Interviews, Issue 12

Stepping Out: Hostellers’ Q&A

We spoke to three outdoor enthusiasts to get their thoughts on dorms, dinners and day-walks.

Katherine Dixson

Freelance writer and proofreader at waybeyondwords.co.uk

Katherine Dickson
Katherine Dixon

Countryside, city or coast?
Living in the heart of England about as far away from the sea as you can get, I love escaping to the coast for its invigorating sights, sounds and smells.

Favourite hostel?
YHA Tintagel, where the quirky quarryman’s cottage provided a safe haven from the shocking weather! Lovely cosy atmosphere and the welcome from Volunteer Manager Liz was second to none.

Earliest YHA memory?
Getting away from it all in my early 20s to the simplicity of YHA Maeshafn in North Wales. I recently discovered its significance in YHA history, so feel privileged to have visited before its closure.

Ideal overseas destination?
Years ago I hostelled around Spain and Portugal, and enjoy going back for the weather, culture and food! Mallorca and Menorca are hard to beat for walking.

Perfect hostel dinner?
We had great fish and chips at YHA Brecon Beacons Danywenallt, with Brecon Gold beer. If self-catering, it would most likely be pasta or a bacon butty.

An item to pack?
I enjoy travel writing so my notebook and pencil are essential. Despite electronic gadgetry, old habits die hard.

A book for a rainy day?
Gloomy weather requires a bit of cheering up, so how about Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island”, a rib-tickling assessment of us Brits.

Favourite day-walk?
Any permutation from the network of varied possibilities around my Kinver base, featuring the Staffordshire Way, the Staffs & Worcs Canal and the sandstone escarpment of Kinver Edge.

Matt Bark

General adventurer and outdoor blogger at majaba.co.uk

Matt Bark
Matt Bark

Countryside, city or coast?
Definitely countryside. I like the availability of coffee in cities, but I really love disappearing into the country for an adventure.

Favourite hostel?
The Gatcliffe Trust hostel on Berneray in the Outer Hebrides is absolutely beautiful. Of the YHA ones, I’ve gone back to YHA Castleton Losehill Hall again and again.

Earliest YHA memory?
YHA Brecon Beacons Danywenallt on my first ever trip hill walking about 15 years ago, a trip that started my love for outdoor activities.

Ideal overseas destination?
The French Alps when they’re covered in snow!

Perfect hostel dinner?
Anything at the bar at YHA Ambleside, sat looking out at the sun setting over Windermere.

An item to pack?
A USB multi socket adapter. With a phone, GoPro, Garmin and bike lights to charge I always need more sockets!

A book for a rainy day?
I really enjoy the Terry Pratchett Discworld series.

Favourite day-walk?
The walk to Sgwd Yr Eira Waterfall in South Wales. The footpath goes right behind the waterfall. Waterproofs needed even on a sunny day!

Michael Lee

Manager of YHA Youlgreave

Michael Lee
Michael Lee

Countryside, city or coast?
Are you ever really on holiday unless you’re beside the sea?

Favourite hostel?
I spent a glorious week on the Welsh coast and YHA Pwll Deri was truly spectacular.

Earliest YHA memory?
A visit to the Peaks at 16, braving the pouring rain all day. It clearly didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for hostelling though.

Ideal overseas destination?
New Zealand – it just has everything.

Perfect hostel dinner?
The new chicken pies are amazing. Mmmmmm… pie.

An item to pack?
Pre-empting the next question, a good book.

A book for a rainy day?
Anything Scandinavian with murder in it.

Favourite day-walk?
The walk to Grasmere from Ambleside over Loughrigg Fell. For relatively little effort you get spectacular views of what makes the Lakes great – and gingerbread at the end of it.

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