At the start of September our old friends The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) came for the second visit of the year, with another batch of enthusiastic people to help conserve our hostel grounds. Some of them got together and spent their last evening writing this wonderful account of their week here.
'Hitch the Road Rhody!
The eighteen volunteers were made up of a range of people aged between seventeen and sixty five and from as far away as Italy to as near as Penrith. Some came to complete the residential section for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and Queen’s Guide Award, and some have an interest in conservation such as experienced volunteers Chris, Peter and John. Chris is a veteran of conservation working holidays, Peter has travelled to places like Japan and Kenya to do conservation work and John has been a leader to a large number of conservation groups.
By the end of the first day the volunteers had already learnt a huge number of skills, such as sawing wood, hacking bracken, clearing paths and dry stone walling. One of our volunteers, Helen, said 'although we still had a lot of work to get through, the difference was already noticeable'.
Continuing the strenuous work over the next few days, the one thing everyone looked forward to was the hostel’s homemade cakes laid out on the table for our tea break - the chocolate was particularly popular! The most rewarding thing was that by the third and last day of work everyone could tell all our efforts had actually paid off.
On the fourth day we all enjoyed a well-earned day off. Eleven of us walked up Catbells and the remainder explored the local areas like Keswick and Carlisle, with four of us enjoying a rowing boat ride on the lake. In the evening everyone went down to Keswick to eat some delicious fish and chips by the lake.
All the volunteers learnt a variety of skills, such as how to light the fire pits (which is harder than you think) and sawing huge trunks (timber!) Also worthy of mention are our Olympic standard table tennis skills and our fluent German speaking with the two little German guests (called Schmetterling - which means butterfly, if you didn’t know already).
For those who are out there thinking of doing their residential section of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award we would thoroughly recommend this! We have all made new friends and memorable moments from this opportunity (and your assessor will think it’s good too!)
Most importantly, this would not have been possible without the TCV organisation which works to conserve habitats all over the country. A special thanks to group leaders, Peter and John, for guiding this specific group.
The one thing we could not do without is the amazing hostel we stayed in during our holiday which was due to the homely facilities and exceptionally friendly staff which we would like to thank for maintaining this beautiful 200 year old mansion.
Thanks for hosting such an enjoyable holiday!'
One of our regular visitors, Peter Bell, turned up in a different guise when he came in his professional capacity as the Head of two schools based in Grantham. The two schools are known as the Grantham Special Needs Federation (GANF) and cater for children aged between three and nineteen with moderate to severe learning difficulties and complex needs. Peter and the staff from both sites came to the hostel for a two night team-building residential, organised by Senior Teaching Assistant Jacki Bartram.
Jacki told us why they chose our hostel: 'GANF needed a hostel that could house 40 members of staff under one roof and provide outward bound team-building exercises along with conference facilities for our group discussions'.
Peter explained that the purpose behind the visit was to provide an opportunity for staff, who operate out of two different geographical locations, to actually meet face to face. Many of them speak to each other regularly on the phone but have never actually met. It also gave them a chance to get together and plan their vision of GANF for the next two or three years.
The group took part in a range of activities from rock climbing to watersports. As many of them had not been kayaking before they had a (literally) dry run on our lawn, which amused onlookers seeing them apparently paddling on the grass!
Everyone was very lively and upbeat and seemed to be having a great time and bonding really well. Jacki wrote to us with this feedback: 'We found Derwentwater Youth Hostel to be friendly and relaxed and we felt extremely looked after during our stay. The fact that we could walk, kayak and rock climb straight from the hostel was fantastic. We found our stay to be very productive and we are convinced it has helped us team build and move forward as an organisation.'
Our hostel lends itself very well to professional team-building gatherings and we can help organise activities to suit individual group needs. If you think your department or company could do with a trip away to bond in the Lakes then get in touch!
