Interviews, Issue 2

Stepping Out: Hostellers’ Q&A

Alec Burslem - Hosteller Q&A

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

Daniel Graham

Team member at YHA Danywenallt and author of A Walk to the Water: Six Million Steps to the Mediterranean Sea

Mountain, city or coast?
A combination of mountain and coast. I love the ruggedness of the west coast of the British Isles, where storm cliffs and ocean combine.

Favourite YHA hostel:

YHA Tanners Hatch – My brother and I camped in its beautiful gardens two years ago whilst on a long-distance walk through Western Europe (recounted in A Walk to the Water).

Earliest YHA memory:
For my seventeenth birthday, my dad paid for me and my friends to stay at YHA Swanage. We spent the weekend biking the coast and playing football on the beach.

Ideal dorm mate:
Someone who talks passionately about a landscape that has inspired them, that way I can drift off to sleep living vicariously through their adventures.

Perfect hostel dinner:
Tomato and basil soup, lasagne and chocolate cake, along with a pint of local ale.

An item to pack:
A note pad – it provides the perfect means for reflecting upon a day outdoors, an activity all the more warming in the presence of the log fire.

A book for a rainy day:
Something that inspires me to forget the weather and get outside regardless: Nicholas Crane’s Clear Waters Rising, or A Sense of the Morning by David Brendan Hopes.

Favourite day-walk:
I recently hiked through the Valley of Rocks, a section of the South West Coast Path running along the northern cliffs of Exmoor National Park. It was a beautiful day-walk.

Book your stay at YHA Brecon Beacons Danywenallt here.

Jane Llewelyn

“Part-time walker” and accountant for Large Outdoors

Mountain, city or coast?
It’s got to be coast. I just love the feeling of openness, along with the sound of waves.

Favourite YHA hostel:
YHA Coniston Coppermines. It has a great rustic charm – I love the views and the lounge with the fire place. I’ve stayed here with Large Outdoors during the winter when it has a real cosy feel to it.

Earliest YHA memory:
My first ever hostel experience was at YHA Rowen in Snowdon – to date, still one of my favourites with great views and some real charms.

Ideal dorm mate:
I love a good laugh and a nice glass of vino of an evening, so someone I can spend time with laughing and joking about our adventures.

Perfect hostel dinner:
A proper home-made soup with chunky veg and some great bread, followed by cottage pie. And there can only be one pudding – apple crumble and custard. All topped off with a nice bottle of red.

An item to pack:
Warm socks. I love getting my walking boots off and popping on a lovely pair of thick socks. I never forget my ear plugs either.

A book for a rainy day:
I’m all about Game of Thrones at the moment, so I would have to say settling down with that in front of the fire.

Favourite day-walk:
Walking along the North York Moors Coastline, either from Whitby to Boggle Hole or heading north to Staithes. Great views and lovely wildlife, plus Staithes has some lovely pubs.

Alec Burslem

Recently cycled the South Coast of England

Mountain, city or coast?
Mountains. Definitely.

Favourite YHA hostel:
YHA Snowdon Pen y Pass; it has the Horseshoe walk and some of the best bouldering in the country right there on its doorstep.

Earliest YHA memory:

‘Character-building’ school trips to Snowdonia. Lots of fun but always seemed to involve getting much colder and wetter than was remotely necessary.

Ideal dorm mate:
Someone who knows a climbing/swimming/surfing spot that’s not in the guidebooks.

Perfect hostel dinner:
Spag bol. Loads of it.

An item to pack:
A percolator, you can’t beat a proper coffee out in the wild.

A book for a rainy day:
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell never stops being wonderful.

Favourite day-walk:
Tryfan, straight up the North Buttress. Some really hairy scrambling, rewarded with an absolutely stunning exposed summit and an easy descent in front of Glyder Fawr. Perfection.

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