on-Wye in the north and the village of Llangors in the west. TTalgarth and Crickhowell are also Black Mountains towns.
The Brecon Beacons National Park was designated in 1957 and was the third park to be created in Wales. The park was designated as an international Dark Skies Reserve in 2013 making it a wonderful location for star gazing and many accommodation providers are uniquely located to take full advantage of the dark skies .
The park has a network of canals, 9 reservoirs and Wales’ largest natural lake making the area a great place to visit for nature watching and watersports. The wild uplands are fantastic for walking and mountain biking and again for experiencing moorland nature or looking out for the famous Welsh Mountain Ponies that graze across much of the uplands.
The main towns of the park are Abergavenny, Talgarth, Crickhowell, Brecon and Hay on Way, the latter being famous for its literary festival.
Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in southern Britain, has an old monument to a lost child, who tragically died whilst climbing the mountain’s steep green sides, misplaced on his way home from grandma’s house in the valley below. The Black Mountain, Fforest Fawr and Black Mountains provide further wilderness opportunities, with the Welsh valleys travelling up into these areas with their numerous attractions relating to the area’s rich industrial heritage.
There are independent hostels and bunkhouses providing holiday accommodation in the Brecon Beacons across the national park as well as some just outside in the Wye Valley. Take a look at the map and listing to plan your perfect holiday in the Brecon Beacons.
The Cambrian Way is a walking route over the mountains of Wales. It is is 291 miles (485km) in length and was the idea of the late Tony Drake, a long time member of the Ramblers. Tony Drake was active in the setting up of the Cotswold Way, the Offa’s Dyke route and the Youth Hostel Association. In the 1970’s he worked towards the establishment of the long distance path and devised a wild walking route from the South of Wales to the North of Wales taking in the many mountain ranges along the way.
The Cambrian Way starts at Cardiff Castle and includes most of the best mountain scenery in Wales. It passes through the Brecon Beacons, the Carmarthen Fans, the Cambrian Mountains, the Rhinogs, the Moelwyns, the Glyders and the Carneddau. Walking the route you will pass over Cadair Idris, Snowden and Plynlimon.
Hostels and Bunkhouses on the Cambrian Way.
Independent Hostels provide ideal accommodation for walkers, with drying rooms and a warm welcome at the end of the day. There are many independent hostels in the areas crossed by the route of the Cambrian Way and the map above shows all of these which are within 5km of the walk.
Ty’n y Berth Mountain Centre is 3 miles from where the Cambrian Way crosses the A487 on the Talyllyn Pass. If booked in advance (subject to availability) the centre can provide transport to and from The Way or Machynlleth Station. Ty’n y Berth provides ideal accommodation for groups of walkers with drying facilities for wet weather gear and laundry hire. Evening meal, cooked breakfast and packed lunch can be provided if pre-booked and there is a self catering kitchen.
The Cambrian Way passes right by the door of Ty’n Cornel Hostel (photo at top of page), a welcoming warm hostel isolated in the wilderness of the Elenydd uplands in the Cambrian Mountains. This is one of two self catering hostels run by the Elenydd Wilderness Trust. The other hostel is Dolgoch Hostel, which is just over 4km from the Cambrian Way. Guest are welcome to stop off en route to find peace and quiet at these hostels and appreciate the Welsh Cambrian Mountains’ wilderness and wildlife. Bring your binoculars to appreciate the birdlife and the sky at night, both hostels are Dark Sky sites. Look here for full details of Dolgoch and Ty’n Cornel hostels. Booking is advisable, especially in winter.
In addition to the independent hostels listed above, the Cambrian Way also passes close to some Youth Hostels including Llanddeusant Youth Hostel, Pen-y-Pass Youth Hostel, Idwall Cottage Youth Hostel and Bryn Gwynant Youth Hostel and Conway Youth Hostel. Details of these can be found on the YHA website.
The Cambrian Way society produce a useful online guide to the route, with photographs of the countryside and notification of any changes to the way. A printed guide called “The Cambrian Way- The mountain Connoisseur’s Walk” can also be purchased from the Cambrian Way Society here. Details of the route are also available on the LDWA website.
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. You will even find quirky hostels. For example stay in canvas shieling tents on the Isle of Mull or in an old windmill (run by the National Trust) on the Norfolk Coast to name but two of the many unusual hostels and bunkhouses you will find by the sea.
