The Wanderer - Issue#12 - December 2013
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The Wanderer - Issue#12 - December 2013
winter wanderer map
The Winter Wanderer Edition
Dear member,
Merry Christmas! With the best day of the year only a few sleeps away we hope you and yours are enjoying this happiest of holidays. And if you’re yet to fully embrace the festive cheer, fear not as this month we bring you some last minute ideas that are sure to get you in the spirit. Whether you prefer skiing and skating, shopping or stargazing, grab your woollens and get out there to enjoy the very best of the season.
And don't forget, you can find past editions of The Wanderer here - for all the inspiration you need for your next amazing adventure.
    Top of the tree in London
YHA London St Pauls, Carter Lane
When it comes to city based wonderlands, London is top of the tree this winter! And, for easy access to all the capital has to offer, there's no better place to stay than at the centrally-located YHA London St Paul's.
Where to first? Hyde Park Winter Wonderland of course! Great for all the family, there's a Magical Ice Kingdom – a fantastical sub-zero world crafted from ice and snow; the 60 metre high Giant Observation Wheel; a huge selection of rides including the bobsleighing Snow Jet and the North Pole Frozen Fun House; Christmas markets and a traditional Nordic bar (for when the adults need a rest). But don't delay, it ends on 5 January.
Widely regarded as the most spectacular skating destination, the iconic Somerset House Ice Rink is next on our itinerary. And what makes it so special? Well with DJ Nights, a rink-side cocktail bar and a Christmas arcade to enjoy, this place has it all. Pull on those skates and give it a whirl before the ice melts on 5 January.
And finally, we couldn't leave out the January Sales. Get ready to grab yourself a bargain from 1 January. Retail hotspots include Oxford Street, Covent Garden, Regent Street and the West End. And once you've shopped till you dropped, you'll be ready for a delicious meal and a tipple or two from our licensed restaurant. That'll warm you up!
Insider tips: Hostel Manager, Steve:

•  Just a few minutes walk from the hostel, you
   can see a section of Roman wall marking the
   boundar of Londinium.
•  Take a tour of the disused tube station at
   Aldwych. After closure, the station was used
   variously as an air-raid shelter, store for the
   Elgin Marbles and even as a rifle range.
•  Rub shoulders with rock and roll royalty at The
   Dublin Castle, Camden. Watch 5 unsigned bands
   for just £5; and with bands like Arctic Monkeys,
   Killers and Coldplay making their name there,
   who knows who you'll discover.
Twinkle twinkle little star
Add some sparkle to your weekends this winter with a stay at YHA Kielder. Located in the light-pollution free Northumberland National Park, a visit to this Hostel is sure to leave you starry-eyed. Why? Well, that’s down to the area’s 1500 square kilometer Gold Tier Dark Sky Park. Europe’s largest area of protected sky is best viewed from Kielder Observatory. Don’t miss the opportunity to see planets and stars, meteors and moons in all their celestial glory.
By day, Kielder offers a number of ways to recuperate after the stresses and excesses of the festive season. With almost 30 miles of shoreline and surrounded by beautiful forest, Western Europe’s largest man-made lake is the perfect place to get on your bike and pedal away those extra pounds. All abilities are catered for with over 100km of trail to choose from and we highly recommend the Lakeside Way; starting at Kielder Castle, the trail takes in some of the most scenic parts of the lake shore and is a great way to get up close to the many and various species of local wildlife.
Kielder Castle itself houses a number of fascinating exhibitions. Discover the volatile history of the Borderlands, watch Osprey-cam – a live feed from the forest’s nest sites, enjoy the interactive red squirrel exhibition, and work your way to the glittering glass room at the centre of the Minotaur Maze art installation.
After all that, return to the Hostel, nestled in the magical Kielder Forest, for a well-earned meal in our licensed restaurant.
Insider tips: Hostel Manager, Lindsey:

•  Just a few minutes walk from the hostel, you
   Take the 25-minute drive to Bellingham and
   then enjoy a pleasant 2-hour walk to the
   spectacular waterfall of Hareshaw Lynn
•  Take a tour of the disused tube station at
   Discover the sculptures surrounding Kielder
   reservoir. How many can you spot? We counted
   at least 20!
•  Take a trip to see the source of the North Tyne on
   the fellside at Deadwater. Two stone obelisks mark
   the spot.
