February 2014

The Lake District: 'Heaven on Earth'
In February, Encompass Trust brought young people from all over the world for a challenging 'Journey of Understanding' at Derwentwater. One of the leaders has written a report of their stay. Read more...

Having fallen in love with the idyllic Derwentwater Independent Hostel back in November 2013, we returned again to this wonderful hostel and beautiful landscape, to run our most recent Encompass Trust ‘Journey of Understanding’ in February 2014.

The ‘Journey of Understanding’ is a 10-day residential programme which takes place in the UK. Each programme involves 24 young people, from a mix of backgrounds, faiths and cultures, drawn from America, Indonesia, Israel, Palestine, and the UK. Their perceptions of the world and each other are highly polarized through religious and social tradition and conflict. During the 'Journey of Understanding' young people join together and build bonds through challenging outdoor adventure activities, and a complementary programme of professionally-facilitated discussion workshops and skills sessions.

During the course of the programme participants are encouraged to confront stereotypes, develop the confidence to interact with those from other backgrounds, and they learn the skills which will enable them to promote intercultural understanding when their journey ends. Once they return home, they use their new-found skills to develop community projects which foster the same spirit of understanding which they themselves have learned through their encounter with Encompass. The journey goers will be meeting on Monday 3rd March for their first post Journey planning ahead session and it looks like we have a lot to look forward too!

DIH has been the perfect oasis to hold our programmes. From the substantial dorms, spacious workshop and dining areas to the ‘chill-out’ rooms, the hostel really ticked all our boxes. The breath-taking beauty of the Lake District is a wonder for all, but for Mohammad, from Palestine, it was even more! 'You didn’t tell me this was heaven on earth', he exclaimed as he burst into the room, having visited the ‘Surprise View’.

Participants were in awe of the period hostel, with its breath-taking ceilings, lovely staff and good hearty home cooked meals. There were smiles all around. Thank you all at DIH and we can’t wait to visit again! If you’d like to read more about Encompass, have a look at their blog:

Thanks to Sahdia, one of the Encompass Staff for this article.  We are delighted to be the venue for Encompass’s inspirational programme.

Family activity breaks in 2014
We hope you enjoy our exciting packages for 2014. Read more...

We have once again teamed up with local, very experienced activity providers, Glaramara and Plattyplus, to offer a fantastic action packed experience for all the family. This is a great chance to enjoy a range of activities with your children in the glorious Lake District. We are offering shorter length breaks this year - a 3 night 2 day activity holiday for families with children aged 8 and over. However, you can extend your stay and we can arrange extra activities, including sailing on Derwent Water and the exhilarating Via Ferrata at Honister.

The holiday will include activities on 2 days:

  • A half day rock climbing and abseiling
  • A half day ghyll (gorge) scrambling
  • A half day of watersports on Derwent Water – canoeing or kayaking
  • A half day Borrowdale Challenge - compete within your family with lots of fun activities, such as coracle building and archery

The full price holiday includes:

  • Activities with fully qualified instructors and all specialist equipment provided
  • 3 nights in a family room
  • Packed lunches on 2 day
  • 3 evening meals and breakfasts

Prices for 2014:

  • Over 18 price:  £210
  • 10 – 17 price:   £190
  • 8-9 years price:£160

Arrival dates: 

Monday 14 April, Monday 21 April, Sunday  3 August, Sunday 10 August, Friday 15 August 2014

These holidays are great for all ages. Here is a testimonial from one of the families who enjoyed a multi-activity holiday: 'We all learned new skills, and learned to push ourselves a bit further than we’d thought we could go; so we all felt good about ourselves. We had spent the week together, supporting, encouraging, admiring and consoling each other. As a family, we had emerged as a stronger unit, more appreciative of each other, and having more fun. This was not the most exotic holiday we’ve ever had, but it was certainly one of the best'.

Please ring or email the hostel for more information.

Walk of the month: Low Bridge End Farm and St John's in the Vale
The wonderful habitats and cakes of Low Bridge End Farm are the focus of this low-level, peaceful, linear walk. Make sure you remember your bus money! Read more...

The focus of this low-level, linear, 7 mile (11 km) walk is Low Bridge End Farm in St John’s in the Vale. The cakes at the farm are particularly good, but there are plenty of other interesting things to see! You will need two OS Explorer Maps for this walk: OL4 and OL5. The farm is found at Grid Reference NY 316215 on the OL5 map.

Low Bridge End Farm is a Higher Level Stewardship Farm, with a strongly principled, environmentally-friendly approach to farming. The farm has been in family ownership since 1911 and today they have a variety of sheep, beef cattle, poultry, and pigs. They also have a fun and informative woodland trail, an orienteering course, craft workshops, a compost toilet, a Viking burial mound, the afore-mentioned yummy cakes (sometimes self-service), fantastic views of the Helvellyn Range, and a wide range of habitats, from flower-rich meadows to beck-side areas and mixed woodland (including some ancient and semi-natural). The woodland trail takes about 45 minutes, and the trail leaflets are available free of charge at the farm.

