Unfurl a map of England and Wales, and before you know it your feet start to itch. All those hills, all those valleys, all those coastal paths. It’s no exaggeration to say that the vast majority of our rural hostels – and a fair few of our city properties too – offer top-notch hiking potential, but we shine a spotlight here on nine beauties that sometimes get overlooked.
Smart bolthole in the North East
This stylishly converted barn on the edge of Northumberland National Park might have just 15 beds but it holds big charm for walkers. The self-catering hostel sits on the Pennine Way, two minutes’ stroll from the village centre of Bellingham itself. Like many of the hostels here, it’s available for Exclusive Hire over winter.
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Looking to get away from it all?
One of the oldest hostels in the network, YHA Slaidburn sits in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley, in the often-disregarded Forest of Bowland AONB. There’s far more to this rustic bolthole than its frontage suggests, as shown by an average review rating above 90%. And the clincher? It was once a pub named The Black Bull.
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YHA Wasdale Hall
Historical hostel in the Lakes
Set on the banks of Wastwater, England’s deepest lake, this grand Lake District hostel is one of the most handsome in the network. Expect a half-timbered facade, mullioned windows and a library of Chesterfield sofas. Walkers and climbers, meanwhile, have the myriad outdoor delights of Wasdale on their doorstep.
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The perfect base in the Peak
The Peak District village of Hathersage has long been a magnet for outdoor-lovers – partly because Stanage Edge is close by – and this 42-bed hostel makes for a fine overnight base. The Derwent Valley Heritage Way passes close by, while the 5.5-mile Jane Eyre Hathersage Trail offers a good day-walk for Charlotte Brontë fans.
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YHA Brecon Beacons
Well placed for Welsh walks
This whitewashed 19th-century farmhouse grants access to some of the best walking trails in the Brecons, with Pen y Fan, the highest point in the National Park, being almost slap-bang in front of the hostel. It has 41 beds as well as Landpods and camping pitches, not to mention an open fire, perfect for warming up after an autumn hike.
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Old meets new in the North
British history and the modern day intertwine at this 300-year-old stone cottage, which a few years ago became our first hostel to install electric car charging points. A location close to Hadrian’s Wall and a backdrop of rolling Northumberland countryside make it a plum choice not only for walkers and history nuts, but stargazers too.
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YHA Wilderhope Manor
Regal refuge in the countryside
This Grade I-listed manor house dates back to the Elizabethan era, and there are times when the rolling hills of the surrounding Shropshire countryside seem no less rooted in the past. The walking’s great, but this unique hostel isn’t just for muddy-booted hikers – it even has its own Bridal Suite, complete with four-poster bed.
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Coastal hostel in the West Country
A cracking good hostel minutes away from the South Devon seaside, this pretty Arts-and-Crafts property gives easy access to the South West Coast Path and the scenic might of the Jurassic Coast. It’s in the fishing village of Beer, and as with almost all the properties in this feature, also offers options for Exclusive Hire.
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A top stop-off on a National Trail
The Cleveland Way reached 50 years old this year, and this one-time Yorkshire linen mill sits just minutes away from the route of the National Trail. Expect 14 bedrooms – all en suite, don’t you know – a TV lounge, a pool table and camping facilities. What’s more, it counts the North York Moors National Park as its next door neighbour.
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