For the first time since 1790 Keswick enjoyed a fabulous Regatta on Derwent Water, splendidly organised by the National Trust. The hostel took part with a stand at Crow Park. It was a real team effort, with Kathy and Katy coming up with the Georgian theme for the stall. Pez, Katy and Fiona had a mega baking session, creating cakes and cookies to eighteenth century recipes researched by Katy. Ian knocked up an ingenious flat-pack stand on which to mount a replica of Derwent Isle, the site of Pocklington’s first house and follies, and several of the staff took turns to man the stall or hold the fort back at the hostel.
Among the goodies were Georgian gingerbread cookies in the shape of islands, waiting for the decoration skills of children (and a few adults!) attending the Regatta. The standard of artistry and creativity was astounding and we have resolved to make it into a competition next year. We also invited people to draw a folly and place it on the replica island. And for those who weren’t in the creative mood they could buy a cake or cookie to take away with them - Manager Dave was particularly taken with the Rout Cakes which were flavoured with rosewater and caraway seeds!
A TV crew made an appearance whilst Kathy, Dave and Katy were on the stall, filming for a forthcoming series about the National Trust. They stopped by and asked some questions about the hostel and its history, which were knowledgably and confidently dealt with by Katy (whilst the other two sidled out of shot!) It will be aired in the Autumn and we will let you know the exact date as soon as we find out.
There was lots of fun and games on the Lake. There were typical regatta events, such as various yacht, row boat and canoe races, which were stunning to watch as they set off across the sparkling water. There were also less typical craft taking part, such as racing bath-tubs and coracles built on the day, a passenger-carrying pirate ship and a viking ship built by the National Trust and their volunteers - which was set alight on the lake at dusk to spectacular effect! The events drew in in lots of people both participating and spectating and everyone was kept on their toes by the regular firing of a cannon, in the approved Pocklington manner. Our local partners, the National Trust, Platty Plus and Glaramara, all had stalls offering information and activities, and there were also food stalls and a fun-fair. We were very lucky with the weather which stayed fine until we had cleared away - and then the heavens opened!
The Regatta weekend was a great success and we all believe it can be even bigger and better next year. It is great couple of days out for all the family, so put the first weekend of August in your diaries!
Mother and daughter Yvonne and Rhiannon Wickham set out to do the 70 mile Cumbrian Way as a trail-run over 5 days, to raise money for a cause close to their hearts.
Rhiannon,15, told me 'I know a few people with Type One Diabetes, including my Dad, Paul. It is completely unpreventable - it is not about the kind of diet you have or the amount of exercise you do - it just happens. It often affect people as children, although it can equally strike adults - Dad was 39. It affects every day of your life, with injections everyday just to stay alive. I would love for a cure to be found'.
For this reason they wanted to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), an international charity which researches specifically into Type One Diabetes. The whole family is very athletic and are all club runners - Paul has run three marathons, Yvonne is concentrating on competing in a variety of races and Rhiannon is both the Under 16 Lancashire Fell Running Champion and the English Schools Fell Running Champion! Yvonne and Rhiannon knew they wanted to do a long distance route for their challenge - Rhiannon said, 'Mum went crazy and found loads of routes, including the Coast to Coast!' But they settled on the Cumbrian Way as being a manageable route, with Rhiannon and Yvonne doing the running and Paul providing the driving support and dog-sitting duties (and the dog providing company along some of the route!).
The route starts in Ulverston in South West Cumbria and finishes in Carlisle. They are staying at youth hostels wherever they can, with a bit of camping and one night of luxury at a bed and breakfast in Caldbeck. They set off from our hostel on warm, sunny day and were planning to follow the Cumbrian Way to Skiddaw House from Keswick and then over the fells to Caldbeck. The weather has been kind but the heat has meant that it has been difficult to carry enough water with them.
They were initially aiming to raise 400 pounds but are confident that they will exceed that, and plan to do other events in the future to raise even more money for JDRF. The family are certainly an inspiration, and fantastic ambassadors for a very deserving cause.
The National Citizenship Scheme is described on their website as, 'a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity open to all 16 & 17 year olds in England….. (to) take on new challenges and meet new friends.'
