Wanderer March 2015
YHA The Wanderer
YHA The Wanderer
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The Wanderer, Issue 27, March 2015
 
 
85 Years of YHA Edition
 
On 10th April 1930 YHA was officially formed by a group of enthusiastic volunteers who, inspired by the German movement, determined to provide young working people with an affordable escape from the grinding hardships of inner city life. For 85 years YHA has existed to create unique opportunities for young people and, though we've come a long way since the basic facilities of those early days, our unswerving commitment 'to help all to a greater knowledge, use and love of the countryside' endures.
 
To celebrate our 85th birthday, this edition is dedicated to four of our oldest properties. Join us as we explore the places that inspired the pioneers and discover the magic that remains inside and out of their time-honoured walls.
 
Missed an edition? You'll find all previous newsletters in The Wanderer archive.
 
Map  
 
Why does YHA exist?
 
  Why does YHA exist?  
 
 
Give us 4 minutes of your time and we'll tell you! Watch the YHA Story here.

You can find out more about YHA's fascinating history through our Historical Archive at the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham. Learn more here.
 
 
 
 
 
YHA Street
 
 
YHA Street
 
  Spirituality, sorcery, scenery and shoes  
 
 
The Swiss-style wooden chalet accommodation opened in March 1931, making it our oldest hostel still in operation. And once you take a look at its situation – surrounded by National Trust-managed land and with the Mendip Hills, Somerset Levels and Glastonbury all within easy reach – it's easy to understand its continued appeal.
 
 
 
YHA Street
 
YHA Street
 
Steeped in Pagan belief, Glastonbury Tor is believed to be the home of the King of the Fairies. It's 4 miles away and the top of this 525ft conical hill affords a panorama that's pure magic; on a clear day you can see for miles, whilst misty weather makes the view otherworldly as haze blankets the Somerset Levels below.
 
For spirituality of a different kind, make the 10-mile journey to Wells, the smallest city in England, and visit the medieval Bishop's Palace to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of its 14-acre gardens. If you visit Wells on a Wednesday or Saturday, swing by the marketplace and pick up some local produce to cook later in YHA Street's self-catering kitchen.
 
The Wookey Hole Caves are 11-miles away and are well worth a visit, especially if you're on a family trip. This is the home of the Witch of Wookey Hole – a human-shaped stalagmite that, according to legend, is the form of a witch turned to stone by a monk from Glastonbury. There's plenty more to entertain tourists here, including a museum, handmade paper mill, children's' attractions and the Victorian penny arcade.
 
 
 
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Insider tips from Hostel Manager, Sean:
 
  1  
The Clark family started their shoe business in Street in 1825. Visit the Shoe Museum in the village to find out about them and to view a 1500-strong, century-spanning shoe collection. A smashing way to spend an hour or two and it's free to boot!
 
 
  2  
Take in the romantic ruins and peaceful parkland of Glastonbury Abbey. If you visit in the summer months, take a tour with a costumed guide who'll teach you the history and show you where King Arthur is believed to be buried.
 
 
  3  
The hostel is self-catering so bring some provisions with you. Alternatively, there are plenty of restaurants and pubs to choose from in Street (2 miles away).
 
 
 
Can we put our Trust in your hands?
 
  Can we put our Trust in your hands?  
 
 
To ensure that the organisation survives and thrives long into the future we're looking for 5 talented individuals to join the YHA Board of Trustees. If you're a commercially-minded professional with the gravitas to lead senior decision makers through this exciting period of change, this could be the perfect voluntary position for you. It's an extraordinary opportunity to make a positive impact so visit us to find out more.
 
 
 
 
 
YHA Idwal Cottage
 
 
YHA Idwal Cottage
 
  A timeless climbers' classic  
 
 
Our network's second oldest hostel opened the day after it was acquired, in April 1931, and became an almost overnight success. In Idwal's first year of operation, camp beds had to be squeezed into every available space to accommodate the mountaineers that thronged here to conquer the crags of Snowdonia.
 
