Interviews, Issue 1

Stepping Out: Q&A

We spoke to two YHA members and a Hostel Manager to get their thoughts on dorms, dinners and day-walks.

Want to appear here in the next issue? Email your interest to [email protected]

Q&A: Will Renwick

Youngest ever person to walk around Wales continuously

Mountain, city or coast?
It has to be mountains where I feel most at home, but being by the coast is a close second.

Favourite hostel
YHA Kington. It’s in a market town along Offa’s Dyke Path. It’s not very big but you usually find some interesting characters because it’s a bit out of the way. You get dedicated walkers with some stories to tell.

Earliest YHA memory
The first hostel I stayed in as a kid with my family was YHA Newport in Pembrokeshire. There are great walks along both Pembrokeshire coasts and lots of beaches.

Ideal room mate
Someone that when we both get in from a big day out we can share stories about our walk, preferably over some ales.

Perfect hostel dinner
You can get some really good meals in hostels these days. They understand you need big portions after a long day on the hills. I recently had a really good chicken curry at YHA Keswick.

An item to pack
I try to bring a book that I’m about to finish so I can leave it the dorm and, if I’m lucky, exchange it with another one.

A book for a rainy day
It would probably be something about the local area, local walks, and maybe poems from a local writer.

Favourite day-walk
It would have to be in the Brecon Beacons, along the waterfalls in the Neath Valley from Pontneddfechan. You can walk behind some of them.

Q&A: Rachel Cass

Hostel Manager at YHA London Lee Valley

Mountain, city or coast?
Coast, no question. I was brought up in the North East and I love the sea – it clears the cobwebs away.

Favourite hostel
Am I allowed two? From a city point of view, YHA York. It’s been refurbed in the last two years and it’s amazing. My other would be YHA Boggle Hole. It’s like another world.

Earliest YHA memory
I youth hostelled at school on geography field trips. We went across to the Lake District and stayed at YHA Hawkshead and YHA Windermere.

Ideal room mate
Ideally no snorers! For me it would be like-minded people who want to appreciate the area they’re in. And I like people who are up for talking too.

Perfect hostel dinner
Home-made food with everyone chipping in. YHA runs something called Supper Club, which is just that – a time for everyone to eat together. Something filling – cottage pie’s always good.

An item to pack
A towel. Although shamefully, working for YHA for four and a half years, it’s the one thing I always forget!

A book for a rainy day
Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon. It appreciates how different people think and feel.

Favourite day-walk
That’s hard! Anywhere on the coast really. The Coast & Castles route in the North East would be a big favourite.

Book your stay at YHA London Lee Valley here.

Ian Wolstencroft

Leader of local walking group since 1981

Mountain, city or coast?
I prefer the mountains for hostelling. After a long day on the fells it’s always good to share stories with other walkers and cyclists.

Favourite hostel
My favourite YHA property is YHA Borrowdale. It’s in a great location, surrounded by hills, so you can walk in all four directions.

Earliest YHA memory
My earliest memory of hostelling was in Bath in 1969 when I was on a school trip. Lots of walking, writing notes and looking for the signs of spring!

Ideal room mate
Other than my wife, it would be someone who doesn’t snore and has excellent personal hygiene!

Perfect hostel dinner
Something tasty like fish or pasta, washed down with at least two glasses of wine.

An item to pack
There are a number of things I always pack but I’ll always have the appropriate maps and Wainwright with me…on the fells and also in the evening at the pub to plan the next day’s walk.

A book for a rainy day
I still walk on rainy days. There’s no such thing as bad weather…just wrong clothes!

Favourite day-walk
In the Lakes, start at The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, walk up The Band, across The Climbers Traverse, up The Great Slab to Bowfell, onwards to Esk Pike and Great End and then back to Langdale via Angle Tarn and into the Climbers Bar…perfect!

Previous ArticleNext Article