St Oswald’s Way: Hostel and Bunkhouse Accommodation

St Oswald’s Way is a 97 mile long distance walking route. Opened in 2006 it stretches from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in the north down to Heavenfield on Hadrian’s Wall in the south.  The route will take you through some of the finest scenery Northumberland has to offer.  St Oswald’s Way is a walk of variety and history with plenty to keep you interested. From Lindisfarne you follow the coastline as far south as Warkworh passing iconic castles, rugged coastline, spectacular beaches and islands on the way.

St Oswald's Way. Hostel & Bunkhouse Accommodation
Lindisfarne at the start of St Oswald’s Way

The route then takes you inland along Coquet valley to Rothbuy and on to the finish at Heavenfield. On this stretch of the walk you will pass hills and moorland, picturesque villages, forest and rolling farmland.  St Oswald’s Way links three historic sites associated with the early 7th century Northumbrian King and Saint whose name it takes. The Holy Island of Lindisfarne where he founded a monastery that became the ‘cradle of Christianity in England’, Bamburgh which was his royal capital and Heavenfield where he camped before his victory at the battle that made him King.

St Oswald's Way, Hostel and bunkhouse accommodation
Bamburgh, St Oswald’s royal capital

The route is well served with independent hostels and bunkhouses offering great value accommodation.  With walkers in mind, one night stop overs are easily booked and packed lunches can often be provided (with a little notice). You can either self cater in the communal kitchens or your hosts will recommend local cafés or pubs for your meals.

Seahouses Hostel on St Oswald's Way, Northumberland
Seahouses Hostel. Providing overnight accommodation for walkers on St Oswald’s Way.

Far less touristy than the honeypot destinations, Northumberland and St Oswald’s Way have so much to offer.  Stunning scenery, dark skies and a well signed new route which takes you from the iconic coastline through sheltered river valleys up to the atmospheric high moorland. All this without crowds of fellow walkers.

St Oswald's Way. Hostel and bunkhouse accommodation
The stunning deserted landscape crossed by St Oswald’s Way as it heads inland.

Much more vital information is available from St Oswald’s Way official guidebook , St Oswald’s Way official website and the Long Distance Walkers website.




Dog Friendly Accommodation: Dogs in Bunkhouses and Hostels

Dog friendly accommodation in hostels and bunkhouses:

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

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

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

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

dog friendly symbol
Dog Friendly Symbol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corris Hostel Dog Friendly
Corris Hostel in Snowdonia welcomes Dogs

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

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





Christmas 2021 : Accommodation availability in Hostels and Bunkhouses

Where will you and your family go this Christmas?

We all know Christmas is a time for family, but uniting  the whole extended family in the same place can often be a difficult job.  Do you go to them or do they come to you? Where will they all fit?  Do you book a table and have dinner out (which can be very expensive) or do you opt for the traditional Christmas dinner at home? Then there is the age old problem of who is going to drive home. Some of your guests will have to  miss out on the festive tipple if they are on driving duty.

One obvious solution is to find some Christmas accommodation. Increasingly many families are turning to hostels and bunkhouses for great value accommodation at Christmas time. The hostels and bunkhouses on the map above are all open at Christmas and have room for everyone with self catering facilities and large dining and sitting rooms.

If you hire the whole hostel or bunkhouse (which is what we would recommend), you will have all the facilities to yourself.  The hostel or bunkhouse becomes yours for the Christmas period, a proper  home from home, with space for all the generations.  What fun it will be to wake up on Christmas morning all together, sharing the fun and laughter from the very start of the day. Preparations for the big Christmas meal can be shared among everyone with no one person being the host and feeling responsible for the day.

Christmas celebrations at Hardraw Bunkhouse

Why not rent a hostel or bunkhouse big enough for all the family this Christmas?

The festive season is the perfect occasion to spend time with your family and closest friends. Renting a  hostel or bunkhouse is one of the most economical ways to get the accommodation you need to host everyone in a stunning location.   Independent hostels range from large country houses to farm bunkhouses with all manner of barn and house conversions, purpose built eco hostels and many more in between.

You will find them all over the country, from the far north of Scotland and the Scottish Isles to Lands End and the Scilly Isles.  From rugged coastal locations to hostels perched on mountain sides, from vibrant city centre hostels and bunkhouses to accommodation among rolling hills and quaint market towns. Wherever you fancy spending your Christmas you should fine a hostel or bunkhouse nearby. Have a look at the map above to see for  yourself where the independent hostels and bunkhouses open at Christmas are located.

