Our charity

Registered charity number: 1145368. We became a registered charity in November 2011. You can find us on the Charity Commission website.

Our mission: the advancement of education, personal development, and care for the environment by providing affordable accommodation, learning opportunities, and community engagement in the Lake District National Park.



Chairman: John Snyder. Trustees: Sarah Snyder, Andrew Towler, and Guy Lee.

Welcome from the Chairman of Derwentwater Independent Hostel

I started researching Derwentwater (Barrow House) when the YHA put it up for sale in 2011, and I was overwhelmed to discover a large group of people for whom Derwentwater formed the heart of special Lake District memories.

I spoke with adults who said their stay 20 years ago at Barrow House was the best school trip ever. I met boys in their late teens that were joining their former junior school on its annual visit to the hostel: they were helping with a formative residential visit which they too had enjoyed as pupils a decade before. I spoke to teachers who bring their pupils to the hostel every year. And I immediately felt the enthusiasm, care and friendship of the staff, providing a warm reception and true hospitality.

When I thought of the generations of school children that have been through the hostel doors, and the impact that a residential stay has on their horizons - what they learnt and how they apply their experiences to life thereafter - there was only one thing to do: to buy Barrow House rather than let it become a high-end hotel.

My wife and I knew that Derwentwater was an important and wonderful place to preserve: for all the memories of past visitors, but also for all the vitality and energy of future students, who have yet to learn of the majesty of our hostel, sat beside lake and fell.

We bought Barrow House from the YHA, kept the existing staff, and registered Derwentwater Hostel as a new charity, with fellow Trustees to continue the good work and develop a long-term charitable agenda.

With independence comes our own opportunity to shape future generations. The emphasis on adventurous education, with learning programmes designed around the grounds, the lake, the fells and the forests, allows teachers and students to make the most of the 360° experiences that the hostel has to offer. We welcome you to take the Lake District as an outdoor classroom, packed full of adventure and learning.

I sincerely hope you can bring new generations to Barrow House and continue to build a legacy of experiences and memories for each child, providing profound influences on their future horizons and ways of learning.

Derwentwater Youth Hostel, which we have proudly renamed Derwentwater Independent Hostel, has had an impact on many, many people over these past 50 years. Long may it continue with the extra attention to a 360° outlook for Education and Adventure.

It has been a privilege to work with such a dedicated team at Derwentwater Independent Hostel – ready to smile, embrace and deliver for our guests. We hope you enjoy your stay, build memories for life, and become part of Barrow House history.

John Snyder

Our work

  • 360º Education + Adventure provides affordable, adventurous, and enriching learning-outside-the-classroom experiences for young people.
  • Derwentwater Independent Hostel grants provide young people and schools with a residential learning adventure that they would not otherwise be able to afford.
  • Volunteer opportunities are offered by Derwentwater Independent Hostel. These allow locals and foreign students to gain new skills and develop their potential. Some of the volunteers have been on a 6-week placement at the hostel as part of their university or college course.
  • Affordable accommodation and facilities are provided for groups with charitable aims. These include the Search and Rescue Dog Association and Duke of Edinburgh Award groups.

Thank you

The support that we have received from volunteers, guests, and local people includes:

  • A grant in 2015 from the Sir John Fisher Foundation for subsidising educational residentials
  • Grants in 2014 from the Hadfield Trust, the Quarry Hill Grassroots Grant Fund, and the Cumberland Building Society Charitable Foundation for subsidising educational residentials
  • Contributions of articles and photographs for our monthly newsletter
  • The donation of a microwave for our self-catering kitchen
  • A meal out for all of the hostel staff
  • A logo and website
  • A box of delicious smoked salmon from a Scottish school group
  • Footpath maintenance and bush clearance by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and John Muir Award volunteers
  • Hostel duties by volunteers from the USA, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, France, and the United Kingdom
  • Hostel duties by Duke of Edinburgh Award Bronze Award participants (for their Service section) and Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award participants (for their Residential section)
  • The time, skills, and guidance of our trustees
  • The extra time and thought that our staff members provide


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