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 the Brancaster Cente, run by National Trust, 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.
Hostels and bunkhouses where breakfast is available.
Although historically hostels and bunkhouses are self catering, these days it is relatively easy to find places that provide you with breakfast. The map above shows the locations of these and a similar map is available showing hostels and bunkhouses where evening meals can be ordered.
Among our network of Independent Hostels there are many hostels that will happily provide you with a full English / Scottish or Welsh breakfast. More often than not the eggs, sausages and bacon will have been produced locally. In fact at New Ing Lodge in Shap the eggs are laid by the chickens you see scratching in the garden. There are some bunkhouses too, especially those on long distance paths and cycle routes, that will also do breakfast. Bunkhouses that are used by large groups, in particular school groups will also often provide a catered option.
The large city centre hostels often provide free hot drinks and a help yourself continental breakfast as part of their overnight fee. The smaller more rural hostels do make a charge and these are very often substantial meals designed for walkers out in the wilds all day. You will definitely need to pre-book your meals as these hostels.
The hardened and well organised self-caterers among you may well scorn at the idea of someone else preparing your breakfast. But there are many circumstances when sitting down to hot sizzling breakfast, prepared by somebody else, is a just what is needed.
For instance when you are travelling long distances to a destination and book in for one night at a hostel to break your journey you really don’t want to be worrying about packing your provisions on that stopover morning. So booking in at a hostel which provides breakfast is the solution. Or you may be walking or cycling between hostels and don’t want to carry your breakfast with you each day, so once again finding a hostel that provides breakfast is the answer. It is worth remembering that while evening meals are often readily available at local pubs it is far harder to find somewhere close to your hostel that will serve you a breakfast.
For those of you who use the hostels as a base for activity holidays; climbing, canoeing, hill walking, mountain biking etc, you may find days when you want an early start. It is much quicker and easier to treat yourselves to a breakfast cooked by the hostel owner or staff than stressing and trying to do it yourself.
If there are a lot of people in your group, perhaps coming from different places for a reunion or party, it might be a lot easier to have your first meal of the holiday cooked for you. Then after tucking into a delicious cooked breakfast you can go out and buy the provisions for the rest of the week from the local shops. So much easier than getting different people to buy different things, or having one person buy it all and have to pack it in the car with the rest of their clothes and equipment.
Some people like to have breakfast prepared for them on the morning of their departure too, especially if they are leaving very early and perhaps want pack the car the night before. There is nothing like a hearty meal to set you up for the journey home…and you won’t be wanting much to eat at lunch time either.
And then just sometimes it is nice to book a cooked breakfast just because you are on holiday and it’s a treat.
So next time you are planning to go away don’t forget that, no matter where you are going in England , Scotland or Wales, it is very easy to find a hostel with breakfast provided.
Hostels and Bunkhouses with Evening Meals Available.
Traditionally hostels and bunkhouses are self catering with the kitchen acting as the social hub where guests chat and share stories as they prepare their meals. These kitchens in the hostels’ communal areas provide the space and opportunity for guests to socialise within the accommodation, indeed it is this that gives the hostels their charm.
However it is a treat to have a piping hot home cooked meal put in front of you and many hostels and some bunkhouses now offer this extra service, providing evening meals and breakfasts for their guests. The map above shows all the hostels and bunkhouse s that provide evening meals. Look here for a similar map of hostels and bunkhouses providing breakfasts.
Not all hostels are located close to pubs or restaurants so the fact they offer an evening meal is a real perk. It saves you walking or cycling to the nearest town or village or having to take the car. If you drive, of course the driver can’t enjoy a glass of the local beer.
On those occasions when you are on a long journey and are stopping overnight at a hostel before continuing to your destination the next day there is nothing more welcoming than arriving at the hostel, stretching you legs, relaxing and having a delicious home cooked meal provided for you.
It is vital, of course, that you book your evening meal with the hostel owner or manager in advance. You may well be surprised what good value and how tasty the evening meals provided by the hostels are. Of course it isn’t just on those stop over nights that having your evening meal cooked for you is a real bonus. Imagine you have been out all day. Perhaps you have been hill walking, mountain biking, surfing or wildlife watching . Whatever your activity, after a long strenuous day in the outdoors, there isn’t anything nicer than being able to arrive back at your cosy, warm hostel with nothing more to do than shower, relax and wait for the call that your evening meal is ready to be served. What a luxury!!