You can walk to the farm from the hostel: Great Wood; a short distance along the A591 pavement; across the fields from Low Nest Farm (muddy but manageable); past the Youth Centre and St John’s Church, in the gap between Low Rigg and High Rigg; and along an excellent bridleway which starts just below the church and skirts the lower slopes of High Rigg.

As you approach Low Bridge End Farm you will be able to see Castle Rock on the other side of the valley. Do you think this rock looks like an ancient ruined castle? It certainly caught the imagination of the poet Sir Walter Scott: he wrote a poem called The Bridal of Triermaine, inspired by his 1797 and 1805 visits to the area. The Bridal of Triermaine (1805) tells of King Arthur’s arrival at a deserted ‘fatal castle’. He blows a bugle and the castle comes to life with ‘torches flashing bright’ and ‘a band of damsels fair’. However, when at last he departs, he looks back at the enchanted spot and can only see ‘A tufted knoll, where dimly shone/Fragments of rocks and rifted stone’. Where had the towers, donjons, and damsels gone?!

From Low Bridge End Farm you can continue walking south, along St John’s Beck, to join the A591. On the opposite side of the road, a short distance to the south, there is a bus stop (Stanah, at Thirlmere Dam road end) where you can get the hourly 555 bus back to Rakefoot Lane (you then have to walk back to the hostel through Great Wood) or Keswick.

'A small but significant surprise...'
We were sad to say goodbye to our two wonderful Workaway volunteers in February. However, they left us with something very special to remember them by - we just had to find it first! Read more...

Our regular readers and guests will be aware that we have quite a few volunteers in a year.  It was quite a wrench for all of us to say goodbye to our two most recent volunteers, Olivia from California and Clara from Bavaria.   They’d been with us for about 7 weeks and not only were they both very good workers, but they were also great fun to be with. They tackled a wide range of jobs with their trademark enthusiasm and thoroughness - from painting the drying room floor and some of the washrooms to making cakes and serving food. 

We asked them both before they left what their favourite memories would be.  Some of Olivia’s best memories are of kayaking on Derwent Water on a cold day in February and encountering snow on a walk up Bleaberry Fell.  A highlight for Clara was the day she walked to Watendlath with fantastic views of Borrowdale, but she said that her special memories would be of ‘every one of the super-friendly and funny staff’. 

Very much in keeping with their sense of fun, they left a challenge for us after they’d left.  Our only clue was 'Clara & I have left a small but significant surprise somewhere in this  hostel’.  It has taken some of us quite a while to find, but we all reacted the same way on spotting it – with laughter and appreciation of a great souvenir to remember our brilliant Californian and Bavarian friends.  We shall leave it on display in the hostel for guests to discover too.

Meet our new senior catering assistant: a good person to know!
We are delighted that Victoria (Vicky) Skeldon will be starting work at DIH in March. We thought you might like to know a bit about her...over to Vicky! Read more...

Starting on 1st March, Victoria Skeldon (Vicky) will be joining the fun and food at Barrow House, cooking delicious meals and helping out with all the other hostel operations. Vicky will be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, hidden under chef whites and our very attractive (but all-concealing) catering caps, so we thought you might like to meet her in off-duty mode first…

Where were you born? Where did you spend your childhood?

I was born in Ashton-under-Lyne and I was raised in the neighbouring town of Mossley (in Greater Manchester).

What were you doing before you came to DIH?

Before starting at DIH, I have spent the last 8 years working at YHA Hawkshead in a couple of different roles. Before that I worked at Boots during my time at college and university.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

In my free time I like to go walking, swimming, go to the cinema, bake cakes and try cooking new things. I also like taking photographs and travelling to new and exciting places whether at home or abroad.

What is on your kitchen play list?

Mostly 80s/90s music

What is your favourite savoury thing to cook? What is your favourite/signature thing to bake?

My favourite thing to cook is any type of Mexican food as that is my favourite thing to eat. My favourite thing to bake is either Lemon Drizzle Cake or Chocolate Brownie.
(Note from the editor: Great! Look out for a Lemon Cake recipe in our next newsletter)

What is your favourite smell?

Baking cakes

Name some of your favourite films

Jurassic Park, Amelie, Almost Famous

Derwentwater Independent Hostel
Barrow House
CA12 5UR
Telephone: 017687 77246
Email: reception@derwentwater.org

Thank you to Geoff Williams, Rebecca Laff, Fiona McCarthy, John and Sam Snyder, and KTA for generously providing inspiring photographs.
Thank you to Lisa Bamford at Stoats and Weasels for designing our website, and to Sam Snyder for building it.
© 2013 Derwentwater Independent Hostel. All rights reserved. Registered charity: 1145368