Alan Hinkes OBE

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Alan Hinkes OBE

Alan Hinkes Outdoors

Alan Hinkes OBE is the only Briton to have climbed all 14 of the world’s highest mountains over 8,000m and is also a regular user of YHA hostels. The North Yorkshire-based climber and outdoors enthusiast is the first ambassador for YHA (England and Wales) in its 84-year history.

Q: What are your 4 favourite YHA's?

Alan Hinkes in North Allerton

A: 1. Black Sail – I love the remoteness of YHA Black Sail. The fact it’s only accessible with your efforts by foot or bike, only adds to its appeal for me.

2. Pen Y Pass – the mountaineering heritage surrounding this YHA Hostel is fascinating. I am delighted that YHA is investing in it and I am looking forward to visiting once the refurbishment is complete.

3. Ambleside – three words ‘Location, Location, Location

4. This is a hard choice and it’s difficult to choose between Whitby, Grinton Lodge and St Pancras. Both very different in terms of location but right up there with my favourites. The view of St Pancras railway station from the bedrooms at the front of the hostel is great.


Malham is next on my list to visit so, who knows, this could change. Interestingly, if I had to name my favourite YHAs in the world, I would choose the same.


Q: When did you stay in your first YHA and what is your memory of it?

A: My very first visit to a YHA was more than 40 years ago. I was on a solo walking trip in the Lake District. I stayed at Black Sail and YHA Ambleside, although not the YHA Ambleside we know today. The original YHA Ambleside was located in what is now the Queens Hotel. It was in the days when Youth Hostels had a strict curfew and were locked up at 10pm and I had to use the drainpipe to get to my room the night I stayed.


Q: How many Hostels have you stayed at?

A: Too many and too many times to count! I am a regular guest at YHAs in the Lake District, North of England and London.


Q: Why do you choose to stay in YHAs?

A: YHAs always have, and continue to offer friendly, good value accommodation. They are situated in amazingly diverse locations. From the centre of the Capital to the remoteness of the Ennerdale Valley in the Lake District The rural location of many YHAs holds great appeal for me as they are ideal bases for the walking, climbing and outdoor pursuits that I love.

Alan HinkesAlan Hinkes at the foot of Everest


Q: Which hostel has the best view?

A: It’s a difficult choice and virtually impossible to single out one YHA, but Ambleside,
Langdale and Whitby are all on my shortlist.


Q: Can you recall a particularly amazing route you have done while staying at one of our hostels?

A: One route that stands out in particular for me is a three day fell walk beginning at YHA Black Sail. Scrambling up Mickledore, which is a narrow ridge connecting the mountains of Sca Fell and Scafell Pike (the highest in England). I spent one night out in the open where I bivouacked on Mickledore in a sleeping bag and a plastic bivy sac out in the elements all night. Just great! The next day I continued to YHA Ambleside. The remote wild lakeland along the route was breath-taking.

Alan Hinkes Walk

Q: Have you had any particularly hairy experiences on a walking route in the UK?

A: I have had hairy experiences climbing but not too many when I’ve been walking – yet! One that does stand out for me is the first time I was on Striding Edge as a young teenager on a school trip. There have been many accidents on Striding Edge particularly in bad weather and I went up it in strong wind and rain wearing a cycle cape. It billowed out like parachute nearly sucking me off the ridge. It was extremely hairy to say the least but luckily it didn’t put me off.


Q: What do you like to do when you arrive back at a hostel after completing a route?

A: I could say that I like to crack open a beer, but in reality a Grower's Cup real coffee black or tea with whole milk and no sugar, is really what hits the sport for me.


Q: Any tips you would give people who want to get into walking?

A: Do it. You will feel great.


Q: Why do you feel passionate about supporting YHA?

A: Youth Hostels are a great place to meet people and a brilliant base for outdoor activities. YHA was an influence in my early hillwalking trips and staying in youth hostels helped me get out into the hills for adventure – and look where that led me…Everest, K2, etc.

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