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Discussion Forum - LDWA ideas forum - YHA Closures


Posted: Sat 28th Apr 2007, 19:30
http://www.thebackpacker.net/

YHA may be moribund according to the criticisms of other
unnamed national associations. I don't think it is, but backpackers does fill a very useful gap and charges less for fewer facilities and closer bunking.

If you follow the link above and surf alittle you may get some pleasant surprises. YHA has always had independents in the fold but now those independents have taken on a new antipodean name for a different kind of clientele.
Posted: Tue 24th Apr 2007, 9:35
Backpackers are great for the young adult and
work according to the demands of the market place.

YH is excellent for school parties, and it IS sad that
the demands of that market place in which Backpackers'
also compete, should be causing the closure of
some of the outlets of such a hallowed organisation.

If there IS a niche, private enterprise will
certainly exploit it, if local authority
plans allow it, and even if they do not.
Posted: Wed 21st Mar 2007, 19:37
Joined: 1982
The whole point of YHA or simular (was)is that people travel light and have no fear of having to turn up for meals at X time dressed to the nines, the crack was walking, cycling, climbing and the routes they used. This saved me a long awkward route more than once. You do not get that in most B & Bs. It seems that the fur coats and no knickers brigade have got hold of the Y H A.
David H
Author: Sue Allonby
Posted: Wed 21st Mar 2007, 8:33
Joined: 2003
Hostels in walking areas, on long-distance paths or cycle routes will always be in demand by walkers & cyclists, but it seems that the YHA is now more interested in targeting families looking for private rooms, city visitors etc. Apparently, there are also issues of big debts, so the closures represent cost-cutting. Of course, walkers & cyclists can also use B&B, but if I'm doing an LDP by myself, for example, I've always preferred a hostel (where you're likely to meet other walkers, have room to spread your maps out, get your wet kit dry etc.)
Posted: Tue 20th Mar 2007, 22:16
Joined: 1982
But why are so many of the hostels that are closing as YHA are re-opening as independants ie Greenhead, Alston are two that I know of and there will be others.
David H
Author: Giselle Anne Dudley
Posted: Tue 20th Mar 2007, 19:49
Joined: 1997
Local Group: North Yorkshire
Thanks Sue for putting so much detail into an email and drawing everybodys attention to the YHA closures. I have been a member for years - however over the past few years the standards have slipped and the type of person being catered for is now not what it used to be. I have not renewed my membership but have opted to go with the SYHA. The English YHA seem to be more interested in hostels in cities than those on Long Distance Paths. I have stayed at a few independent hostels over the last year and have found them too be much better and very reasonably priced e.g Ambleside, Bellingham.
Author: Tony Willey
Posted: Wed 7th Mar 2007, 15:29
Joined: 1989
Local Group: Lakeland
Skiddaw House is now open as a bunkhouse, website is www.skiddawhouse.co.uk.
Author: Sue Allonby
Posted: Mon 5th Feb 2007, 16:18
Joined: 2003
The Skiddaw House bunkhouse is to be welcomed. It isn't a 'new' hostel, but a new variant on Skiddaw House, which sadly closed a few years ago, despite all the work done by 'Friends of Skiddaw House'.
I, like many others, though, have resigned from YHA and joined Scottish Youth Hostels, instead (cheaper then YHA, and still allowing access to all hostels at members' rates).
Author: John Williams
Posted: Mon 5th Feb 2007, 12:27
Joined: 1984
Local Group: The Irregulars
The new politically correct policy of the YHA will inevitably lead to the loss of many of us who have been members for many years.Many of the hostels on the new hit list are ones used by walkers which is a great shame.I use hostels fairly regularly as overnight accomodation before events and find that the majority of people staying there are past the first flush of youth.A more appropriate policy would be to drop the "Y" from the title and encourage all people irrespective of age or background to stay there.
Posted: Fri 15th Dec 2006, 21:50
Joined: 1982
In general any new hostel opening is a good idea but is one in so sensitive an area as the Back O Skiddaw a good idea? when the likes of the Pennine Way are now virtually out of bounds to the traditional hostler. It would have been better to see Bellingham, Baldersdale or Keld re-open. Though I have heard that Greenhead may open as an independant hostel (I have not seen this confirmed on paper)If this is right it will be good news.
David H
Author: Tony Willey
Posted: Thu 14th Dec 2006, 19:02
Joined: 1989
Local Group: Lakeland
One bit of good news. Skiddaw House is due to reopen as a bunkhouse affiliated to the YHA in spring 2007 with 20 beds although I believe they may be able to accommodate groups before then. No mobile signal up there but Martin & Marie-Pierre can be contacted at skiddawhouse@yahoo.co.uk.
Address is:-
Skiddaw House Foundation
Bassenthwaite
Keswick
Cumbria
CA12 4QX
Posted: Thu 17th Aug 2006, 14:58
Joined: 1982
Too late to save either Greenhead or Alston hostels both important stops on the Pennine Way and one on the Roman Wall trail. Both are now in the hands of the estate agents and will no doubt go to a developer for 2nd homes.
David H
Author: Sue Allonby
Posted: Thu 17th Aug 2006, 11:21
Joined: 2003
For anyone who uses youth hostels as a walker or cyclist, and is concerned by closures etc., it's worth checking out the website at http://www.whyha.org.uk/ which has beeb set up by disillusioned YHA members. In particular, it encourages writing to the Charities Commission with concerns.
Posted: Thu 6th Jul 2006, 5:45
Joined: 1982
The Article in this months "Cumbria" by Bob Orrell puts the problems of the Y H A bang to rights and in a way points to future problems with the L D W A. The last time I was in one of the hostels due to close, it was full of teachers knocking back the booze twenty to the dozen. This maybe acceptable in a third rate hotel but is it the way for the Y H A and is it the reason that so many have stopped useing the hostels?.
Author: Sue Allonby
Posted: Mon 19th Jun 2006, 10:44
Joined: 2003
Further to my original post about hostel closures, the group trying to save the Elenydd hostels have now set p a website at http://www.elenydd-hostels.co.uk/english/member.html
Author: Philip Powell
Posted: Thu 27th Apr 2006, 17:55
Joined: 1981
Local Group: Northumbria
Sounds like Club 18 to 30!
Author: Tony Willey
Posted: Wed 26th Apr 2006, 16:53
Joined: 1989
Local Group: Lakeland
