Wanderer February 2014
The Wanderer - Issue#14 - January 2014
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The Wanderer - Issue#14 - January 2014
the best of british map
The Best of British Edition
 
Dear member,
 
This month we celebrate the quirks, traditions and extraordinary events that make Britain great. Expect the unexpected as we've done our very best to seek out the obscure, the surprising and more than a little quintessential British eccentricity. In addition, we're delighted to host our friends north of the border. Look out for SYHA's guest hostel spot as they fly the flag for Scotland – and don't forget your member discount applies there too!
 
As ever, if you fancy taking a look back through The Wanderer archive you can do so here.
    Variety is the spice of life
 
  YHA Alfriston
Where better to start our Great British adventure than at this magnificent 16th-century Sussex flint house. YHA Alfriston is just 400 metres from the South Downs Way and 3 miles from the Seven Sisters Country Park giving you easy access to achingly beautiful landscapes and abundant outdoor adventures.
 
This property also makes a superb base for a day in Brighton. Vibrant, vivacious and diverse, there’s something for everyone here - whether it’s independent shops, the famous Pavilion and Palace Pier, or its edgy and exciting arts scene. For something off the beaten track, try a Brighton Sewer tour. Available May to September, these award-winning tours take visitors on a journey through a labyrinth of Victorian tunnels.
 
If you’re planning a July visit, don’t miss the opportunity to witness incredible feats of human ingenuity at the annual Worthing International Birdman. This hugely popular event sees competitors fling themselves off Worthing Pier in all manner of human-powered flying machines. Entries range from the sublime to the ridiculous!
 
Finally, the Lewes Bonfire is another of the area’s unmissable events. The UK’s biggest November 5th celebrations see local bonfire societies dress in traditional costume and conduct a series of spectacular torch lit processions alongside thrilling firework displays. The procession of the crosses, commemorating the 17 Lewes martyrs burnt at the stake in the 1550s, is goose pimple inducing!
 
Whatever you get up to, at the end of a busy day you’ll welcome the opportunity to put your feet up in the hostel’s Tudor beamed lounge before tucking into a tasty meal in our licensed restaurant.
Insider tips from hostel manager Ade
 
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Serenity, secrets or speed?
 
Enjoy the best of both town and country with a stay in this gorgeous, converted 18th-century farmhouse. Located in the village of Bradwell, and with North Loughton Valley Park on the doorstep, YHA Milton Keynes offers a quiet and picturesque base for exploring the local area and its many attractions.
 
Don’t miss a visit to Bletchley Park. Unlock the secret world of the World War II Codebreakers at this fascinating heritage attraction nestled within the Buckinghamshire countryside. It was here that Alan Turning and his colleagues broke the Enigma code, helping to shorten the war and secure Allied victory. This June will see the completion of a new visitor centre and the addition of interactive elements inside the Codebreaking Huts, so you may want to time your visit accordingly.
 
Just a 25-minute drive from the hostel is Silverstone, home to the F1 British Grand Prix in July and MotoGP British Grand Prix in August. ‘Behind the scenes’ tours, thrill rides around the track and helicopter experiences are available so there’s still plenty to attract motorsport fans on non-race days.
 
Visit us at the beginning of March and watch a race of a very different variety. Reputedly first run in 1445, the time-honoured Olney Pancake Race takes place on Shrove Tuesday and sees local women sprint through the town with a frying pan and pancake. The winner is the first to get to the parish church, flip her pancake and receive the ‘kiss of peace’ from the verger. Now you don’t see that every day!
 
Insider tips: Hostel Manager, Lucy:
 
Serenity, Secret or Speed
 
The best of British brands available at Cotswold Outdoor
The best of British brands available at Cotswold Outdoor
 
Britain has a lot to offer the outdoor enthusiast from the rolling hills of The South Downs to the deep caverns and fresh spring wells of The Peak District. It is also the birth place for many British outdoor brands including: Berghaus, Rab and Mountain Equipment who have all developed their ranges to cope with the changing and often surprising conditions of the great British countryside and further afield.
 
Find them all, plus many more at Cotswold Outdoor. YHA members receive 15% off* in store and online.
    The weird, the wonderful and Wordsworth
 
YHA Hawse EndWe’re willing to wager that many of our members have already visited the lovely Lake District. And for good reason - the area boasts England’s highest mountain and deepest lake, and inspired some of the greatest Romantic poetry ever written. But, have you ever thought of hiring a hostel to yourself? Do just that with a stay at our Exclusive Hire property YHA Hawse End. Overlooking Derwentwater and with Keswick just across the lake, this stone cottage makes the perfect escape.
 
