How the most remote hostel in Wales achieved 10,000 overnights after being rescued from closure by volunteers. 

tyn cornel in the Elenydd Wilderness

Ty’n Cornel hostel has welcomed walkers, cyclists and other visitors since 1967. Since 2007 it has been operated entirely by volunteers through Elenydd Wilderness Hostels, a charitable trust.

The most remote hostel in Wales – Ty’n Cornel hostel in the Cambrian mountains of mid-Wales – has achieved its 10,000th overnight since it was rescued from closure by the Elenydd Wilderness Trust.  The prize for the 10,000th overnight was awarded on 18th May 2019 to three cyclists Bryan Donoghue, Howard Smith and Damian Bevan.

Ty’n Cornel is a 16-bed hostel situated at the head of the beautiful Doethie valley.  The building is a former farmhouse built around the middle of the nineteenth century.   The hostel has welcomed walkers, cyclists, and other visitors since 1967 and since 2007 it has been operated entirely by volunteers through Elenydd Wilderness Hostels, a charitable trust.   Ty’n Cornel and its sister hostel Dolgoch provide a unique opportunity to share the remote beauty of the area with other like-minded hostellers.

Elenydd wilderness

Elenydd Wilderness Hostels has faced many challenges during the 12 years it has operated Ty’n Cornel.  In the early days, the hostel was rented from private owners.  Funds funds were raised to purchase the property in 2013.  Much work was required to restore and upgrade the building, the drainage and the water supply to a serviceable state.  Most recently, the organisation has had to create its own on-line booking system when the existing service provider withdrew.  Throughout, the challenge has been to work with qualified professionals and tradesmen to create an environment that’s sufficiently reliable and simple for the hostel environment – the hostels are looked after by a different volunteer warden each week.

Ty'n cornel Hostel in 2008
Ty’n Cornel Hostel in 2008

Ty’n Cornel’s original charm and simplicity is very much intact, but many improvements have been made behind the scenes.  The thick stone walls, the wooden beams, the quarry tile floors, and the 16 comfortable built-in bunk beds are still there.   Water still comes from a mountain spring, but the reliability and purity of the supply are much improved.  After 50 years with no phone, a satellite phone provides a lifeline to the outside world.  The environmental footprint has also been reduced:  the common room is heated by an efficient wood-burning stove rather than a coal fire, gas has been replaced by electricity, and photovoltaic panels generate half of the electricity consumed.

ty'n cornel hostel in theElenydd Wilderness

Bryan Donoghue, one of the cyclists who booked the 10,000th overnight said, “we had a wonderful time visiting both Dolgoch and Ty’n Cornel. Now it’s back to everyday life in the office.”  Ty’n Cornel hostel managers Richard and Janet Hollins said,  “It’s always gratifying to see visitors enjoying their first stay at our hostels – for many of them it’s a whole new experience to stay in such a beautiful, remote location.  We look forward to welcoming many more visitors to Ty’n Cornel!”