Where there are glorious hiking routes, there are YHA hostels. No less than 16 National Trails wind across England and Wales, each of them waymarked, maintained, and leading through some of the UK’s most spectacular landscapes. Here are some of our favourite properties on, or close to, the National Trails themselves.
YHA Clun Mill
Restored watermill near the Offa’s Dyke Path
This atmospheric hostel retains much of its original charm as a watermill in the tiny Shropshire village of Clun: expect solid masonry, exposed beams and timber floors. It’s located around three miles from the epic Offa’s Dyke Path, a National Trail which extends 177 miles across England and Wales, roughly following the course of the vast eighth-century earthwork constructed under King Offa.
Stay: YHA Clun Mill
Charming Wensleydale hostel on the Pennine Way
When it opened in 1965, the Pennine Way was the original National Trail. It was the idea of journalist Tom Stephenson, who was inspired by long-distance trails in the USA and kickstarted the UK National Trail movement. The path is 268 miles long and threads from Edale in the Peak District to the Scottish Borders. Other hostels along the route include YHA Edale Activity Centre, YHA Mankinholes, YHA Malham and YHA Dufton.
Stay: YHA Hawes
Atmospheric hostel at one end of the Cotswold Way
This striking youth hostel in the Italianate style is befitting of Bath, one of the loveliest cities in England. As well as offering great views over the skyline, it’s the perfect spot to recuperate after walking the Cotswold Way, a surprisingly hilly 102-mile trail from Chipping Campden to Bath. It’s a route that passes over the Cotswold Hills and through classic villages.
Stay: YHA Bath
Hostel highlight along the Southwest Coast Path
The Southwest Coast Path is the longest National Trail (until the England Coast Path is complete), winding a whopping 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset, having traced the north and south coasts of Devon and the entirety of the Cornish shoreline. Cornwall’s YHA Coverack, with panoramic sea views, is one of 11 YHA hostels along the route.
Stay: YHA Coverack
YHA London Thameside
Capital accommodation on the Thames Path
The Thames Path National Trail follows the river from near its source, at Kemble in Gloucestershire, for 185 miles to the Thames Flood Barrier at Woolwich, in South East London. YHA London Thameside is in Rotherhithe, a couple of miles from the end of the trail. At the beginning of the route, meanwhile, you’ll find YHA Cotswolds just four miles from the trailhead.
Stay: YHA London Thameside
YHA Truleigh Hill
Lofty hostel along the South Downs Way
The South Downs Way between Winchester and Eastbourne follows old drovers’ routes across the chalk South Downs and, with them, some of the most picturesque scenery in England. Truleigh Hill is the highest point on the South Downs (at an admittedly lowly 216 metres) but still provides expansive views over the rolling Sussex farmland to the sea.
Stay: YHA Truleigh Hill
YHA The Sill at Hadrian’s Wall
History–rich Northumberland bolthole
The coast-to-coast Hadrian’s Wall Path follows in the sandalled footsteps of Romans as it traces the remains of the famous fortification from Wallsend in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west. Part way along, YHA The Sill at Hadrian’s Wall is an innovative hostel with a landscape discovery centre that explains the human and natural history of the region.
A delightful hostel on the Norfolk coast
The Peddars Way (49 miles) and the Norfolk Coast Path (84 miles) are two routes that connect to make one National Trail that takes in the best of Norfolk. On the coastal stretch, Wells-next-the-Sea is a pretty fishing town that’s the perfect base for exploring the long sandy beaches and salt marshes. Also along the trail are YHA Sheringham and YHA Hunstanton.
Stay: YHA Wells-next-the-Sea
Hikers’ hostel on the Cleveland Way
The Cleveland Way is a 109-mile route that skirts the North York Moors National Park before heading down the coast, taking in the high moors and some of the country’s most dramatic sea cliffs. YHA Whitby, YHA Boggle Hole and YHA Helmsley are all along the trail, along with YHA Osmotherley, a charming converted linen mill near Northallerton.
Stay: YHA Osmotherley
Read next: Feeling inspired? View our guide on how to plan your first long-distance hike.