wanderer/february
 
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  the wanderer
in this issue the adventure edition

We hope you enjoyed our first members-only newsletter last month, and that it got you thinking about exploring England’s great cities. If you missed it, it’s still available for you to check out here.

This month, we’ve picked out four ideal destinations for those craving a little adventure. And because we realise adventure means different things to different people, it’s not all about mountain biking and white water rafting! Whether you’re a group of friends in search of an adrenalin rush, or a family looking for a more leisurely escape, we’re sure there’ll be something that hits the spot.

These are some of the UK's most wild and breathtaking locations, which means they're popular all year round, so book early to avoid missing out on the action.

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a gateway to the grandeur of north wales
Picturesque Portmeirion was the star of the cult 60s TV series The Prisoner betws-y-coed Situated two miles from the beautiful Welsh village of Betws-y-Coed, this hostel is part of a lively tourist complex opposite the Swallow Falls. With a café-bistro, pub and even a sauna on site, it’s a perfect base for exploring magnificent Snowdonia.

It’s not just the area’s outstanding natural beauty that will take your breath away. The rapids at the National White Water Centre in Bala are sure to get your pulse racing, while the Marin Trail, a world-famous Marin downhill mountain bike trail, is just five minutes’ ride from the hostel. Plus of course there’s Snowdon itself – though if you’re not up to ascending it on foot, the Snowdon Mountain Railway offers a less taxing way to the top.

Non-climbers can also investigate the imposing Beaumaris Castle on Anglesey, which was built as part of Edward I's campaign to conquer the north of Wales after 1282. Historian Arnold Taylor has described Beaumaris Castle as Britain's "most perfect example of symmetrical concentric planning". One not to be missed then. While you’re in the area, it’s also a great opportunity to lose yourself in the village of Portmeirion, which served as the setting for the cult 1960s TV series The Prisoner and is one of the country’s most unique places. And just 10 miles away is the Sygun Copper Mine, where you can tour the large colourful chambers and marvel at the magnificent stalactites and stalagmites.

Peter's top tips in Betwy-s-coed

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A gem in the peaks
Be sure to brave the fearsome Winnats – the scourge of the Tour of Britain Casleton losehill hall Nestled within the Peak District National Park, where the limestone dales meet the grit-stone moors, this newly-refurbished Victorian Gothic mansion is ideally situated for adventurous spirits.

Right on your doorstep you’ll find the dramatic Limestone Way – named for the scenery along its route – as well as four renowned caverns. These include Treak Cliff Cavern – once a lead mine – and Peak Cavern, which is Britain’s largest natural cave entrance and the second largest in the world. You can also marvel at the dawn or sunset from the ramparts of the Celtic fortress on Mam Tor, walk up the 636-metre-high Kinder Scout, or catch a glimpse of Peveril Castle, one of the area’s most impressive Norman ruins.

If you prefer seeing scenery from a bike saddle, there's a wide range of local trails suitable for all abilities, including the Mam Tor Classic. If you’re feeling brave, try and conquer the fearsome Winnats – the scourge of the old Tour of Britain race – though gentler rides can be had by heading south for the limestone dales or north for the Dambuster trail.

Bike hire is available locally, and just in case you like your trails muddy, the hostel boasts a very handy bike wash. Then, once you’re all cleaned up, you can wind down over a pint of homemade ale brewed by hostel manager Alistair in his micro-brewery. It’s the stuff of legend.

Alistair's top tips in Castleton

A home from home
city

Stay snug in the city with Cotswold Outdoor With over 250 top brands now available online you can get all the clothing and equipment you need, wherever and whenever you need it. Use your 15% YHA discount* online or in any of Cotswold Outdoor’s stores nationwide.

 

Cotswold check it out

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A hub for thrillseekers just a hop from the capital
Go white water rafting where Team GB took Gold and Silver at the London 2012 Olympics London Lee Valley It’s hard to believe that this peaceful spot, set in 10,000 acres of country park and waterways, is just a 25-minute train ride from London. But don’t let the landscape fool you – a break here can deliver just as much of a rush as a few days in the city.

If you’re a water sports addict, it doesn’t have to be summer for you to get your fix. Book a stay at one of the hostel’s six waterside log cabins, and you can head to the Herts Young Mariners Base next door to try your hand at kayaking, rafting, canoeing or even dragon boat racing. There’s even a chance to go white water rafting where Team GB took Gold and Silver in the canoe slalom at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

You’ll also find a milder palette of activities such as ice-skating and horse riding on offer, along with miles of traffic-free trails suitable for cycling, running or walking. And if you want to slow things down a little, a stroll through the country park provides plenty of opportunity for birdwatching (the best time to go for a wander is around dusk, when the park is quieter and you can hear the wildlife of the area truly come to life.) And just a few miles away the villages of Broxbourne and Waltham Abbey await, where you can explore the historic settlements scattered around the town.

Natalie's top tips in Lee Valley

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A delight in the heart of the Lake District
Stunning scenery and thrilling terrain make for a truly exhilarating experience Ambleside When this hostel reopens on 3 May following a £1.4 million renovation, you’ll be able to relax in the new café and bar and admire Lake Windermere from the terrace. Book before 28 February, by calling 01629 592 700 or click here, and you’ll receive 20% off your next stay – just quote code NEW20-002.

The hostel’s location is ripe for exploration by mountain bike, with its stunning scenery and thrilling terrain making for a truly exhilarating experience. And there’s a brand new indoor climbing facility in Ambleside, boasting amazing life-like crags and rocks for beginners and pro-climbers alike.

If all that sounds a bit too strenuous, it’s possible to take a scenic boat trip across the lake, with the pier a stone’s throw away. Be sure to check out local curiosities such as Wray Castle – a mock-Gothic fortress on Windermere’s shores complete with turrets and towers – and Hill Top, the working farm owned by Beatrix Potter that was the setting for many of her tales.

The Keswick Mountain Festival is also not to be missed, with the chance to hear stories from famous adventurers and celebrities. As a member you can get 10% off on speaker tickets, just call the Theatre By The Lake Box Office - 01768 774 411 and quote YHA2013. The offer is valid until 28 February.

Peter's top tips inAmbleside

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The YHA Guide is now on the app store!
IPhones

Our essential guide is now available for download from the App Store, putting inspiration and ideas for a great day out or holiday in the palm of your hand.

And if you need somewhere to stay last-minute, you can also search our 140 locations for your nearest hostels and click to call our booking line.

Download Our app from the apple app store
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Next month: the walking edition right-block
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Think nothing beats exploring the British countryside on foot? Then watch out for our March Newsletter. In this edition we’ll be highlighting the hostels that best lend themselves to walking breaks, offering trails and terrain to suit everyone from weekend wanderers to hard-core hikers.

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