All the hostels and bunkhouses which are open this Christmas  have self catering facilities.  They invariably will have large dining tables, ideal or seating the whole family for the big Christmas dinner, and a kitchen designed for catering for large numbers. (As each hostel is unique, always be sure to check that their facilities are adequate for your group when you book).  The  hostels’ self catering facilities make sharing all the food preparation tasks between family members really easy. Everyone from young to old will have the opportunity to contribute.  Picture yourselves on Christmas Eve, sitting around the big table.  Everyone peeling the vegetables with festive music playing in the background. It may well be worth packing a few extra vegetable peelers. You wouldn’t want to leave anyone without a job!


A large family Christmas around a bunkhouse table
A large family Christmas around a bunkhouse table

Where will we all sleep?

Sleeping accommodation in independent hostels and bunkhouses is generally in bunk beds.  Many hostels also have private rooms with standard beds which are ideal for the older generation.  What’ s more the bunk beds are often in normal sized bedrooms, with a choice of  2, 4 or 6 bunks per room quite usual.  This is ideal for a gatherings of families, when each family can have their own bedroom whist sharing the dining and lounging areas to celebrate together.  Or you can allocate rooms  just for the children.  What fun to have a room full of bunks for all the children in your party.  After all no one needs to go to bed early at Christmas!  As always, you are advised to check the facilities; the number and arrangement of the beds with the individual hostels and bunkhouses before you book.

Bunkrooms. Ideal accommodation for a family Christmas holiday.
Bunkrooms. Ideal accommodation for a family Christmas holiday.

How much will it cost?

The costs of renting a whole bunkhouse or hostel for your Christmas holiday are very low, especially if you rent an ideal sized hostel or bunkhouse for your family group.  Our range of hostels and bunkhouses can offer you everything from basic accommodation if that’s what you want, to luxury bunkhouses where there is no necessity to compromise on comfort.  Log burners are a  common feature.  They provide a lovely, festive focal point in the shared living space.  Often luxury accommodation is provided cheaply simply because there are more people sleeping in each bedroom.

A cosy hostel sitting room for the whole family at Christmas.
A cosy hostel sitting room for the whole family at Christmas.

Don’t delay.  Christmas is coming.

Hostel and bunkhouse accommodation soon gets snapped up over the Christmas period.

Contact any of the accommodation providers shown above direct or why not make a group enquiry using our Group Enquiry system.  Click on the link below.    If you want to explore the possibilities of booking hostel or bunkhouse accommodation for the New Year,  for the festive season next year or are looking for accommodation on other dates, the group enquiry system will make your search for the perfect accommodation so much easier.

Make a Group Enquiry about  accommodation.


christmas accommodation bunkhouses
Christmas accommodation at Pentre Bach Bunkhouse, Near Caernafon, Gynedd, Wales



En suite rooms : Bunkhouses and Hostels with en suite rooms

Many hostels and bunkhouses have private rooms with en suite facilities.

Hostel en suite rooms have all variations of beds.  Some have a double bed or twins, there will be family rooms with a mixture of bed and bunks and others with a number of bunks, ideal for large families or groups.

You can book a private en suite bedroom and have the benefit of a self catering kitchen and other shared areas around the hostel. Enjoy the social atmosphere of the kitchen, lounge and garden and retire to your en suite room for a refreshing night’s sleep.

Sandstone Way: Hostels and Bunkhouses

The Sandstone Way, opened in 2015, is a 120 mile mountain biking route running the length of Northumberland between Hexham in the south and Berwick upon Tweed in the north. The route takes riders across an ever-changing landscape, rich in history, geology and iconic scenery. In the north it runs along a sandstone ridge linking numerous sandstone crags and outcrops, hence the name, The Sandstone Way.

Sandstone Way. Hostel & Bunkhouse Accommodation

Both Hexham and Berwick upon Tweed have railway stations. Between these two towns, the route passes through numerous villages and small communities including Wooler, Rothbury and Bellingham. It has been designed with safe river, main road and railway crossings.

The Sandstone Way was designed by Ted Liddle specifically for mountain bikers and as much of the route as possible is off-road. It will appeal to riders of all abilities and most will take 3 or 4 days to complete it. The ‘fit and the fast’ could possibly ride the route in 2 days but in all probability most would wish they had taken 3 days. The route is clearly way marked with a distinctive green logo roundel.

Sandstone Way, accommodation at Wooler Youth Hostel
Wooler Youth Hostel, also on  the route, where providing accommodation to cyclists is part of the culture.

On and near to the route are many independent hostels and bunkhouses offering great value accommodation. Those on or just off the route are perfect for your overnight stopovers. Whereas those nearer to the coast or to tourist towns such as Alnwick, of Hatty Potter fame, are great if some of the family are riding the route and the others want to visit local attractions or spend a day on the beach.