Another time when a catered evening meal is a godsend is on your first evening. Imagine, you have arrived at the hostel rather late, you and your party are tired and irritable after a long journey. What could be better than having a hot tasty meal prepared for you by the hostel team?
A catered evening meal is even more important if there is a large group of you. A family reunion, a group activity holiday or a big celebration, whatever the occasion, self catering for a large number of people can be a nightmare. There is the hassle of buying the right quantities of the right ingredients, lugging it back to the hostel, unpacking and storing it all. Then someone has to take charge of the cooking process. And of course after preparing and serving the evening meal, the washing up has to be done!! Wouldn’t it be better to add evening meals to your booking?
Of course you don’t have to have an evening meal cooked for you every night. A great attraction of hostels in general is the flexibility they offer their guests and this is true as far as meals are concerned as well. You are free to mix cooking your own evening meals, with going to find local pubs or restaurants and with booking to eat evening meals prepared by the hostel.
So next time you’re planning your holiday do remember that there are many hostels in our network of Independent Hostels that offer evening meals. There may well be one just where you are wanting to stay.
Are you planning your own or your best mate’s stag weekend or hen party? Are you looking for accommodation with some outdoor activities on-site or perhaps you fancy a hen weekend or stag party with your own planned walks, cycle rides or a spot of climbing? Alternatively you might be looking for a space to have a stag or hen party away from people who will be upset by the noise. We have a number of hostels and bunkhouses that welcome stag weekends and hen weekends and can offer many of the above opportunities.
A favourite venue for a stag party is ABERNETHY BUNKHOUSE in the Cairngorms, the perfect group accommodation for a stag weekend or a hen party. This is an ‘Exclusive Use’ hostel, so your stag party or hen group will be the only people staying at the hostel, which means you can relax and have fun without worrying about disturbing other guests. The bunkhouse has been robustly designed so your stag group or hen party can “let their hair down” without fear of a hefty bill for damages at the end. Set in the heart of the Highlands there are a wide variety of exciting things to do, all run by very professional organisations. Return ‘home’ to the bunkhouse for a pint of the locally brewed ale at half the price of the local hostelries. Included are warm showers, decent cooking facilities, and an efficient drying room. There’ s a great local minibus driver who is very patient; an Indian takeaway that sends a banquet in a taxi; an ‘eat as much as you can’ Italian; many incredible activity providers; and a local brewery who will deliver small kegs at a fantastic rate! What more do you need for the perfect stag party or hen weekend?
Thinking of a city Stag Do ? Book one of Glasgow Euro Hostels‘ amazing VIP Suites. They have their own lounge with shared outside terrace and are soundproofed, so you can party all night long. There’s also a late check out option (1.30pm) so you can sleep-in the next day. Each suite has a smart tv, fridge and separate bedrooms within the apartment. There is even a smoking area exclusive for VIP Suite guests.
MARTHROWN OF MABIE BUNKHOUSE (which also does weddings) in Dumfries is another one of the hostels/bunkhouses that welcomes stag weekends and hen parties. You can hold a festival style stag weekend or hen party away from anyone who might be disturbed, with accommodation in a mixture of yurts and tipis as well as the bunkhouse. Another quirky location that warmly welcomes your stag party or hen weekend as well as doing weddings is the amazing CRAIG Y NOS CASTLE where you can stay in the converted nurses block and explore the historic and possibly haunted castle as part of your stag party or hen weekend away.
ROCK AND RAPID BUNKHOUSE near Exmoor is a AALA registered centre that welcomes your hen party or stag weekend and offers activities such as climbing, coasteering, canoeing and surfing alongside the bunkhouse accommodation. L & A OUTDOOR CENTRE in the Swansea Bay area can arrange a programme of outdoor activities, a great choice if you fancy a high octane stag or hen weekend away with the boys or girls to celebrate an upcoming wedding! CROFT FARM WATERPARK has a function room for your stag or hen party as well as loads of watersports opportunities on-site.
