Barrow House has been in continuous use as a hostel since 1961, but there have been very few different managers in that time, indicating the love and loyalty for the house and its purpose and the family atmosphere it creates. Kathy and Dave have been running Derwentwater since the 1990s, bringing up their family here, but this summer they are going to handover to Tim and Aukje Butcher, and we know they will do a great job. Just as in all things, Kathy and Dave have given the handover process great care and attention, and we are very grateful for the early appointment of Tim and Aukje Butcher, and the well-thought out preparations for a smooth transition. It was lovely to meet the Butcher family earlier this year, with Tim and Aukje bringing their children, Emily (10) and Toby (13), to look around and visit local schools, and they were eager to introduce themselves in the newsletter. We hope you enjoy reading their introduction, and in a future newsletter Kathy and Dave will write more about the handover and their many wonderful years at Barrow House.
A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of meeting Tim and Aukje Butcher, our forthcoming new managers (starting August 2016), and their children, Emily and Toby. They were really keen to introduce themselves in the newsletter and so thank you to Tim for writing these words:
A big hello from the Butcher family! I would like to introduce our family as I am very pleased to be taking over the running of Derwentwater Independent Hostel from Kathy and Dave in August this year. I have been running Youth Hostels for nearly 25 years and, after a number of years in York, my partner Aukje and I are hugely looking forward to our return to the Lakes. We have always dreamed about coming back, and until now have visited the Lakes several times each year as we all love walking and being outdoors.
Aukje is originally from the Netherlands and came to England in her twenties to work as a seasonal assistant in Youth Hostels. She loved it and decided to stay working in Youth Hostels for 11 years in total. We met whilst both working in Lake District hostels nearly 17 years ago. We moved to Matlock, followed by another move to York where our children Toby and Emily were born. Toby is now 13 and Emily is 10 and both are as excited as we are to make the move to Derwentwater.
Whilst we will all miss friends and family in Yorkshire, we can't quite believe how lucky we are: Toby is looking forward to being able to go kayaking on Derwentwater whenever he wants (he is a member of Sea Scouts in York and has done lots of kayaking on the River Ouse); Emily is excited about doing more horseriding and being able to do lots of hillwalking to tick off those Wainwrights; Aukje is looking forward to working in a hostel again, with long walks, bike rides and beautiful views, as am I; and I am particularly happy about being able to take our new dog Dusty on long walks to all my favourite places.
We are looking forward to meeting and welcoming all Derwentwater Hostel guests, and carrying on the brilliant work Dave and Kathy and staff have done for so many years. They are a hard act to follow but we will do our very best to make it as welcoming and homely and as great a place to stay as they do.
Tim, Aukje, Toby, Emily and Dusty.
Over the past year Dave and Kathy have been working hard with the National Trust and the Lake District National Park Authority to create a new footbridge over Barrow Beck, the stream which flows through our grounds. This will provide easier access to the path through Strutta Wood, reducing the need to walk along the road when the lake is too high.
Construction of the bridge was due to start in December, but the storms that were washing away several other bridges did not make it a good time to start! Actually, despite the severe erosion of Barrow Beck, the bridge to our hydro plant stayed firm, and so we are very glad that its builder, John Pepper, was also commissioned with the building of the new footbridge.
We are very grateful to the Lake District Communities Fund for funding the new footbridge, and we hope you enjoy walking across it soon.
Nicola has done a great job of hanging the new curtains for Room One. Thank you to Textures in Keswick for the material, and to Di at Diane's Soft Furnishings for making them so beautifully. It feels like we should hold a theatre production behind them!
In February we welcomed another two groups of Merchant Navy Cadet Officers from the Fleetwood Nautical Campus of Blackpool and the Fylde College. At the end of the second week I had a quick chat with one of the cadets while he was ironing his uniform for the mess dinner...
Originally from Ireland, Rob Walton is now in Phase 1 of the Merchant Navy course at Blackpool and the Fylde College. He was really enthusiastic about all aspects of the week at Derwentwater, but he mentioned canoeing as a particular highlight, with the lake 'as still as glass’. The group did quite a lot of strenuous walking, with some night navigation, but Rob described this as 'all good fun'. This, and the excellent ironing demonstration, all bodes well for the rest of his course.
We look forward to meeting some more cadets in September.
The Essex Scout Mountain Activity Team (ESMAT) run regular courses around the UK and Europe, giving young people and leaders the chance to gain valuable climbing, mountain walking, leadership and navigation experience. In February ESMAT held their Winter Mountaineering Course at Derwentwater for the first time, and we are happy to have a report from the organisers Peter and Gemma Burton (father and daughter):
‘Essex Scout Mountain Activity Team have been running a Winter Mountaineering Training Course in the Lake District for over 25 years. For 2016, we moved to a new home: Derwentwater Independent Hostel. This year we had 30 Explorer Scouts, 20 Scout Leaders and 24 Mountain Leaders, for a great and challenging weekend. 12 separate groups spent the weekend winter walking or, for one brave group, Ice Climbing. Weather conditions were very challenging, with strong winds and rain, but the ice climbers made use of the indoor ice wall in Keswick. All in all, a great weekend was had by all and we have already booked for 2017.’
Thank you Peter and Gemma: we look forward to seeing everybody again next year.