Newsletter > Newsletter archive > March 2017

March 2017

In praise of simple accommodation
There was a time when the Youth Hostel Association was synonymous with simple, inexpensive accommodation, often found in remote locations where there was little else on offer. For a number of years, however, the organisation has been divesting itself of properties that don't fit its portfolio. Quite a few hostels were bought by local enthusiasts who kept them going in a similar fashion to before and often made significant improvements. The old YHA hostel in our own home town, Kirkby Stephen, has been maintained in this way and has become a popular base for the Coast to Coast walk. Many of the divested hostels were able to assume 'Affiliate' status with the YHA and, for an annual fee, remained on the YHA website.

The YHA has now told a number of camping barns and simple hostels that they are terminating this type of partnership with them. This seems a great shame, although no doubt the YHA has its reasons for the move. In Wales two affected hostels, Dolgoch and Ty'n Cornel, were rescued by YHA members who formed a charity known as the Elenydd Wilderness Hostels Trust. Another, Puttenham Eco Camping Barn on the North Downs Way in Surrey, is run entirely by volunteers who raised the £120,000 needed to establish low-priced accommodation for walkers and cyclists.

However all is not lost! Independent Hostels UK, a network of hostels and bunkhouses, is providing marketing and support to many of the camping barns and hostels the YHA is dropping. A list of many of the camping barns and hostels that have left the YHA or are due to leave soon can be found on their website, along with quite a few other tantalisingly attractive places to stay. If you are after an even more basic place to stay the Mountain Bothies Association has around a hundred bothies and shelters in some absolutely stunning and remote locations.

Hunting Scotland's distant past
The trendily named Dig It 2017 aims to uncover Scotland's archaeological secrets and stories throughout the coming year.  The celebration of Scottish archaeology boasts a packed programme of events from organisations across the country. There are opportunities to get muddy at a dig, stroll through a festival or take part in a treasure trail. This Easter, for instance, you can commemorate the bloody Battle of Culloden, learn more about Arthur's Seat's turbulent past, or meet a 'prehistoric potter' at Skara Brae on Orkney.

Another set of high profile events leads up to World Heritage Day on the 18th April, aimed at celebrating Scotland's impressive group of World Heritage Sites. Scotland has a diverse collection of six iconic World Heritage Sites: St. Kilda, Edinburgh Old and New Towns, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, New Lanark, the Antonine Wall and the Forth Bridge. The aim of designated sites is to promote our shared cultural heritage, and to highlight their vulnerability and the efforts required for their protection and conservation.

Dig It! 2017 is co-ordinated by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Archaeology Scotland for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

HF Holidays offer
HF Holidays have been helping people discover iconic landmarks and hidden gems across the world since 1913. Through them you can discover the best of the British countryside, explore Europe or travel to six continents of worldwide wonders. The organisation has consistently been voted the UK's favourite adventure holiday provider.

With 26 Worldwide Journeys to choose from with HF Holidays, there's plenty to choose from for your next adventure. With fantastic discoveries to be made across seven regions, you could find yourself trekking through South American ruins, strolling across white-sand beaches or getting active while enjoying the vibrant cultures of the Caribbean. From Asia and Australasia to North, Central and South America via the Middle East and Africa, their 2017 collection really does have something for everyone.

This year, as a special introduction to discovering more of the great outdoors with HF Holidays you can get £50 off your first booking*. To book or to request a brochure visit or call 0345 470 7558 and quote EP53. To take advantage of the offer use the code EP53 at the checkout.

- *£50 discount is per booking and applies to first time bookers with HF Holidays booked by 30 April 2017
- Non-member associate fee of £10pp.
- Terms and conditions apply - see for full details

Eco-poetry prize winners announced
If you are fond of poetry with an ecological theme check out the winners and commended poems from the 2016 Resurgence Poetry Prize. The awards were founded by former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion and others in 2014. The prizes are all for individual poems rather than collections and you can read them all on the Resurgence Poetry Prize website.

Have you always wanted to summit Snowdon?
One way to feel on top of the world by reaching the summit of the highest mountain in Wales is to join Walk for Parkinson's Snowdon on Saturday 13 May. The 9 mile sponsored walk (more of a clamber, really) can be joined at a cost of just £10 per person. At 1,085m (3,560ft) above sea level your efforts will be rewarded with a real sense of accomplishment and, if you are lucky with the weather, breath-taking views to boot. Along with getting fit and having fun it's an opportunity to raise money for people affected by Parkinson's, every step helping to take us closer to a cure.

A daffodil suggestion

Spring is the time to go out looking for daffodils and bluebells, which will be springing up over the next few weeks, although at different times depending on how far north you are. Philip Ingram's wild daffodil walk (7705) would be a great place to start if you find yourself in North Wales in the coming days.

If bluebells are more your thing, here's a suggestion. Just put 'bluebells' into our 'Search for a word or phrase' search on the homepage and you'll find a set of walks across the country to browse through. You can do the same with 'daffodils' of course. The picture on the left is from M Parkin's 'Daffodil Walk' in the North York Moors (1394).