In this newsletter we've looked back on 2014 and brought you news of more hostel volunteers, Dave and his flaming Christmas puddings, and some Lads and Dads on their trip away. We're also wondering if any of your New Year's Resolutions might include doing more running or taking up a new pastime like Morris Dancing... Whatever your resolutions, we hope your plans for 2015 might include a visit to Derwentwater. A very Happy New Year to you all.
Here at the hostel we’ve had some quieter December days, catching up on jobs, with some time to reflect on 2014. We’ve had a busy and successful year and would like to say a big thank you to all our guests – those who’ve visited for the first time in 2014 and to our many loyal and returning guests, who have become friends over the years.
2014 saw the hostel host a record number of weddings – 6 in total between March and late August. Barrow House was built with entertaining in mind and seems to suit large family gatherings. The wedding parties have all been very different but they were all incredibly happy events and we felt privileged to be the chosen venue and share in the celebrations. It might be timely to mention we have been the venue for a baby naming celebration! Or if anyone has a special anniversary in 2015 or just wants to get family and friends together, please get in touch.
As a charity, we have a particular focus on providing opportunities for children and young people to enjoy the Lake District and 2014 saw a few more firsts for the hostel. In May 30 pupils from Ridgewood Academy (Doncaster) enjoyed a 3 day English Language and Literature themed residential, the first 360 Education + Adventure programme planned and delivered by our Education Officer Katy Moore, and with grants from several local trusts we were able to create a fund for subsidising residential visits for school groups from the Cumbrian districts of Allerdale and Copeland. During the year we’ve met pupils visiting the Lakes to study a range of subjects from chemical processes to astronomy and geology, as well as many at the start of their Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions or having full programmes of outdoor activities and team building.
Another first was the large ‘Spooky Weekend’ November event organised by Penrith & District Scouts – about 160 beavers, cubs and scouts stayed over the weekend, enjoying a full programme of events at Honister Mine and the Hostel. Whilst a lot of our groups are children and young people, there is no age limit and we were pleased to have our first U3A (University of the Third Age) group from Stafford to stay in September.
It’s fantastic to look back on so many great memories of a huge range of hostel guests, from families and overseas backpackers visiting the Lake District for the first time, to a corporate event for Blacks, familiar faces such as the Dot Crotchets female choir, and numerous returning school groups.
Thank you all for supporting the hostel and we hope you have good memories too. A very Happy New Year from all of us.
Regular readers will know we really appreciate volunteers. We were lucky enough to have both Anastasia from Australia and Angela from East Anglia to help in November and December. After graduating in May, Anastasia travelled extensively in Europe where she particularly enjoyed visiting Bosnia, Slovenia and Montenegro and visiting her father’s family in Greece. We weren’t sure how an Australian would cope with commuting to work by bike in November and December, but she took it all in her stride and the day she cycled to work in a snow shower with large snowflakes falling she had an even larger smile than usual. In her free time, Anastasia enjoyed several local fell walks including an ascent of snow covered Skiddaw.
Angela is taking a break from full time work to volunteer, and she gave us this account of her stay at Barrow House. 'During December the hostel was mostly closed during the week which gave us the time and space to deep clean ...everything. It was a marathon of a task, however it proved to be a great way of discovering all the historical secrets and period features as we dusted the fantastic fireplaces, examined the vast tall ceilings and cornices and polished the pictures and maps. Daydreaming was unavoidable after several hours of intense dusting. It was easy to imagine grand ladies in ball gowns gliding around the vast elegant expanse of Room 1, despite it now being a 22 bed dormitory. Barrow House is such a beautiful building it was lovely to be able to take the time to help revive and restore it, ready to welcome in another year of vibrant visitors.
My best memories are the warm welcome and atmosphere created by the staff, the amazing ever-changing views of Derwentwater from the majestic bay windows - which made the mammoth job of cleaning them a pleasure - and the legendary 'Barrow House Chocolate Oatcake' (it is dangerously addictive!). I'm also now a 'bird watching beginner' having identified my first 'Nuthatch' whilst polishing the indoor birdhide'.
It’s been a real pleasure having Anastasia and Angela helping at the hostel and we wish them well with their future travels, studies, and work.
Here at the hostel the countdown to Christmas really gathered momentum in the first week of December, with the visit of the South Lakes Escape Group for Christmas dinner. If you’re intrigued by their name, so were we, so we asked Derek Walmsley, one of their founding members to fill us in on the history of the group. They are in fact a walking group which formed in 1987 as the South Lakes Local YHA Group and then changed their name in 1993. They ‘escape’ in their free time to a variety of different walks and have an active programme of Sunday walks mainly in the Lakes but also the Dales, meeting at Ulverston Railway Station, and with some weekends away during the year. Their members are based in Barrow, Ulverston, Kendal and Windermere and as well as meeting up for a range of low and high level walks together, they also have a programme of slide shows and a weekly evening walk in the summer months. They plan their programmes very democratically with suggestions from all the members. Committee meetings are only held once in a blue moon! South Lakes Escape members are a friendly bunch and if you are interested in joining them just email email@example.com for details of their outings.