I have received a reply to my letter from Roger Clarke, the YHA Chief Executive. In it he makes the same point that was in the YHA reply to Sue, that the YHA "has agreed a new direction for the next ten years. We will do more for young people, especially those who are disadvantaged, to expand their horizons through the experience of travel, through 'stepping stones to independence' from their earliest years to adulthood." He uses the word 'travel' again in expanding on this theme, no mention of walking or other outdoor activities. The thinking behind the closure programme comes in the next paragraphs:- "We will concentrate our resources on good quality products in popular places, developing 'great hostels in core locations' in locations where young people want to go and where we can fulfil our charitable object. Key to this is realigning the hostel network with market and locational priorities, renewing hostels in core locations, and withdrawing from loss-making or marginal operations. The proceeds of sales will be reinvested, putting our limited capital resources where they can do most good, so that we have 'great hostels in great locations' for the future." So far as hostels in more remote areas are concerned, he is anything but encouraging:- "Countryside hostels will remain an important part of YHA. We will seek to forge new partnerships with other accommodation providers along long distance trails through the YHA Enterprise scheme, in particular to maintain the chain along the Pennine Way. This approach has already been successful along the Offa's Dyke. However a National Trail or long distance route is not in itself sufficient to sustain a viable Youth Hostel."
Author: Sue Allonby
Posted: Wed 26th Apr 2006, 13:29
Joined: 2003
David, you're absolutely right about this last point. Also, I've had a reply from YHA in response to an earlier letter about the latest closures, in which they say that they have a new strategy of targetting disadvantaged young people. I certainly wouldn't disagree with this policy, but it doesn't seem as though they're interested in these youngsters being able to hostel some of our LDP's, e.g. the Pennine Way, looking at where the closures are. They say they're now focussing upon hostels in 'popular locations'.
In reply to Tony's earlier comment, I hope I'm not just 'wishing for a world as it used to be', but for one in which I and others can continue to enjoy hostelling LDPs etc. For anyone interested there is a group trying to save the 3 simple hostels in the mid-Wales.
Posted: Mon 24th Apr 2006, 23:42
Joined: 1982
One of the reasons for the hostels getting in to difficultys is that that those in high places in the movement are not looking at the needs of those that use the hostels. To use Foot and Mouth as an excuse for closing hostels is not real and this is demonstrated by the popularity of bunk barns and private hostels. Last year in Scotland I tried to book in to a hostel by phone and was told that they were full, later that week a Warden in another hostel checked up on the dates and found that there were bed spaces for the night that I was refused. His assumption was that some hostel wardens now see them selves as managers and prefer block bookings. If this is the case is there any wonder the organisation is in trouble.
David H
Posted: Mon 24th Apr 2006, 17:17
Joined: 2002
I always find it very time consuming and frustrating to book Youth Hostels. Numerous phone calls and then in some cases having to send a letter and cheque. I recently booked a total of five nights in three YH in Scotland, I had checked availability, booked and paid within 10 mins. Maybe people are booking B&B because of this so that they are sure of a place somewhere. B&Bs generally don't get up early for breakfast, let you make your butties and your flask and have you on the hills for 7.30am. Maybe business would improve if there were an easier way to book all the hostels.
Author: Tony Willey
Posted: Wed 5th Apr 2006, 21:10
Joined: 1989
Local Group: Lakeland
I have written to the YHA on behalf of the association and will post any reply I receive. On a personal level I am a YHA member but have virtually given up using the network. Hostels I try to book are often fully booked (by groups no doubt). Costs are rapidly approaching those of bottom end B & B's. My last independent booking was at Linton on an Exmoor 100 recce. I was the youngest there, the rest were aged tourists using it as a cheap B & B. Other hostels in the area were fully booked - in mid week in April!
I do have some sympathy with the YHA, trying to keep the organisation afloat after the massive losses in the foot & mouth period. Much of the criticism seems to come from those who would like the world to be as it used to be or how they would wish it to be, not how it is. If there is a market out there for hostel type accommodation for solo travellers in country areas, then I suspect that it will be provided in the longer term by independents. They don't have the burdensome overhead structure of the YHA, and these days the internet provides a relatively low cost way of marketing themselves.
Posted: Sun 26th Mar 2006, 22:09
Joined: 1982
What is the Y H A going to gain from these closures?. loss of membership certainly, loss of revenue yes and loss of the future need of Y H A hostels probably. I understood that the prinicipal of the Y H A was to provide simple shelter in the Countryside for young people and that popular hostels backed up the less popular. The people running the movement seem to have lost touch with this. Maybe they should look at what is happening in places where they close hostels and see that private hostels take over on some of the original principals of the hostels i.e cheap easy going places to rest your head for the night with out a lot of fancy frills or regulations. The private hostels also seem to be able to make a profit and are still £ for £ as cheap or cheaper than the Y H A.
David H
Author: Julie Welch
Posted: Sat 25th Mar 2006, 21:38
Joined: 1996
Local Group: London
The issue was duly raised at the National Committee meeting today, and a letter is going to be written to the YHA on behalf of members regretting the proposed closure of hostels that are important to our membership.
Author: Julie Welch
Posted: Tue 21st Mar 2006, 20:54
Joined: 1996
Local Group: London
Sue, I copied your post to John Stewart, the Environment committee person and, time permitting, he intends to raise the issue at the National Committee meeting this weekend.
Author: Sue Allonby
Posted: Tue 21st Mar 2006, 11:57
Joined: 2003
I expect most members are now aware of proposed YHA closures. It does seem that they are turning their backs on 'traditional' hostel users, i.e. walkers and cyclists. I wondered whether LDWA was responding as an organisation to these closures? Wouldn't it be good if various organisations (e.g. LDWA, CTC and the PWA for example) could make their feelings known collectively. The success of independent 'non-tourist honeypot' hostels shows that they don't need to make big losses. Before lovely hostels such as Keld disappear for ever, perhaps it's time to think how to save them. In case anyone isn't aware, the following closures are proposed:
the YHA are intending to start to close these later this year, but the closures will be spread over a longer period, so there may be more chance of saving some of them.

