Entertainment, Hostels, Interviews, Issue 7

Hostellers Q&A

Steve Chapman, Manager at YHA Ravenstor and avid mountain biker

Countryside, city or coast? 

It’s got to be the countryside for me, ideally in amongst the hills or mountains, anywhere with potential adventures on the doorstep. If there’s great weather too, that’s a bonus.

Favourite hostel?

I would have to go for YHA Idwal Cottage, such a cosy and welcoming environment – the perfect place to relax before taking on the challenges of climbing Tryfan and The Glyders.

Earliest YHA memory?

 My father taking myself and a friend to YHA Ystumteun, a remote hostel in the hills above Aberystwyth. The toilets were at the bottom of the garden, and unlit at night!

Ideal overseas destination?

Whistler in Canada, due to its abundant array of insane mountain bike terrain. Find a local to show you around – the Rockwork Orange trail is not to be missed.

Perfect hostel dinner?

 You can’t beat a burger, loaded with bacon and cheese, outside in the evening sunshine with a cold beer and a few friends, sharing stories from a big day out.

An item to pack? 

Gloves, gloves and more gloves! You cannot beat the feeling of putting on a pair of warm, dry gloves. I carry at least one spare set in my bag at all times.

A book for a rainy day?

 Not technically a book, but I love studying maps. Although the rain wouldn’t stop me going out, so I would probably be out on the bike enjoying a soaking. 

Favourite day-walk? 

Wetherlam, Lake District. With its more prestigious cousins attracting more crowds, this is a great fell with loads of nooks and crannies to explore. I seem to end up there every time I’m in the Lakes. 

Charlotte Thompson, Volunteer with Fix The Fells, fixthefells.co.uk 

Countryside, city or coast? 

Countryside and coast are both great for walking and swimming.

Favourite hostel?

YHA Borrowdale. Great walking, plenty of Fix The Fells routes to maintain and good swim spots. Plus my favourite little Wainwright, Castle Crag, is on the doorstep.

Earliest YHA memory?

Staying in YHA Ambleside in my twenties and the air being 60% body-spray from the group of teenagers staying at the same time.

Ideal overseas destination?

I’ve yet to get to New Zealand and Norway but they would be my ideals, for walking, swimming and exploring.

Perfect hostel dinner?

A hearty stew followed by fruit crumble and custard.

An item to pack? 

A bikini and a towel – there are always places to swim.

A book for a rainy day?

My current favourite is Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane.

Favourite day-walk? 

I’ll pick my last route with Fix The Fells which was Mardale Head to Nan Bield and Blea Water then back, with a shovel and some great company.

Mariska Helweg-Larsen, Oxford-based outdoor enthusiast

Countryside, city or coast? 

Having grown up in the Netherlands I have always craved mountains. Now with a little child the coasts are wonderful to explore.

Favourite hostel?

We had an amazing time at YHA Treyarnon Bay on the Cornish coast. We could see glorious golden sunsets over the sea every night out of the dining room windows.

Earliest YHA memory?

The first Youth Hostel I went to was in New York – not strictly YHA. I think the first one in the UK I went to was at Coniston. 

Ideal overseas destination?

We had a fantastic time in Norway a couple of years ago, trekking hut to hut in the mountains while our toddler was still small enough to carry.

Perfect hostel dinner?

Something hearty after a long day out and about.

An item to pack? 

On really remote walks without mobile phone reception and with a child in tow we’ve been taking a PLB (personal locator beacon).

A book for a rainy day?

I don’t usually bring a book with me. I like browsing the magazines and books that are in the hostels and playing games.

Favourite day-walk? 

A good walk to do with kids is one we did at YHA Treyarnon Bay, walking south to Bedruthan Steps. It’s not too steep and the views are great. You can get a bus back.

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