The past month has been a cornucopia of old and new, with several guests enjoying their first hostel experience alongside long-time hostellers and friends of the hostel.
There have been many wonderful thank you messages for Kathy and Dave, our 'nearly old' managers, and a flurry of new carpets and paint for our new manager Tim Butcher and his family. Thank you to everyone for their best wishes to Kathy and Dave, and Tim and Aukje and their family.
We often see Mountain Rescue vehicles going past the hostel for exercises and call outs, but this time we were the venue for the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dog Association Seminar, and it was great to meet different rescue team members and their dogs. One of the members had actually been here the week before, leading a school group from Penrith, so it was funny to see him with a different hat on, looking after his dog instead of 50 children. Here is the organiser of the weekend, Andy Peacock, with a report and a fantastic photo:
'Derwentwater proved the perfection location. Kathy and Dave and all the staff looked after us superbly. We were fed well and the accommodation was great for delegates staying over the weekend.
The Dining Room was a great place to hold the main lectures. Talks and presentations were given on topics as diverse as Scent Theory, Mental Wellbeing for Mountain Rescuers, and the Development of Search Dogs Abroad. The hostel also had several smaller rooms at our disposal that were great to use as break out rooms.
The grounds of the Hostel allowed us to work and demonstrate techniques with our Search Dogs in beautiful surroundings. Thanks Derwentwater Independent Hostel.'
You can find more information about the LDMRSDA here: http://www.lakes-searchdogs.
The Stephensons are old hands at hostelling, but full of new ideas.
They showed us some of their hostel stamps (from a collection of about 450!) and gave us some great suggestions for a new Derwentwater Independent Hostel stamp.
The picture above is our current, very old, stamp, but we are putting our design hats on to make a new one.
It was a pleasure to have 7 year old Matthew Weldon and his cousin Jonathan Poulton to stay at the hostel in July, along with Matthew's grandmother Val Atkinson.
Val first stayed here in the 1980s with her children, and she still has a wonderful enthusiasm for hostelling and exploring the outdoors. She was keen to introduce Jonathan and Matthew to hostels, and by the look of their thank you letters and smiling faces they had a great time.
Hopefully they will start collecting hostel stamps, just like our long-time regulars, and we will design a new stamp in readiness for next summer.
This July we really noticed the loyalty and long term connections that many people have with the hostel.
One lady, visiting with her family, first came to stay at Derwentwater 32 years ago as a pupil on a primary school residential, and I found her recreating a photo that she has from that first visit. She was sitting on the front steps, with her children who are about the same age as she was back then. Apparently she is still in touch with all the pupils who were in the original photo, and she told us how clearly they remember the spectacular views and their enjoyment of the residential. We love a good review, whatever year it relates to!
I also came across a couple of families who asked me to take their photo on the terrace. They have been coming to Derwentwater together for 8 years, always taking a group photo in the same spot, and one of their party, Mr Rochester, told us about their connection to the hostel, as well as sending us copies of the 2016 and 2008 photos:
'We (The Rochester & Lee families from North Yorkshire) have been coming to Derwentwater Hostel for many years. Originally the 2 dads – considerably younger men in those days - came to do enthusiastic fellwalking expeditions, staying in the large dormitory. Later, we became more civilised and booked private rooms for both families. The children have grown up knowing and loving the hostel: the food, the waterfall, Ashness Bridge, football on the lawn and table tennis in the room down the corridor. Or just reading and playing board games in the lounge when it’s raining – which has happened occasionally...
We’ve done all sorts of activities during our stays. Walking down the drive to catch the Launch is a perennial favourite, usually to go across the lake to climb Catbells - inevitably followed by a visit to a coffee shop in Keswick. Rowing out to the island, like in Swallows and Amazons, has also been special. And we’ve seen some great performances at the Theatre by the Lake. When the hostel was threatened with closure a few years ago, the children wrote letters to Sir Chris Bonington. We have got to know many of the Hostel staff over the years, including Kathy & Dave. It was an honour to be the recipients of Dave’s last ever cooking at the Hostel a few weeks ago, which was of course delicious. However, we know that Derwentwater will go from strength to strength in the future.'
Here are the Rochester and Lee families in 2008.