More information about this exciting route can be found on the Long Distance Walkers website and the Sandstone Way website.  Maps can be purchased from Northern Heritage Services


New Year 2021 / 2022 : Accommodation Availability in Hostels and Bunkhouses

Why not hire a hostel or bunkhouse this New Year?

New Year’s Eve is a time for celebrating with friends and family.  Why restrict yourself to a small New Year’s celebration, when you can hire a whole hostel or bunkhouse and invite everybody? Hostels and bunkhouses offer great value New Year accommodation for groups of all sizes.  What fun it will be to meet all together in your hostel,  in a new and exciting location.  With the hard work and stress of Christmas behind you, now’s the time to relax and unwind.  Traditionally of course, New Year celebrations are alcoholic in nature. But they needn’t be. You could spend the day blowing away the Christmas cobwebs walking on beautiful deserted beaches or in rugged mountain scenery.   Then spend the evening cooking and eating together and relaxing in front of the warmth of a log burner.  You could always stay in a picturesque rural market town and  join in with local quirky New Year’s traditions. Alternatively stay in one of our city hostels and hit the sales or take in the culture.

Great accommodation to celebrate new year at Gauber Bunkbarn
New Year accommodation at Gauber Bunkbarn


There are  hostels in all sorts of wonderful locations and in all shapes and sizes.

You are sure to find the accommodation are looking for.

You can choose to stay in mountains, seaside or village locations. Or take a break in one of our city centre hostels and be right where the action is as the strike of midnight. There are bunkhouses and hostels in stunning rural locations all over the UK.  The ones shown on the map above all provide accommodation with availability this New Year for you to hire exclusively. But please don’t delay. Accommodation at New Year gets booked up quickly. Act now to avoid disappointment.

All the hostels and bunkhouse have self-catering facilities.  The great advantage of self-catering accommodation is that it  allows you to be flexible over meals.  Eat in if you fancy, or go out for a treat.  The self-catering kitchens allow your group to share the cooking. The great variety of New Year accommodation means there will be something perfect for your group or extended family, whatever their size or room requirements. With large dining rooms and big pans in the kitchens, the group accommodation provided by bunkhouses and hostels is perfect for sharing a meal together. There are often large tables, ideal for group dining. Kids love the freedom of a large house or  converted barn to explore. While adults enjoy the opportunity to relax without worry.  Always be sure to check that the hostel has the facilities you need when you book.

New Year accommodation with large dining tables
New Year accommodation with large dining tables

Hire a hostel this New Year and extend your celebrations over a couple days.

Why not make this New Year extra special. Instead of the traditional New Year’s Eve Party,  which is often over all to quickly,  you can hire a hostel  and spend a couple of days having great fun together.  Get out in the fresh air in the daytime and gather together in the evening for a meal together and a few drinks. There are many bunkhouses and hostels within walking distance of a pub or a town centre for the important New Year’s Eve celebration.

Many hostels are located in wonderful surroundings. Ideal for a  winter walk. What’s more many hostels are  dog friendly, so there is no need to leave  your four legged friend behind.  ( Please always be sure to check with the hostel before booking).

New year accommodation at mid wales bunkhouse
New year accommodation at Mid Wales Bunkhouse
With New Year marking the end of the Christmas holidays many people use our New Year accommodation to get away for a few days before starting the daily routine again.

Tips for a great New Year Eve celebration and house party in our New Year accommodation:-

Make sure to book in advance– As our hostels are very sought after at New Year.

Get everyone together  -To discuss what food you are all taking, whose cooking which meals and plans for places to explore.

Plan to enjoy the fresh air  and rural settings–  Pack your winter coats and boots as there are numerous beautiful places to explore around our hostels.

Research where you are going – There are numerous fun activities to take part in around our hostels, so there’s no excuse for staying indoors all the time. If you are unsure of where to look or need ideas  just ask the hostel you are staying at. They will all be very happy to help.

Blow the Christmas cobwebs away- Most of our hostels are situated in  areas of breath taking natural beauty- with astonishing walks. Why not plan to go on a family walk on New Year’s Day?

Don’t try and do everything- If you are responsible for cooking and hosting the New Year’s  house party, then don’t take it all upon yourself. Why not ask other family members or friends to bring different parts of the meal?

Sit back, relax and enjoy New Year.

Warning- You may enjoy it so much you will want to hire a hostel again for next New Year’s celebrations!


Camping Barns and Bothies : Independent Hostels network

Is it a bothy  or a stone tent ?