Our two volunteers, Anastasia and Angela, decked the hostel halls with boughs of holly (and dining room and lounges) and 15 members of the walking club sat down to a traditional, home-made Christmas dinner with all the trimmings or Mushroom, Aubergine and Red Wine Moussaka. Dave got to do his party piece of flaming the Christmas Pudding with the help of a very generous amount of brandy!
Derek has kindly provided a reference for anyone who is thinking of organising a special get together at our hostel: 'I highly recommend Derwentwater Hostel - very comfortable in a stunning but very accessible location overlooking Derwentwater - and its own 100 foot high waterfall at the back. We were made to feel very welcome and, after an excellent Christmas meal (with my own gluten-free diet well catered for) we retired to the warm, inviting lounge for our games and quizzes by the fire. With the huge variety of excellent walks to suit all abilities and weather in some of the best scenery the Lake District has to offer, plus its handiness for Keswick, it’s difficult to think of any better place to stay'.
2014 has seen Ian and Emily of High Terrain Events organise 3 Trail Running Weekends based at the hostel. We’ve particularly enjoyed their visits because trail runners seem to be very relaxed and easy going people. Ian also seems to have the knack of mainly booking good weather - its hard to believe that the photo above was taken on 23rd November!
High Terrain has a fantastic selection of photos from the weekend – there are some really stunning ones and the ones running through the boggy ground from High Seat to High Tove at the back of the hostel won’t fail to make you smile! The weekends have attracted a range of runners and it’s great to see the strong camaraderie amongst them. You can see full details and reports about these trail running weekends on the High Terrain website http://www.highterrainevents.
They will be back here on 6-8 March 2015. If your New Year resolution is to improve your running technique, we can highly recommend you book a place.
We hope you will enjoy reading this article, written by Jake Bell.
'My name is Jake Bell, I am 9 yrs old and have been coming to stay at the Derwentwater Hostel since I was 3 yrs old. We now visit 2 or 3 times a year with my brothers Freddie age 7 and Toby age 4. This is quite often with friends or with our Mummy at Christmas, so we can all see Santa on the boat.
Kathy has asked me to answer the following questions:
1. What did you think of ‘Peter Pan’?
2. What’s the favourite thing that Jake, Freddie & Toby remember from the times you’ve stayed at the hostel with your friends? What have you enjoyed the most?
3. What mountains have you climbed so far in the Lake District?
4. Your Dad has organised lots of trips away with other Dads. Can you ask him if he’d recommend this to other Dads and families and why?
1. I really enjoyed watching the part [in Peter Pan] when Captain Hook put poison into Peter’s drink. My youngest brother enjoyed shouting 'I believe in fairies' and Freddie loved the chocolate ice cream.
2. When we stay in summer and spring at the Hostel we enjoy doing lots of things such as climbing mountains, swimming and jumping off the jetty, as well as playing rugby on the grass. The favourite thing we like to do is walk up the waterfall path to Surprise View and look across the lake. We also love the food, watching the red squirrel through the window when we have our breakfast, and best of all playing table tennis.
3. The mountains that we’ve climbed are Dock Tarn, Catbells and Castle Crag. We have also walked up to Watendlath. As me and my brothers get bigger we hope to go up Scafell.
4. My Dad says he loves coming to the hostel as it is in his favourite place in the world and mine also. He thinks the food is great, the staff are super friendly and the Hostel is fab for us boys to explore. He would recommend it to other fathers, as in the evening you can have a beer and watch us play rugby on the field in front of the house. We are pestering him to sort out a date to come back at Easter with our friends, in the picture above.'
Thank you very much Jake for writing this article during your Christmas holidays. We hope to see you all again in the Easter holidays.
PS. Mums and Lasses are very welcome too of course!
One of our guests, Andrea Shaftoe, stayed at the hostel in the Autumn, specifically to take part in the Morris Federation Day of Dance, which this year was held in Keswick. We don’t get many Morris (or Molly) Dancers staying with us, so we asked if she could write a few words to tell us about her visit and her troupe.
'Having woken refreshed from a grand night’s stay at Derwentwater Independent Hostel, I headed off on the local bus for a day of dance in Keswick. This event, hosted by the local Morris side Belfagan, was arranged to coincide with the Morris Federation AGM. My side, Hornbeam Molly, was one of 30 sides invited to perform and entertain the residents and visitors of the town at various locations throughout the day. Established in 2009, our name is taken from the hornbeam trees at Hornbeam Park in Harrogate, giving us both a local connection and our team colours. Our various shades of green and brown were chosen to reflect the colours of the hornbeam tree.
This superbly organised day allowed us to dance alongside old friends and new from all over the country, with the beautiful backdrop of the hills, lake and town. To keep us going, there was an endless supply of cakes and tea, organised and served by the local side. At the end of the day I retired back to the comfort of the Hostel to ready myself for a day in the hills the following day'.