Interviews, Issue 6

Hostellers Q&A

Paul Kavanagh, Manager at YHA Penzance

Countryside, city or coast? I can’t live without the sea. Even my holidays are at sea level. I ventured to London once – I enjoyed the hustle and bustle but always had a return train ticket.

Favourite hostel? I’ve stayed in many throughout the world, but my two favourites would be YHA Dartmoor and YHA Tintagel. I used to cycle to them both after work in Plymouth.

Earliest YHA Memory? I was 16 and cycled with my sister to YHA Dartmoor. I remember being rudely awakened by the warden ringing a bell at 7am. I’m glad some things have moved on!

Ideal overseas destination? The travel bug was started for me with a trip to mainland Greece. I stayed in Athens for a few days then headed to the coast.

Perfect hostel dinner? A beautiful cottage pie grilled with cheese and served with vegetables that I can identify is an ideal end to a day. I could also eat breakfast at any time!

An item to pack? I went to the Soviet Union and took Mars Bars – they had a great exchange rate. These days I pack my binoculars and walking boots, but I still take Mars Bars.

A book for a rainy day? For a hearty chuckle, Bill Bryson’s Notes From A Small Island. Once you’ve read this, try Down Under, where he believes everything he touches will harm him.

Favourite day-walk? The coastal walk from Cape Cornwall to Porthcurno – seven miles of hidden coves, long sandy beaches, stunning cliffs and, most importantly, a café for a cream tea.

 

Jon Grosz, Weekend outdoorsman and fell-basher

Countryside, city or coast? Not the city! I don’t mind a city-break now and again, but it’s the countryside I enjoy being in the most – and the Lake District the best of all. 

Favourite hostel? YHA Black Sail, hiding in the heart of the Lakes between Ennerdale and Wastwater. It’s a beautiful and remote escape with a world of iconic walking from its doorstep. 

Earliest YHA Memory? I spent five years in the Air Training Corps, and my first YHA stay was somewhere in North Wales during an adventure training weekend.

Ideal overseas destination? Greenland or Iceland for some remote Arctic Circle adventure. I’d also love to trek to Everest Base Camp. 

Perfect hostel dinner? I’ve usually been out in the mountains all day, so something filling like bangers and mash or a pasta dish is great – along with a beer of course! 

An item to pack? A towel! I always seem to forget a towel. I pack light, but try to remember the items I’ll need to make my stay comfortable.

A book for a rainy day? If I’m travelling light, one of Wainwright’s walking guides. If I’ve got more space, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller or Into the Silence by Wade Davis.

Favourite day-walk? Helvellyn – my favourite mountain and the one I’ve walked the most. There’s a great circular route from Glenridding
near Ullswater.

 

David Mellor, Family blogger at pottyadventures.com

Countryside, city or coast? It’s got to be the countryside for me, preferably in among some awe-inspiring mountains and lakes. That said, we do love coastal trips too.

Favourite hostel? We love YHA Snowdon Pen-y-Pass. Smack bang at the bottom of two of my favourite routes up the mountain. We couldn’t ask for a better location!

Earliest YHA Memory? My earliest YHA memory was on a school trip to London aged about 11. I think it’s fair to say things have come a long way since those days.

Ideal overseas destination? I’d love to explore South America, particularly Patagonia and Chile. The Torres del Paine National Park is definitely on my bucket list.

Perfect hostel dinner? If I’m staying with YHA I’m generally doing something active the next day, so a main of carbs with a side serving of more carbs please.

An item to pack? A silk sleeping bag liner for a touch of nighttime luxury. Once you’ve tried one you’ll never be without it!

A book for a rainy day? Something like White Noise by Don DeLillo. It’s full of satire and black comedy – a really good read.

Favourite day-walk? Anywhere with my family. There’s nothing quite like strapping your baby into the carrier and coercing your toddler to put some miles in, and then heading out onto the hills.

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