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

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

A bothy is a Scottish camping barn or Stone Tent and the term Bothy has been taken up by the National Trust in England to describe their most basic accommodation. Traditionally bothies are rural accommodation in Scotland originally used to shelter shepherds or fishermen and adopted by mountaineers in more recent years.

Most barns are priced at around £10 a per person per night.  They offer a memorable way of staying within some stunning scenery and are  a great alternative to camping with a roof over your head if it rains.  The most developed bothies and camping barns have mattresses or bunks, showers and cooking facilities, but many do not.  They are very rural and sometime so remote they have no electricity. Aimed at the walker who might walk from barn to barn, these stone tents are often used by an outdoor groups and because they are small (from 4 beds) and away from traffic they can be fun for families.

Alstonefield Camping Barn
Alstonefield Camping Barn

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

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

YHA Camping Barns in England & Wales

Camping Barns  were originally the idea of the Youth Hostel Association, although they have always been owned and run independently.  They were created to provided shelter for walkers and cyclists and often filled the gaps left by the selling of rural  YHA  hostels.   The YHA has been shedding their supported camping barns for over ten years and in 2017 they stopped supporting all the barns, expect for the two properties they owned themselves.  This was part of a wider closure of rural accommodation which has been taking place over a number of years including  YHA  hostels and bunkhouses .   Taddington Camping barn has closed down but it is great to know that for most camping barns this is not the end of the story and they are continuing  to provide simple accommodation as part of the Independent Hostels network.

Lakeland Camping Barns

Around 10 years ago a group of YHA camping barns in the Lake District joined together to form a local marketing group, Lakeland Camping Barns. Moving away from the services provided by the YHA, Lakeland Barns produced their own marketing and online booking system.  It has been a story of great success.

Lakeland Barns have worked with the Independent Hostels network for many years, sometimes sharing stands at shows and festivals.  Their member  barns are all shown on the map above.

YHA Barns open and welcoming guests

You may have heard that the YHA closed all their camping barns and some simple hostels in spring  2017. However the good news is that many of these privately owned barns and hostels remain open and welcoming guests as independent establishments.

In recent years the Youth Hostel Association have changed their century old charitable aim “To help all, especially young people of limited means, to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside”  by adding the amendment “and appreciation of the cultural values of towns and cities”.   This has been reflected by the sale of many of the Youth Hostel Associations small rural hostels and their investment in large hostels in the cities.

YHA Simple Hostel Dolgoch Hostel
YHA Simple Hostel Dolgoch Hostel

Not to be deterred by the YHA’s latest shedding of their smallest and most rural accommodation, the farmers and charities who own these basic hostels and camping barns have made the decision to continue welcoming guests under the umbrella of the Independent Hostels network.   The Independent Hostels network is now more extensive than the YHA, with 403 hostels and bunkhouses in England, Wales and Scotland.  We will be working hard to let the public know that these camping barns and simple hostels are still open and will be welcoming guests far into the future.  A full list of the camping barns open and in the Independent Hostels network can be seen above.

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

Included in the list of simple accommodation let-go by the YHA in 2017 is the Elenydd Hostels, Tyn Cornel and Dolgoch, both of which are remaining open. These were originally owned by the YHA and rescued form closure by a Trust set up to preserve these much loved simple hostels.   Puttenham Camping Barn is a also remaining open.  It was similarly set up by a local Trust wishing to provide economical access to the glorious Surrey countryside.   The farm barns: Northcombe Camping Barns, Edale Camping Barn, Alstonefield Camping Barn all continuing to remain open and welcoming guests.  Only Taddingon has decided to close after losing support from the YHA .

YHA Camping Barn at Brompton
YHA Camping Barn at Brompton

If you enjoy using simple rural accommodation and would like to see these barns flourish outside of the YHA, please spread the news that they remain open.  Look out for our posts on social media and share them with your friends.  If you post on outdoor sites or have a website of your own, please add the a link to this page to help others find these camping barns.

YHA Camping Barn at Puttenham
YHA Camping Barn at Puttenham

Dales High Way: Hostel and Bunkhouse Accommodation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dales High Way was conceived by husband and wife Tony and Chris Grogan in 2007, as a high-level alternative to the Dales Way which runs from Ilkley to Windermere largely along Wharfedale and other valleys.  They have published the definitive route guide  and run the route’s official website. The route is available on the Long Distance Walkers website and  other useful information can be found on the Walking Englishman’s website. 

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


Snowdonia Slate Trail : Hostel and Bunkhouse Accommodation

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

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

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

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

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

Hostels with private rooms

Accommodation with private rooms

For many private rooms are a necessity when it comes to travelling in hostels. While some of the more hardcore backpacker crowd might disagree it’s becoming more and more accepted that a lot of hostels now offer these rooms. The reasons for having a private room vary however the perks remain the same throughout.Cell B bunks from social media

Why are private rooms so popular?