The owners of SHAGGY SHEEP in the Teifi valley, are expert at organising outdoor activities to entertain a stag group or hen group. Their weekend packages include activities and 2 nights Bed & Breakfast. Here is just a taste of the sort of activities available: coastering, canoing, laser combat, paintball, mud assalt course, high ropes, archery abseiling, fly fishing, clay pigeon shooting, raft design, quad biking and many more.
STOKES BARN BUNKHOUSES in Shropshire and DRAGONS BACK in the Brecon Beacons are also hostels that welcome stag and hen parties and will provide perfect accommodation for your stag or hen group’s requirements.
GILFACH WEN BARN in West Wales finds itself popular with stag groups and hen parties who are looking for accommodation with no immediate neighbours as they want to have a party that runs into the night without risk of anyone complaining.
Hostels with private rooms and bunkhouses with private rooms come in all shapes and sizes in all the corners of Wales. From the City centres of Cardiff and Bangor to the bustling market towns of Aberystwyth, Llandudno and Caernarfon; from the border towns of Llangollen and Chepstow to Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey and to the hidden gems of hostels in Mid Wales, the Snowdonia National Park or the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Why go to a hostel or a bunkhouse for a private room you may ask? Well there are many advantages. Firstly you will have access to the hostel’s self-catering kitchen and dining facilities. All hostels and bunkhouses are self-catering. Self-catering accommodation offers you that wonderful flexibility as to what you eat and when. Perfect for families with small (and fussy) mouths to feed, for those with food allergies or for those who simply prefer to cook for themselves. What fun it is to buy local seasonal food at a farm shop or farmers market or buy fish from the boats in the harbour and cook it up together when you get back to your hostel in the evening. And of course self-catering is so much cheaper than eating out. At breakfast time you can eat your favorite cereal and not feel the pressure or temptation to indulge in a ‘full welsh breakfast’! How many of us can stomach a week of big cooked breakfasts?
An additional benefit of hostels or bunkhouses with private rooms is that although your room is private, the communal areas are great places for meeting and chatting with your fellow guests. In the comfort of the sitting or dining room you can share stories, swap ideas for the next day’s adventures and enjoy a glass or two of wine without the worry of driving home. All this while your children are safely tucked up in bed, playing games or watching TV.
Hostels and bunkhouses with private rooms are dotted all over Wales and have proved invaluable to cyclists using The Celtic Trail Cycle Route and The Lon Teifi Cycle Route and mountain bikers enjoying the Trans Cambrian Trail. While the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, Offa’s Dyke Path, The All Wales Coast Path, Glyndwrs Way and The Beacon Way all have hostels or bunkhouses with private rooms near to their route which are regularly used by walkers.
Of course hostels and bunkhouses with private rooms welcome guests for more than one night, in fact many families base themselves at a hostel with a private room for a few days. Once again a hostel or bunkhouse with a private room offers visitors so much more flexibility than a holiday cottage in that you can book for any number of days. Your holiday can be tailored exactly to suit your and your family’s varied interests. For instance you could spend a couple of nights in Cardiff in a hostel with private rooms for the taste of the big city, a bit of night life maybe , a trip to the theatre, a tour of the city on an open-topped bus, a museum visit, perhaps a day at Cardiff Bay, Europe’s largest waterfront development. Then move on to another hostel or bunkhouse with private rooms for the next couple of days, perhaps travel to the Brecon Beacons National Park. A little over an hours’ drive will bring you to the stunning mountain scenery of the Brecon Beacons. Such a contrast to the vibrancy of Cardiff city centre. You could spend a day and walk up Pen-Y –Fan, the highest mountain in South Wales, or if you are not feeling so energetic you might prefer to walk along the Monmouth and Brecon canal, or go to the magnificent waterfalls at Sgwd Eira and walk behind a wall of water!
Finally for the last leg of your holiday you could move on to another hostel or bunkhouse with private rooms on the coast. In just a couple of hours drive you could be on the Pembrokeshire coast, where rugged coastline, sandy beaches and quaint fishing ports await you.
This of course is just a suggestion, you may prefer to explore North Wales and Snowdonia, or take a step back in time and spend your holiday hunting out the hidden corners of mid-Wales. Whatever your interests you will find that hostels and bunkhouses with private rooms offer wonderful flexibility and great value for money to individuals, couples, families and groups.