 
 
YHA Idwal Cottage
 
YHA Idwal Cottage
 
Situated to the west of Llyn Ogwen, between the Glyderau and the Carneddau, the hostel is surrounded by geographical wonders. Whether you come for a life-affirming moment atop Tryfan – the north ridge ascent begins just 1.5km east of the hotel – or prefer to stay on the Ogwen Valley floor, this place will keep you coming back for more.
 
Step into the spectacular hanging valley of Cwm Idwal to discover a landscape sculpted by ice thousands of years ago. It has the glacial lake of Llyn Idwal at its centre, is encircled by some of Wales' most impressive mountains and is home to a variety of rare and protected plant species.
 
Beyond the immediate vicinity, the enormous 19th-century neo-Norman Penrhyn Castle offers a day out of a different kind. Visit to view its fantastical exterior, admire its extensive collections of Victoriana and paintings, and to wander around its manicured grounds.
 
If you're inspired to visit the oldest YHA in Wales then consider taking a real step back in time with a stay in the Anglesey Hut. The quaint wooden sleeping hut from 1931 has been restored to its original purpose and is now fitted with bunks, electrical sockets and lights. It sleeps 7 and will be available from April.
 
 
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Insider tips from Hostel Manager, Jeroen
 
  1  
Take a walk to Rhaeadr Ogwen (the Ogwen Falls) to watch as cascading water begins its journey from Llyn Ogwen to the sea. While you're there keep a look out for the hidden Roman bridge.
 
 
  2  
Follow in the footsteps of YHA's founders – pick up a copy of the 'Idwal log' at the hostel and relive the walks and scrambles enjoyed by the Merseyside Group in those early years.
 
 
  3  
Visit the sites where Dr Who, Hammer of the Gods and Dragonslayer were filmed. Just ask at reception and we'll point you in right direction.
 
 
 
 
YHA Bridges
 
 
YHA Bridges
 
  Go old school in Shropshire  
 
 
Enjoy a traditional hostelling experience at this former village school set within the wonderfully wild landscape of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. YHA Bridges has, since May 1931, made a lovely base for walkers and cyclists.
 
 
 
YHA Bridges
 
YHA Bridges
 
The Shropshire Way passes right by the hostel so lace up your boots and explore. You'll find the distinctive quartzite hills of Stiperstones and the Snailbeach mines to the west. Don't miss The Bog visitor centre which is housed in one of the last remaining buildings of a lost lead mining village. Indulge in a slice of their famous 'Bog Bake' cake while you're there. Alternatively, head east from the hostel to enjoy the heathland plateau of Long Mynd with its picturesque valleys and streams.
 
The whole area is a nature reserve where birdlife thrives. Come summer time, the air is filled with the song of skylark as well as the distinctive call of the red grouse – which, interestingly, can't be found further south than here.
 
Shropshire is superb for cyclists; there are miles of trails for the cross country biker, stretching into Wales and back. There's plenty of single track for the down-hillers and endless, quiet lanes for road cycling.
 
After a day exploring in the hills, you'll have built up a healthy appetite. Book a 3-course meal at the hostel and follow it up with a pint at The Bridges country pub next door.
 
 
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Insider tips from Hostel Manager, Mick:
 
  1  
For a relatively easy going trail, take to the family-friendly 5.5- mile Stiperstones Circular. You'll pass by the Devil's Chair – a rock upon which, according to legend, the devil sits to sup with the witches of Shropshire – and then it's on to the top of Stiperstones for an incredible view.
 
 
  2  
Don't miss our local market towns Bishops Castle, Church Stretton and Ludlow; they all have their share of book, bicycle and coffee shops.
 
 
  3  
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ironbridge Gorge is 22 miles away. There are 10 museums here and Blists Hill Victorian Town – one of the biggest - offers events and activities year round.
 