As the word implies private rooms offer a deal more privacy over the standard dorm room, invaluable for the light sleepers who can’t sleep without total silence. Families also benefit from having a little bit more room.

Private rooms offer peace of mind, with your own key you can come and go as you please without having to worry about locker space.Balholm private room

All the benefits of a hotel with hostel prices

Private rooms offer affordable accommodation similar to a hotel but with all the benefits of a hostel.

Use of the self catering kitchens and social areas makes the whole experience much more personal. Just because you’re in your own room doesn’t mean you have to stay in it!

The friendly atmosphere of hostels is what keeps people coming back year after year, meeting new people and hearing their experiences is still as easy to do as in a dorm. Socialise over breakfast or by the fire in the evening. All the while knowing you can retire to your cosy private room when your ready for bed.

Ballater hostel private room

Treat yourself to a bit of luxury

While bunk beds are tried and tested its always nice to treat yourself every now and then.  With many private rooms offering double beds they’re perfect for getting a good nights sleep. Just what you’ll need after a day out exploring some of the UK’s best spots.

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

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

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

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

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

D of E Accommodation : Bunkhouses and Camping Barns

D of E’s rules have recently changed and they now allow participants doing the Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards to stay in camping barns or bunkhouses. Their website now states as one of ‘The 20 Conditions of Expeditions’ that ‘Accommodation must be by camping or other simple self-catering accommodation (e.g. camping barns or bunkhouses)’.  Independent Hostels have a network of camping barns and bunkhouses all over the UK that fit this new DofE condition perfectly. With prices starting at £11 per person per night they won’t break the bank.

Puttenham Camping Barn on the North Downs Way passed by many DofE walkers every summer
Puttenham Eco Camping Barn on the North Downs Way passed by many D of E walkers every summer

Situated in the typical areas for D of E expeditions, these independent camping barns and bunkhouse are often close to footpaths and quiet roads.  They have traditionally been used mainly  by walkers, cyclists and mountain bikers because of their unique locations.  Generally small and compact, your DofE group could book the either the whole place or a dormitory for their sole use.


Fisher Gill Camping Barn ideal for DofE expeditions in the Lake District
Fisher Gill Camping Barn in Thirlmere at the foot of the Helvellyn range of mountains in the Lake District. Another great place for D of E groups to stay.

Camping barns are generally more basic than bunkhouses.  Some are little more than a stone tent with sleeping platforms and a cooking area. The D of E participants would need to bring their own mats, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, food etc.  In fact pretty much everything except their tent.  Quite a few of the camping barns listed below belong to the National Trust and are on National Trust estates.  If you are wanting your DofE group to have an overnight experience as close to camping as possible,  then a stay in a camping barn (sometimes also called a bothy) would be the best option.  Many don’t have electricity or heating other than a fire or log burner.

Sleeping platforms at Carrshield Camping Barn in Northumberland, ideal for DofE groups
Sleeping platforms at Carrshield Camping Barn in Northumberland.

Bunkhouses come in all shapes and sizes and generally offer a better standard of accommodation than a camping barns.  There will be bunk beds in dormitories, a self catering kitchen with crockery and cooking equipment,  hot water and showers.  The bunkhouses listed below do not provide bedding, so your D of E group will still need to carry a sleeping bag.

Bunks at Hagg Farm in the Peak District ensure a dry night's sleep for DofE participants
Bunks at Hagg Farm Outdoor Centre in the Peak District ensure a dry night’s sleep

There are many more bunkhouses in the Independent Hostel Network that do provide bedding as a standard, these are not listed below but it may well  be worth looking at them too as they may be in just the right location for an overnight stay.   If you search by the location you are looking to stay in on any of Independent Hostel’s website pages all the possible accommodation in that area will come up.

DofE campers enjoying an evening at Pindale Farm in the Peak District
DofE campers enjoying an evening at Pindale Farm in the Peak District

You might also be interested in a group of hostels and bunkhouses that have campsites on the same site.  Good examples of this are Pindale Farm in the heart of  The Peak District or Garrigill Village Hall just off the Pennine Way (and many other footpaths) in Cumbria. These hostels with campsites are very popular with with D of E groups, traditionally the leaders have tended to stay in the hostel while the participants have camped.  With the rule change of course everyone can now stay within four stone walls.

Don’t let the British weather ruin your next D of E expedition.  Book into an independent camping barn or bunkhouse to guarantee a dry night’s sleep.  The participants will be in much better spirits to face the challenges of the next day.