One of the organisations delivering the scheme is the Football League, which you may be surprised to know is a charity with a remit to oversee community and youth development activities at Football League clubs. Rotherham United is one of the clubs bringing groups to our hostel for the activities part of the scheme.
I caught up with a few of the young people from the club on the third day of their adventures, to find out more about the scheme and what they had got up to so far. They told me that the scheme takes place over four weeks, involving a week‘s residential doing activities, another week’s residential learning life-skills such as budgeting and first aid, and then two weeks community-based volunteering.
When I met them, the group was buzzing after their day’s hike up Catbells, a first fell for most and no mean feat for people not used to walking. Michael Buchanan told me, 'What made it the best was that everybody cheered each other to the top. I didn’t want to leave - the views were amazing'. Lucy McCaffery commented 'I can’t believe I went all that way – I am so unfit!' She also praised her group for the support they gave her when abseiling, 'I was crying before we started, but everybody was so supportive that I loved it and was up for another go'.
Kara Martin-Walsh was very impressed with the hostel grounds saying, 'It’s a beautiful place - not many places have their own waterfall!' She also had praise for the hostel food, 'I’m gluten-intolerant and it’s really hard at school - I’ve never been offered a proper alternative meal. It’s really nice to be given a choice - going out of the way to make sure I can eat the same meal as everyone else.' And Michael noted, 'We’re treated like adults, not kids. We aren’t regimented but have a choice of all the different areas in the hostel to go to.'
The students loved their activities and appreciated the fact that the same instructor from Glaramara stayed with each group for the entire week’s activities, with Lucy saying 'they are really well-organised and really patient'. Their leader, Cheryl Davidson, from the Football League, was also extremely well-organised, and the students were very well-behaved. Cheryl said that compared to other venues she has taken groups to 'This is more personal and friendly'.
For me the nicest thing about the group’s stay was how well they bonded and supported each other. Kara summed it up when she said, 'We went from being strangers to becoming friends'.
It’s always nice to hear of families who add a little bit of adventure to their hostelling holiday, and Derwentwater Youth Hostel regulars, the Sherburn family from Howden, East Yorkshire are certainly up for that!
A couple of years ago, Colin and eldest son Harry, 17, camped near Styhead Tarn and spent the following day going up Scafell Pike. Last year, youngest son George, 9, and his Dad Colin camped out at Tarn at Leaves, just below Bessyboot, and loved it so much that this year they decided to bring his Mum, Lesley, too. They shared all they needed to carry - tent, sleeping bags, food and drink - between the three of them. Colin also volunteered to carry up the five litres of water that they needed for cooking and hot drinks, in his trusty old-school frame rucksack.
Once they had made camp by the tarn they feasted on a meal of baked beans and then, Lesley says, 'We just took off our boots and climbed into our sleeping bags! It was a lot more comfortable than we thought it would be; the ground was a bit boggy which made it nice and soft to sleep on.'
The thing they noticed was how peaceful and quiet it was and how lovely the fells looked, especially when the sun was going down: 'The amber glow on the top of the fells was beautiful, although fleeting' said Lesley. It was quite chilly once the sun had disappeared, but it was cosy and warm with the three of them in the tent - 'I was sandwiched in the middle!' said George. In the morning, whilst they were packing everything up the sun started to burn through and warmed everything up.
The camping trip was voted a great success as they started their descent to the valley floor and from there walked on to our hostel. They had two nights booked here, with a canoeing trip planned for the next day. They thoroughly recommend a wild camping trip with the family mixed in with a hostel stay - it takes a little planning but it is more than worthwhile.
It will probably come as no surprise that hostel staff love to go walking in their free time. The hostel is perfectly placed for walks of differing levels and for all abilities and every member of staff has their personal favourite.
Ian recommends a tea-shop trail which goes up past our waterfall via Surprise View to Watendlath and the first tea stop. From there it goes over the bridleway to Rosthwaite where there is a choice of watering holes, and then along the river path to Grange where there are two more tea shops. The final tip for refreshment is Shepherd’s 'caff', about a mile or so from the hostel. For a shorter walk there is a path from just after Surprise View straight down to Shepherd’s caff.
