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the wanderer
in this issue the walking edition Dear member,

The daffs and blossom blooming can only mean one thing: spring is officially here. But believe it or not there’s something even more exciting than the imminent leaping of lambs and rabbits – it’s the third edition of our exclusive members’ newsletter of course.

This month, inspired by the changing weather, we've looked far and wide to find four ideal destinations for, well, walking far and wide. And we’re happy to report that we’ve uncovered something to suit everyone, from the weekend wanderers to the hard-core hikers. So come on; it’s time to get out there and get your boots into Britain (after you've had a good old read of course).

And take a wander through our past issues anytime in our Wanderer Archives

A gem on the edge of Europe's largest forest
The ideal place to see the stars Byrness With roaring log fires, hand pulled local craft ales and delightful home cooked meals served in a cosy setting, it’s no wonder that this walker friendly hostel has received a 5 star rating.

The only English hostel to receive the accolade, no less. The truth is, even if it wasn’t situated at the penultimate stop along the Pennine Way, this hostel – set in two former lumberjack cottages – could still make any walkers’ day. It can make any walkers’ night as well, thanks to its beautiful undisturbed view of the stars. What better place to relax then, before taking on the final leg of the oldest and most demanding trail in the British Isles?

If covering 268 miles of rugged English terrain sounds a little too much like hard work however, don’t fret. Roman and Bronze Age sites of historical interest are within easy reach and the heather-clad moors of the less taxing Cheviot hills are practically begging to be climbed (in between tea breaks of course).

While you’re in the area, make sure to look out for the wildlife that abounds here including red squirrels, deer and buzzards. If you’re lucky you might spot one of the UK's oldest and most elusive herd of animals – Northumberland’s wild British primitive goats. If you’re feeling brave you could even join the 67th running of the Chevy Chase (not a Hollywood actor; round these parts it’s a challenging 20 mile fell race through some of the finest upland scenery to the top of the Cheviots and Hedgehope taking place on 6th July).

Joyce's top tips in Byrness

A rural retreat for all the family
Lose your head in the clouds up the highest peak in southern Britain Danywenallt Situated next to the Talybont Reservoir, this charming converted farmhouse is ideally placed for both those looking for fresh air and fresh challenges. With cracking food, a cosy lounge and a wood burning stove, there’s everything you could wish for upon your return.

Surrounded by wooded slopes, high peaks, waterfalls and trails, this hostel’s location is ripe for exploring on foot. Spend your days revelling in the glorious colours of the rich and varied landscape. Then, as night draws in, gaze up to enjoy another area of rare significance – the Brecon Beacons have won status as one of only five ‘International Dark Sky Reserves’ on the planet.

Those looking for a more energetic activity break should take on Pen y Fan, one of the three major peaks in the Brecon horseshoe, and a must for many serious walkers. Breathtaking mountain scenery awaits and a real sense of achievement once you’ve hauled yourself a whopping 886 metres up to the red table top summit. Along the way, look out for red kites in the mountain tops, Bronze age burial cairns and even wreckage from a second world war plane up on the horseshoe. Majestic stuff.

Toni's top tips for Danywenallt

module 4 left Stay snug in the city with Cotswold Outdoor Get the best range, fit and boots and use your YHA 15% discount*. A well-fitted pair of boots is essential whatever path you choose. Visit any of our 67 stores nationwide where our expert staff can fit your new or existing boots. Click here to learn about choosing the right boots.

  Cotswold check it out
Startling contrasts on the banks of the river Wye
A breathtaking 136 mile walk of startling contrasts awaits Wye Valley Three things make a great walk, if you ask us: great weather, great company and great scenery. We can’t help you with the first two, but this definitely has point three ticked off nicely. Set in 25 acres on the banks of the River Wye, it’s close to the heart of the Royal Forest of Dean and on the Wye Valley Walk too.

And that’s not all. Symonds Yat, a magnificent destination with fantastic views of the Black Mountains and Herefordshire, is a mere 4 mile wander away. If you’re feeling energetic, a breathtaking 136 mile walk of startling contrasts awaits. From ravine gorges cloaked in woodland, through to rugged and remote uplands, follow the Wye through the battle scarred Anglo-Welsh borders to where it pours in rocky cascades from its mountain source.

It doesn’t all have to be huff and puff though. Far from it. Choose to take it easy and you can simply enjoy the flora and fauna, the myriad of small paths and vast array of ancient woods and new plantations that thrive in this, one of Britain’s most ancient woodlands.

Also, don’t miss the splendidly preserved Goodrich Castle, just a 1.5 mile walk away. Standing majestically on a wooded hill, the 11th century fortress provides some wonderful views from its battlements. And if you do ever tire of walking (hard to imagine, we know) you can rest your legs and let the water do the work, with several canoe hire companies just downstream.

Linda's top tips for Wye Valley

Perfect for peaks and lakes
Watch the sunrise over Great Gable and set over Pillar Black Sail You can't get much further away from it all than this, England’s most remote hostel. Located in a traffic-free valley, this shrine for fell walkers is as tranquil as a stay in the Lakes gets.

Accessible only on foot, walkers face a 2 mile trek into the mountains of the central Lake District just to reach this former shepherd's bothy. The fact that they’ve been doing so in their droves for decades perhaps tells you all you need to know. It’s off the grid, without internet, television or decent mobile connection: In other words, it’s perfect.

For walkers looking for mountains to conquer, Black Sail's proximity is hard to rival. It lies in the shadow of both the iconic Great Gable and Pillar mountains. Yet despite their undoubtedly epic charms it was Haystacks that beat them all for influential fell walker and author, Alfred Wainwright: “The summit area of Haystacks is supreme. This is in fact the best fell-top of all.” Spoilt for choice? Just a bit.

If you’d prefer something a little tamer though, make like a miner and climb the old route to the top of the Honister Slate Mine, thanks to the UK’s only via ferrata (latin for ‘Iron Road’ don’t you know). Nestled by the mountain tarns and streams of the Lake District, it’s a firm favourite with young and old alike. And it’s just 4 miles from the hostel. Perfect for those weary legs then.

Sue's top tips for Black Sail

Join us on the Great South West Walk
The South West Coast Path Association celebrates its 40th year in 2013. And you can help give the whole Coast Path a fantastic birthday present.

You can take part in a series of expertly guided sponsored walks to help them reach their fundraising target of £250,000 and ensure the survival of the trail for years to come. Find out more and sign up at www.greatsouthwestwalk.co.uk

To help you on your way, YHA is offering 25% off on hostels along the route for stays between 1st March and 30th June. Simply quote SWCP40-013 online or via our contact centre. This offer is available at most of our hostels along the way including Minehead, Exford, Tintagel, Boscastle,Treyarnon, Perranporth, Land's End, Penzance, Lizard, Coverack, Golant, Boswinger, Salcombe, Exeter, Beer, Portland, Litton Cheney, Lulworth Cove and Swanage.

Get walking week Ramblers unite
The Ramblers will be hosting Great Britain’s biggest ever short walks festival from 4 - 11 May. This festival is supporting Britain on Foot, a campaign to encourage more people in Britain to get active in the great outdoors. Get involved today.

To find more about the Britain on Foot national campaign, and loads of their outdoor events go to www.britainonfoot.co.uk

Next month - The History Edition
Rather step back in time than climb up a mountain? You’ll want to keep an eye out for The Wanderer in April then. In this next edition, we’re going to be showcasing some of the most historic locations in the UK and the hostels best placed to explore their rich and varied pasts from. It’s sure to go down in history as one of our best.
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