Take a trip to The Puzzling Place in Keswick and, trust us, you won’t believe your eyes. The World of Illusion exhibition is great fun for all the family with its interactive anti-gravity, forced perspective and hologram optical illusions. Don’t forget your camera! If you think your day in Keswick couldn’t get any stranger, think again. Next stop is The Cumberland Pencil Museum. This charming museum charts the local history of pencil manufacture, is home to the world’s longest colour pencil and even has a special exhibition on WWII gadget pencils. You’ll never look at the humble pencil in the same way again!
 
This June will see the 10th annual Woolfest come to Cockermouth. A celebration of nature’s finest fibre, the event showcases the very best of textile design and wool craft. Winner of the 2012 Cumbria Tourism Award Event of the Year, Woolfest is well worth weaving into your weekend.
On a very different note, the third Saturday in September sees the market town of Egremont host the World Gurning Championships. Anyone can compete in this extraordinary display of grotesque face pulling so why not have a go – just be careful if the wind changes.
 
Insider tips Hostel Manager Deborah
 
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Culture, heritage and centuries of change
 
Welcome to Yorkshire and one of the prettiest market towns around. YHA Helmsley is located just inside the North York Moors National Park, close to the start of the Cleveland Way, and is the perfect base for visiting North Yorkshire’s most popular attractions.
 
Within a 5 minute walk of the front door, you’ll find Helmsley Castle. Take the audio tour to discover 900 years of fascinating medieval, Tudor and Civil War history or simply enjoy a picnic in the glorious grounds. Next, continue on to Rievaulx Abbey - a remarkably complete abbey ruin considering its tumultuous history. Once you’ve enjoyed a good walk round this beautiful site why not reward yourself with refreshments from the tea room – we’ve heard the scones are fabulous.
 
Talking of food, if you’re visiting the area over Spring Bank Holiday weekend, the Malton Food Lovers Festival promises to be a colourful culinary carnival with celebrity chefs, wine tasting and a smorgasbord of local produce. Another highlight of the local festival calendar is Pickering Wartime Weekend, 10-12 October 2014. With street parades, re-enactments and plenty of period dress, this is your opportunity to experience the spirit of the 1940s.
 
Insider tips: Hostel Manager, Neil
 
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Culture, heritage and centuries of change  
     
    Great Scot! Theres so much to explore
 
Located on Orkney’s Mainland and close to the centre of the islands’ biggest town, this well-equipped hostel makes an ideal base for exploring the 70 or so islands that make up the archipelago.
 
Orkney boasts unique landscapes; an astonishing variety of rare wildlife, flora and fauna; and a treasure trove of Neolithic monuments. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney offers an important insight into Neolithic life, society and spirituality. We heartily recommend a visit to all four monuments: Maes Howe, the Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae – known as the “Scottish Pompeii”.
 
A cyclist’s paradise, the islands are ripe for hours of pedal-powered exploration. We recommend a cycling trip to the Island of Rousay; only a twenty five minute ferry hop from the Mainland, this place is known as the Egypt of the North on account of its rich archaeological pickings. Rousay is hilly but the climb is worth it just for the astonishing views.
 
Kirkwall itself has plenty to see and do. St Magnus Cathedral, a magnificent sandstone building towering over the town, is the most northerly cathedral in Britain. Be sure to take a guided tour to enjoy the magnificent views from its tower. The cathedral lends its name to an international arts festival held annually in June. If your visit coincides, expect world-class musical performances and a celebration of dance, literature and the visual arts. Kirkwall venues also take part in May’s Orkney Folk Festival. With over 30 events including concerts, ceilidhs, workshops and talks, this is one no self-respecting folkie should miss.
 
Insider tips Hostel Manager Gareth
 
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Food, glorious food!
The British Isles is one of the best larders there is, so why would we source our ingredients from anywhere else? Well we wouldn’t. We do our best to use as much locally-sourced, seasonal and ethically grown food as possible in our menus. All our fresh meat, with the exception of bacon, proudly carries the Red Tractor accreditation and all of our lamb is Welsh.
Explore our new look menu for 2014.
Assured Food Standards  
Cycle Edition
We’re gearing up for a great year of cycling with next month’s edition. With the Tour de France coming to our shores in summer and cycling events happening around the country, 2014 is the Year of the Bike. Whatever your level of ability or preferred terrain we’ll be bringing you all the inspiration you need to get the wheels turning on a pedal-powered escape.
Cycle Edition
Cycle Edition
    Find out how
Find out how we're changing 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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