Twinkle twinkle little star
Inspire an adventure this Christmas with Cotswold Outdoor
Inspire an adventure this Christmas with Cotswold Outdoor
This winter, Cotswold Outdoor are getting active outdoors and to help you to make the most of the outdoors, whatever the weather, you can find amazing offers on your favourite outdoor brands including Haglofs, Rab, The North Face and more. So, beat the winter blues and enjoy the elements. Shop online or in selected stores.
YHA members can also enjoy 15% off** outdoor clothing and equipment at Cotswold Outdoor in store, online or over the phone.
  The chocolate box city is open
YHA YorkFor instant festive cheer, just add York. This chocolate box city looks magnificent at this time of year. Our recently refurbished Victorian mansion is just a stroll away from the city centre and has all you need for a great value stay.
As it’s Christmas, there’s surely no better way to explore the city than with a guided chocolate tour! Take the trail around 10 sites and discover how York became the UK capital of confectionary. A highlight of the tour is the York Chocolate Story attraction; there you too can have a go at making your own sweet treats.
If you’re visiting York before 5 January, don’t miss out on a visit to Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland at York Designer Outlet. Get your skates on and take a spin around The Ice Factor, the North of England’s largest outdoor ice rink; enjoy a little après-skate at the Alpine-inspired bar; and keep the kids happy with a visit to the traditional fun fair and Santa’s grotto.
Finally, if you fancy getting out on the piste this season, forget an expensive trip abroad and instead take the 40-minute drive from the Hostel to Xscape Yorkshire. There you can slide around 1700 tonnes of fresh snow to your heart’s content. So whether you’re a snowboarder, a skier or a sledger, there’s snow better day out than Xscape!
Insider tips Hostel Manager Vicki
•  Indulge in a famous Yorkshire Fat Rascal in the art
   deco elegance of Betty’s Tea Room. The interior decor
   is based on the design of the Queen Mary cruise
   liner’s state rooms!
•  Buy a gift for your special someone at the Shambles.
   Lined with leaning timber-framed buildings, this is
   Europe’s best preserved medieval street and is home
   to quaint shops and superb street entertainers.
•  If you’re visiting from February onwards, take a step
   back to the Georgian period at Fairfax House. The
   winter home of Viscount Fairfax has been restored to
   its former glory and houses the impressive Noel
   Terry collection.
Snow is falling
High up on the mountainside of Mynnedd Llangattock, the bunkhouse offers doorstep access to the magnificent landscape of the Brecon Beacons National Park. At 42 miles wide, this area of great natural beauty is crisscrossed by an astonishing 1250 miles of public footpaths – what better place to cycle or walk off that extra portion of Christmas pud.
We heartily recommend a ramble around the rugged industrial landscape around Blaenavon. Recognised as a World Heritage Site, the topography stands as testament to the area’s nineteenth-century significance as one of the world’s foremost producers of iron. This unique and surprising landscape now flourishes as a nationally-important wildlife habitat.
The ancient woodlands, limestone crags and rare marshland surrounding this remote bunkhouse location offer an opportunity to really get away from it all. If you can bear to tear yourself away, take the 45-minute drive to the cobbled streets of Hay-on-Wye to discover rare Penguins (of the classic literature variety). A bookworm’s paradise, the town boasts more than thirty second hand bookshops including the bizarre but brilliant Murder and Mayhem. Dedicated to detective fiction and eccentrically decorated this is a real one off!
Once you’ve spent your Christmas money on a cracking good read or two, return to the bunkhouse to rustle up your evening repast in its modern self-catering kitchen, before retiring to comfortable en suite accommodation and a well-earned good night’s sleep.
Insider tips: Hostel Manager, Andrew
•  Expert climbers will relish the challenge of the ice
   wall on Llangattock crag. The main ridge offers
   unparalleled views over the snowy Beacons.
•  Explore the longest caving network in Europe and
   spot the inhabitant Lesser Horse Shoe bat. Beginners
   will need to be guided by a qualified instructor but
   we’ll happily help you organise this.
•  Pedal your way around the area’s mountain biking
   network. Used as a winter base by the British Team,
   you can be sure of Llangattock’s cycling credentials.
The snow is falling  
Have a wonderful Christmas and new year from all at YHA!
We’ll be back with more tales from the network next year to fill you with inspiration and wonder. Until then!
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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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