Alex loves the higher level challenge of High Raise starting from Stonethwaite and going up over Eagle Crag and Sergeant Crag, two lesser-frequented Wainwrights. The view from High Raise is amazing and looks towards all the major fell groups such as the Langdale Pikes, the Scafells and the Gables.
Pez suggests the walk over Walla Crag to Keswick, starting up the waterfall path behind the hostel to Ashness Bridge. After taking in the shops and refreshments of Keswick, a leisurely walk back along the lakeshore is a very pleasant return route.
Kathy’s favourite is the Newlands’ Round which is a spectacular high level horseshoe walk with views over the Borrowdale, Newlands and Buttermere valleys. The usual route is to go up over Catbells from Skellgill Bank, but Kathy also recommends the little-used path that goes up the beautiful Newlands Valley to Dale Head tarn via the old mining works.
We would love to hear about your favourite walks, and each month will be featuring one of them as 'Walk of the month'. All you need to do is send a brief description of the route, and a photo if possible, to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. So come on, tell us your recommended Lakeland wander!
'Derwentwater Youth Hostel is the perfect expedition base for the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award - it is surrounded by wild country, great camping areas, has challenging weather and fits really well into our plans.'
We love to get feedback about the hostel and gain an understanding of how we can meet the needs of different groups, so it was great to hear from Andy Woolley from Monmouthshire Youth Service who was here for the third year in a row with his DofE students. From small beginnings four years ago with just five students, the DofE scheme in Monmouthshire has grown and grown and this year 79 young people are doing their gold award with 56 of them coming to Derwentwater Youth Hostel for their expedition assessment.
The gold expedition is an unaccompanied four-day hiking and camping challenge. There are about six students in each group and each day they have to walk approximately 15 miles a day carrying everything they will need on their back, including food for four days, camping equipment and spare clothing. It is an extremely arduous challenge and not for the faint-hearted!
The group use the hostel for the pre-expedition check - making sure they have their route cards and all their equipment and that they are up to speed with emergency procedures. The night before they go off into the wild the hostel dining room is strewn with maps, rucksacks and equipment. Terry Smith, one of the team of helpers and volunteers who assist Andy in facilitating the expedition, said 'it is great having all this space to ourselves for the pre-expedition check - we can really spread out.'
Terry and the other two helpers, Matt Jones and Alyn Jones, were also being assessed this trip as they are doing their Supervised Expedition Leader qualification which is recognised by the Mountain Leader Council. They have been supporting the Monmouthshire DofE group for 3 years now, providing transportation and an extra pair of hands for Andy, who is out on the hills keeping an eye on the groups and assessing them out of sight.
It was a fascinating insight into the organisation involved in getting the expedition off the ground and the extent of the challenge faced by the young people taking part. We hope they all found some enjoyment in the expedition itself and a sense of achievement when they completed it - they certainly deserve that Gold Award!
Our hostel is taking part in two weekends of cultural heritage events. The first is on 7 and 8 September and is part of the National Trust’s 'Derwent Water Uncovered' series which retraces the steps of poets, painters, musicians and thinkers by foot and by boat. Matthew Oates, known from his lively broadcasts on BBC Radio 4, will be conducting 'Coleridge and Nature', a walk and talk about Lake Poet Coleridge’s relationship with nature. Places are limited for this event so booking is essential and you are strongly recommended to book early to avoid disappointment. For more information or to book call: 0844 249 1895 or visit the National Trust events page.
Our long-term volunteer, Katy, has put together a circular route which explores three centuries of landscape art in the Borrowdale Valley, starting and finishing at the hostel. The 'Walk of Art' has become one of the Discovering Britain series and Katy has provided an audio commentary so that people can self-guide themselves around the walk and discover and learn more about places of interest, such as the Lodore Falls and the Bowder Stone. However, on 15 and 16 September she will be guiding the walk herself as part of the Heritage Open Days. Places are limited to ten each day, so if you are visiting the hostel that weekend and would like to go on the walk you need to book your place early!
The hostel will also be open for guided tours and Georgian-themed refreshments on Sunday 16 September from 1.30pm. For more information about either of the Heritage Open Day events or to book a place on the walk, contact us here at the hostel.