YHA, no better ‘UKation’ for the outdoor adventurer
If you never stayed in a hostel in your youth, you might be as surprised as I was at 54 to discover that YHA welcomes people all ages as groups, couples or singles, and even families. And better still, its 150 UK hostels offer excellent value for money in prime locations dotted around the UK’s countryside and cities.
And with Covid-19 forcing ‘UKations’ (a staycation is staying at home with days out), whether it be a hostel, camping or glamping, there’s no better placed accommodation for those looking for short break adventures within the UK.
Despite the pandemic and missing its foreign student business, after some smart changes to facilities, YHA has had a bumper summer. Shared dormitories are out. Self-catering kitchens are closed, restaurants are offering takeaway services only. But private rooms from just £29pn are very much in. And in prime locations such as the Peak District, where I was headed for the weekend, that’s superb value for money. Plus, for the most part, YHA hostels are, themselves, stunning historic buildings.
Unfortunately, YHA Edale Activity Centre, where I’d booked for two nights, is not one of them. Nonetheless, a stone’s throw from Stanage Edge and Monsal Trail, which was where I was headed, it was ideal. Whichever YHA you stay at within the Peak District – there are eight – you’re never far from momentous walks, scenic cycle rides and some of England’s finest stately homes.
You must remember, however, that they are hostels. Don’t roll up expecting the Hilton. Having stayed in a dorm last time round I was looking forward to my private room, grandly named the ‘Lord’s seat’. It turned out to be a small, almost windowless room with a sink and bunkbeds. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if Fletcher had come waltzing in with a towel round his neck and jumped on the top bunk. But as I was aiming to be out all day, clean and functional suited me nicely.
There was, as usual, a small but fairly well-stocked bar where you can buy tea and coffee. A bottle of wine will set you back about twice the supermarket price. Normal for any bar, I guess, but bringing your own is acceptable. And you might want to pack a travel kettle, too, there’s nothing like a cuppa in bed before you set off for the day or to fill a flask.
There’s always a comfortable lounge for guests, which, whether you’re with your family, friends or on your own, is a great place to chat and exchange exploring tips. The takeaway menu was reasonable and popular, but I chose to eat out at two of the park’s many excellent pubs.
Officially, check-in is 5pm, but they’re generally fine with 3pm, which leaves time for a short exploration. Staff are always ready to provide a wealth of local information, including walking maps. Though, I recommend you double-check – I asked the well-meaning receptionist for a nearby cycle route and was directed up Mam Tor. Which, I discovered later, means mother of hill. At 517m high, I felt no shame pushing my bike up the second half …
YHA hostels really are the perfect escape for adventurers confined to UK shores and remain open throughout autumn and winter. Great deals on private rooms can be had across the UK. Book direct for the best price. And if you become a YHA member, which costs just £15 per year, you’ll get a further 10% discount on bookings and meals. Once you discover YHA you’re almost certainly going to want to use them for future UKation adventures.