Last month we asked you to tell us what your favourite walk is when you stay at our hostel. Diana Moore, who has visited us three times now, told us about her favourite route for Catbells:
'Catbells is the fell you see right opposite the hostel and begs to be bagged. There are a few ways to get up it from the hostel but I recommend walking along the lakeshore from the hostel to Kettlewell car park and then through the woods to the Lodore Hotel, taking in the Falls along the way. Shortly afterwards you cross a lovely little gated bridge known as the Chinese Bridge (I have no idea why!) and follow the path until it forks. I like to take the left hand path which takes me to the pink houses at Manesty and from there it is a short walk up the road to the start of the bridleway going up to Hause Gate. As you go up and pause for breath, the view just gets better and better. A stop by the cairn at Hause Gate is a must for a bit of sugary sustenance and a few photos of the glorious vista. By now you can see Barrow House far below you on the opposite shore of the lake. One last push and the summit is reached with its stunning panorama of the Lake with its beautiful little islands and the Newlands Valley. Hardcore people will come down the other side and then back along the lakeshore to the hostel, but if you are feeling that you have done enough hard work then a lovely way to return to the hostel is to get the launch back from Hawes End to the Ashness stop, which is just five minutes stroll from the hostel. And of course, you could do the whole expedition in reverse!'
Diana has chosen a classic walk that is suitable as a first fell for both adults and children. I’m sure there are many of you who have recommendations for other beautiful walks that you know and love – so keep them coming in!
The hills may not have been alive with it, but the hostel certainly was for one weekend this month! A group of twenty from Lancaster-based group the Dot Crochets and the Raving Harmonies came to the hostel for a weekend of singing workshops.
The all-women group have been going for sixteen years and is open to any woman in the community who enjoys a good old sing along. Although inevitably people come and go from the group, Susan Keenan, who organised the trip says, 'the group still has original members, together with people who have come over the years and always welcomes new members. We have sung at weddings, civil partnerships, birthdays, funerals, community gigs, been involved with projects with local arts organisations and love the opportunity to sing at a range of occasions.'
The group like to get away together every now and then so that they can spend some solid time together singing. Saturday was spent in the hostel with two workshops, one with the group’s leader, Anni Tracey, and the other with Helen Chadwick, who is new to working with the group and who commented that the closeness of the group really benefited their singing and harmonies. Susan said: 'It’s a real luxury to be able to spend time in the day together learning new songs in different parts and harmonies and making a lovely sound! A weekend gives us chance to spend some valuable social time together too, with lovely food and a few glasses of wine!'
They were all in high spirits, making the most of a well-earned break away from the responsibilities of family life and doing something entirely for themselves. As well as enjoying learning new songs at their workshops on Saturday, they were able to spend Sunday morning doing some local exploring and having fun going on a walk together.
Sue told us that she’d chosen our hostel because they needed a big space for all of them to gather to do their singing, and most hostels have much smaller communal rooms. 'Derwentwater was the ideal setting for our weekend. We could use the dining room for our workshop, there is lots of room for socialising and relaxing and the location is just stunning. We went on a lovely walk on the Sunday and enjoyed glorious weather too, what more could we ask for!! The staff at Derwentwater Youth Hostel were brilliantly helpful and nothing was too much trouble.'
Many of them promised to return with their families and we would love to meet them. Meanwhile, we thoroughly enjoyed being entertained with live singing whilst we worked!
We couldn’t let an opportunity go without showing off this photo of Mark Cavendish on the Tour of Britain. Dave somehow managed to capture the riders perfectly as they hurtled past our drive at incredible speed. Kathy and I had seen them puff their way up Honister Pass in somewhat challenging conditions. There was driving rain and a very cold wind - fortunately at the backs of the riders at that point, but right in the faces of the colourful waterproof-clad spectators. It was amazing to be part of such an international sporting event with the best in the world competing together – the atmosphere, even in the foul weather, was electric. There are rumours that the stage through the Lakes will repeated because the levels of support were unprecedented. We all really hope so, and will keep you posted so you can book your bed – we have a prime position on the route with the riders literally coming past our front gate!