 
 
 
YHA Ilam Hall
 
 
YHA Ilam Hall
 
  Gorge on grandeur  
 
 
Though there'd been a small hostel here for a brief spell in 1932, this grand Victorian property was opened as a permanent hostel in May 1935 by the North Midlands group. They recognised the enormous potential of large multi-bedded 'mansion' style hostels and couldn't have chosen a more majestic location.
 
 
 
YHA Ilam Hall
 
YHA Ilam Hall
 
Set in 84 acres of National Trust-managed parkland next to the river Manifold and with Dovedale on its doorstep, this place makes for an idyllic escape from the stresses and strains of city life. 2.5-miles from Ilam Park, the Dovedale Stepping Stones have remained a huge draw for day-trippers since they were laid in the mid-19th century. As you wait to cross, lift your eyes up to admire Thorpe Cloud, an enormous limestone hill to the south. Cross the River Dore and, along the 3-mile stretch of Dovedale towards Milldale, you'll encounter some of the most extraordinary limestone gorge scenery of anywhere in England.
 
Walk by the white crags of the Twelve Apostles, peer into the yawning mouths of Dove Holes and pass the imposing Tissington Spires. You may even discover a little treasure along the way; last year a visitor stumbled upon four coins from the Roman and Late Iron Age in the huge natural arch of Reynard's Cave and Kitchen.
 
Alternatively, if Ilam Hall doesn't sate your appetite for huge houses, visit nearby Sudbury Hall - the lavish 17th-century country home of the Lords Vernon. The Museum of Childhood is also here and offers an opportunity to revel in the nostalgia of a bygone era.
 
 
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Insider tips from Hostel Manager, Emma:
 
  1  
Be a part of a local tradition said to have started after the Black Death of 1348-9 and attend one of Derbyshire's 'Well dressings' in May. 3 miles away, Tissington Village hosts the most famous event. The local tradition sees flower petals placed in clay to create huge pieces of artwork as blessings to the local wells.
 
 
  2  
Jump in the saddle and go for an easy ride around Tissington Trail – the old railway route from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay. There are spectacular views and some great little cafes along the way.
 
 
  3  
About 25 minutes away by car, Carsington Water offers a lovely day out for all the family with a children's play area, visitor centre, watersport centre and an 8-mile trail round the reservoir.
 
 
 
Cotswold Outdoors  
Cotswold  
 
 
Inspiring adventures since 1974
 
With 40 years of experience in outdoor retail, we offer one of the widest ranges of outdoor clothing and equipment. Selecting from over 250 brands allows us to bring you the latest in technology and styles. Not only this, but each product is tested to ensure a high level of quality and value for your money. 15% Discount* for YHA members | shop online now or visit your local store
 
 
 
 
Fresh air and fresh challenges
 
  Fresh air and fresh challenges  
 
 
Our 5-day all-inclusive Summer Camps give 10-19 year olds the chance to try thrilling activities, build confidence and make new friends on an unforgettable holiday in the English countryside. Refined, improved and streamlined for 2015, they'll offer young people the best experience yet but at the same great value price as last year. Plus, 75% bursaries are available. Take a look at our camps and secure a summer they'll remember!
 
 
 
 
 
Next month:
   
 
  Run YHA Edition  
 
 
Ahead of this year's Run YHA trail running festival, we'll be limbering up next month with a look at four places that are perfectly positioned for those raring to lace up their trainers and set themselves free in stunning scenery. And even if just the thought of jogging brings you out in a cold sweat, you'll still find plenty of pointers to help you make the most of our lovely locations.
 
 
 
Next month
 
  Find out how were changing the lives one stay at a time
Find out how were changing the lives one stay at a time
 
Because YHA is a charity, when you stay with us you’re helping keep prices affordable, hostels beautiful and you’re even enriching the lives of young people. Find out more.
 
 
 
 
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