It's taken a while, but we are delighted to announce that the hydro-electric plant, which was damaged by Storm Desmond in December 2015, is fully functional again. In addition to the repairs, we had to update the scheme, to meet Environment Agency requirements, and there have been some improvements to the turbine technology. The turbine has been working really well so far, generating approximately 30% of our electricity.
The dam and intake were repaired over a year ago, but on trying to recommission the turbine we found that a lot of parts had seized up due to inactivity. So we took the decision to commission a major overhaul, carried out by Miles Postlethwaite of Border Hydro, which involved replacing many of the internal moving parts, all of which were re-engineered from scratch by Miles.
Now the hydro is generating up to 5 kilowatts in times of high flow, and still achieving 3 kilowatts in low flow conditions. If it continues at this rate we hope to generate 35,000 kwh in a year, which will be about 30% of the hostel’s electricity consumption: well worth the investment. You can read about the history of the hostel hydro-scheme here:http://www.derwentwater.org/ourhostel/groundsandwaterfall/hydroelectricplant
A local walk suggestion by Tim, hostel manager.
Ullscarf is one of our favourite fells, sitting peacefully in the centre of the Lake District, and there are many ways to approach it. The route described here starts from Watendlath, an ancient farming hamlet 3 miles from the hostel.
Watendlath lies at the end of the road beyond Ashness Bridge and Surprise View, and now has a National Trust car park and toilets, and a cafu00e9 with unpredictable opening hours. It is about a 10 minute drive from the hostel, or a 3.5 mile walk. A circular walk of great interest can be had by climbing the slopes above the Watendlath carpark, as if heading for High Tove, but turning south as the gradient eases and heading across the open fell on a faint path towards Blea Tarn, and eventually to Standing Crag, which looks far bigger than it actually is, standing as it does against the expansive moorland. The photo above shows the view of Blea Tarn from Standing Crag.
Once over Standing Crag it's a gently rising kilometre to the summit of Ullscarf with views of the Helvellyn Range to the east and ever expanding views of the higher Borrowdale fells ahead. Returning via High Saddle and Coldbarrow Fell brings you to Dock Tarn, a small, rarely visited, but delightful spot (there's a photograph of it in the hostel servery), and onwards back to Watendlath.
This is not one of Wainwright's favourite fells, and the less-trodden route is unlikely to be found in ‘highlights of Lake District’ guides, but if you like very quiet places, with a sense of wilderness and having to find your own way, then hopefully you'll enjoy the expansive views and solitude of Ullscarf and Coldbarrow Fell.
We've been very fortunate to have had Neele's help over the past month: another wonderful volunteer! Neele is from Germany, where she is doing teacher training, specialising in English and German, and she decided to spend a month with us in order to improve her English (although it seemed perfect to us!) and have a change of scene before her exams.
Neele smoothed out a lot of the mole hills on the hostel lawn, so if you're playing football in the next few months then hopefully you'll appreciate her work. She also cleaned the front porch windows beautifully, so she's really improved the 'arrival experience'.
Unfortunately we haven't left Neele with such a good legacy, for she spent her last week with a very bad cold. There are lots of good things about living in the Lake District, but unfortunately it doesn't make you immune to colds!
We have two popular souvenirs for sale at the hostel: cuddly red squirrels and the ever-entertaining-and-inspiring Top Wainwright fell-bagging trumps game. Hopefully they'll commemorate enjoyable fell walks, and red squirrels seen in the grounds.
We also have the new 2019 Independent Hostel Guides in stock, and all the left-over 2018 guides going free! There are so many wonderful independent hostels throughout the UK, and the guide provides a page of information per hostel, in addition to location maps.
Aukje is a Scouting Association volunteer and she's forged good connections between the hostel and the local packs. In January both packs of Cubs from 1st Keswick Scouts visited the hostel. Pack A and Pack B made a campfire in our fire pit, roasted marshmallows and tried their hand at fire lighting using flint and steel. They also learnt how to put up a tarp to make a shelter in our grounds, and at the end of the evening everyone had hot chocolate. On the Pack B evening the sky was clear enough to look at the stars and the cubs identified some constellations, working towards their Astronomy badge. We hope to have more sessions in the hostel and grounds for scout groups: better top up the marshmallow stocks!
The wonderful conservation charity, Plantlife, are running a photography competition called LOST (Looking Out for the Small Things): Beatrix Potter's Vision: A Celebration of the Lake District, which closes on 23rd April. They are keen to get more entries, particularly in the People in Woods category and in the Under 18 age groups. The details are attached here. Perhaps you could enter a photo from your stay in Borrowdale - we look forward to hearing how you get on.
Plantlife is a British conservation charity working nationally and internationally to save threatened wild flowers, plants and fungi, and they have been running courses and events in Cumbria to help people learn about different habitats and their flora. Aukje recently attended a course about woodland management, with a focus on protecting lichens, bryophytes and rare species, and she received lots of helpful information about the Borrowdale Atlantic woodland in which the hostel is situated. The Plantlife events are free and several are held in Borrowdale: the next one is at the Bowder Stone on 29th May. The website also has many free resources, for identifying wild plants and much more: Discover Wild Plants.