The following will be closed with no replacement.
1. Ivinghoe in the Chilterns and on the Ridgeway National Trail
2. Blackboys in the Sussex Weald on the Weald Way path.
3. Castle Hedingham in Essex.
4. Steps Bridge in the Teign Gorge near Exeter and Dartmoor.
5. Dartington near Totnes on the River Dart near Dartmoor and the South Devon Coastpath.
6. Quantock Hills near Holford in Somerset.
7. Elmscott near Hartland and Clovelly on the North Devon Coastpath.
8. Capel-y-Ffin in the Brecon Beacons on Offas Dyke and the Cambrian Way.
9. Trefin on the Pembrokeshire Coastpath.
10. Dolgoch in the remote Welsh Tywi Valley.
11. Tyncornel in the remote Welsh Elenydd.
12. Llangollen in the Clwydian Hills & Dee Valley; one of YHA's flagship activity centres till just a couple of years ago.
13. Meerbrook in the Peak District near the Roaches rocks and Staffordshire Moorlands.
14. Langsett near Sheffield on the newly-opened Trans-Pennine Trail.
15. Earby between the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland on the Pennine Way and Pendle Way.
16. Stainforth in the Yorkshire Dales on the Pennine Way and Three Peaks Challenge Walk.
17. Keld in Swaledale at the junction of the Pennine Way with the
Coast-to-Coast Path and Herriot Way.
18. Kirkby Stephen in the Eden Valley on the Coast-to-Coast Path.
19. Alston in the North Pennines and South Tyne Valley on the Pennine Wayand Coast-to-Coast Cycle Route.
20. Greenhead on Hadrians Wall and the Pennine Way.
21. Acomb near Hexham on Hadrians Wall between Northumberland and the North Pennines.
22. Bellingham near Kielder Water in Northumberland on the Pennine Way.
23. Wooler in the Cheviot Hills on St Cuthberts Way and the Ravenber Path.
The following will be closed but YHA will see if it's possible to open
another hostel in the area after they've closed:
24. Dover in Kent on the North Downs Way.
25. Hastings (Guestling) on the Sussex Coast.
26. Brighton (Patcham) on the South Downs Way.
27. Sandown on the Isle of Wight.
28. Lynton in Exmoor on the North Devon Coastpath and Two Moors Way.
29. Matlock in the Peak District.
30. Bakewell in the Peak District.
The following will be closed if YHA can open another hostel in the area:
31. Liverpool, only opened a few years ago.
32. Rotherhithe, opened a few years ago as a flagship hostel.
There are various ideas of how to respond on the CTC forum at http://www.ctcforum.org.uk/MesReplist.aspx?bcid=4&id=22720

Sue Allonby

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