Interviews

Stepping Out: Hostellers’ Q & A

We spoke to three outdoor enthusiasts to get their thoughts on dorms, dinners and day-walks. Want to appear in the next issue? Email us at [email protected]!

Stuart Bowkett – Housekeeping manager at YHA Manchester

Countryside, city or coast? A mixture of both coast and countryside, as I love the openness of the places I visit to unwind.

Favourite YHA hostel? Has to be Edale for me as it’s in the middle of nowhere with fabulous views and great walks to keep you occupied.

Earliest YHA memory? Strangely enough it was here at YHA Manchester when it first opened, for a friend of mine’s birthday many years ago – long ago before my white hair.

Ideal dorm mate? Anyone who can make me laugh, enjoy a beer or three and does not snore gets my seal of approval.

Perfect hostel dinner? Steak and kidney pudding with creamy mash and mushy peas. An item to pack: A map, as I have no sense of direction without one.

A book for a rainy day? The bible of Manchester United. As a massive United fan this is my book of dreams – current season exempted.

Favourite day-walk? It has to be a local one – Snake Pass in the Peak District. It does usually mean
consuming a beer afterwards.

Book a stay at YHA Manchester here.

Jenna Brown

Jenna Brown – Part-time adventure seeker, full-time HR Assistant. Recently spent 4 days trekking the Sahara Desert.

Countryside, city or coast? To be honest, I don’t have a preference, I like to find adventures in all three.

Favourite YHA hostel? I recently had a great stay at YHA Eskdale which involved good food, a cosy fire, red wine and stargazing.

Earliest YHA memory? During a school trip to Shropshire. I think we enjoyed the stay much more than our teachers!

Ideal dorm mate? Someone who enjoys an in-depth chat. Topic of interest is pretty open, but usually ends up in talk of the universe and outer space!

Perfect hostel dinner? Something with a bit of spice and that can be shared from one dish. Fajitas and a trifle for pudding would go down well!

An item to pack? My microlight jacket. Packable for the often unpredictable British weather, and it can double as a pillow on the go.

A book for a rainy day? I always find reading about others who have overcome difficulties motivating. Wild Swans by Jung Chang is one of my favourite reads.

Favourite day-walk? That’s a really tough one. The Four Falls Trail in the Brecon Beacons was a stand-out day walk for me – it’s such an energising place.

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Judy Kneen – Recently walked the South Downs Way for the second time (25 years after the first time), staying in hostels en route.

Countryside, city or coast? Definitely coast. My knees won’t do hills anymore, but along the coast you can have a gentle stroll or a brisk walk to blow the cobwebs away.

Favourite YHA hostel? It would have to be YHA Eastbourne. It’s recently been rebuilt so it’s modern and clean. And it’s perfectly situated at the beginning (or end!) of the South Downs.

Earliest YHA memory? Cycling around the Isle of Wight with my son and staying in youth hostels. It was a great way to see the island, and to keep a 9-year-old engaged on the holiday.

Ideal dorm mate? Someone who has been to the area before, so they can share local knowledge that you don’t get in the tourist guides.

Perfect hostel dinner? Anything that I don’t have to cook! The last thing I want to do is cook dinner after a lovely day out. But if I had to, it would be a stir-fry of some sort.

An item to pack? Notebook, pen and sellotape. Our evenings are always spent writing a holiday diary, and we stick in items we’ve collected along the way, from museum receipts to
unusual leaves.

A book for a rainy day? When I was walking the South Downs Way, I enjoyed Peter James books because they are set in and around Brighton. You get a feel – albeit a creepy one – for the area.

Favourite day-walk? Along the South Downs Way from Eastbourne to the Eight Bells at Jevington is a nice easy route for all the family. It’s not too far if the weather turns and has a lovely cosy pub.

Book a stay at YHA South Downs here.

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