The Lake District Guide

Your guide to Youth Hostelling in The English Lakes

The Lake District was one of the pioneering regions for youth hostels. And with good reason, for it's only a generation or two since hostels or camping were the only affordable option for many young people who wanted to see the beauty of Lakeland. Even though conditions were often basic, with shared chores, shared dormitories, and doors locked from mid-morning until late afternoon, hundreds of thousands of people were introduced to the beautiful Lakes area through this basic, budget accommodation.

But of course times have changed, and the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) has changed with them. Lakeland's hostels are now just as much open to families arriving by car as they are to single walkers tramping from one side of the district to the other. And standards have improved too: the shared chores are now mostly a thing of the past, and accommodation in many hostels includes single and double as well as family rooms. Meals and clean bed-linen are provided and many hostels have self-catering kitchens as well as rooms to relax in and watch TV. Having said that, this is still a budget way to travel, and you'll often find yourself sharing a room with bunk beds with people of the same sex - though this can be a great way to make friends and find travelling companions who share your interests. If you're a single walker, it certainly beats a solitary evening alone.

One of the greatest things about youth hostels, though, is still just the same: the fabulous buildings they are in and the superb locations in which they're sited. Ranging from country cottages to mansions via some quirky new buildings, the Lakes youth hostels are all are listed below.

There's another interesting YHA development in this field, too: camping barns. These are exactly what they sound like: barns where you can sleep in the dry, without the need for a tent - though you do need a sleeping bag, cooking equipment and a tolerance for sleeping with loads of people you don't know. Having said that, for 5 a night, and the possibility of taking all your friends along and having the barn to yourselves (if you book it soon enough in advance), it's another great way of getting a cheap holiday.

Locate the Lake District Youth Hostels and Camping Barns (and book online).

Things to know about Lakeland Youth Hostels:

  • You need to book in advance at most of the hostels. The sooner the better, really, as many of them fill up quickly.

  • Some of them may not be open to guests all day during the daytime, and some may close in the evening before you get back from the pub - at least if you stay there all night.

  • Not all hostels serve food; some have excellent food available. It's worth checking what's on offer when you book, so you know exactly what you're going to need to buy, take with you, or eat out.

  • Some of them are a long way from facilities like shops, so you may have to carry your own food if you're walking.

  • You won't be able to book private rooms at all the hostels.

  • Some of them do not open all year round.

  • If you want an exclusive booking for your party, call as soon as possible.

  • Check on the types of accommodation available, prices and facilities before you book!

  • Not all the hostels are accessible by public transport or coach, and two (Black Sail Hut and Coniston Copper Mines) are not accessible by car. Some do not have car parking on site, so check this if you are travelling by car.

  • Process start from around 10 per adult per night and go up to around 20; you pay more if you want a private room. Under 18's and YHA members pay less.

  • The YHA website is here.

Location of Lakeland Youth Hostels:

Carlisle YHA hostel

Open only during July and August (the hostel is in halls of residence for the local university). Address: Old Brewery Residences, Bridge Lane, Caldewgate
Carlisle CA2 5SR Phone: 0870 770 5752

Cockermouth YHA hostel

Handy for Crummock Water and Loweswater. The youth hostel is located in a charming old watermill. Address: Double Mills, Cockermouth, Cumbria CA13 0DS Phone: 0870 770 5768

Keswick YHA hostel

You're on the edge of fantastic country here, with Skiddaw just a stone's throw away from the hostel. The hostel is undergoing major refurbishment and is due to re-open on July 1 2006; you might like to make a Christmas or New Year booking here. Address: Station Road, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5LH Phone: 0870 770 5894

Derwentwater YHA hostel

A beautiful 200 year old mansion with fantastic family rooms and vast grounds for children to play safely. It's right on the edge of Derwentwater. Also near many of the most beautiful walks in the Lake District. Highly recommended. Family rooms get booked up quickly. Address: Barrow House, Borrowdale, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5UR Phone: 0870 770 5792

Buttermere YHA hostel

Ideally placed for Crummock Water and Buttermere. You can hire bikes to explore further afield. The building is a typical Lakeland stone house of the last century. Address: Buttermere, Cockermouth, Cumbria CA13 9XA Phone:
0870 770 5736

Ennerdale YHA hostel

One of our favourite spots in the Lakes, though all of the northern part of the Lakeland scenery is quite beautiful. This is a more remote and wilder part of the Lakes, ideal for walkers who want to get off the beaten track a bit. Address: Cat Crag, Ennerdale, Cleator, Cumbria CA23 3AX Phone: 0870 770 5820

Honister Hause YHA hostel

You'll be lucky if you get in here between April and Easter without an advance booking. It's a wild spot, set in the old quarry worker's accommodation at the top of Honister Pass. The building might not be much to look at, but the scenery is truly wonderful. Highly recommended. Scafell, Great Gable, Pillar, Red Pike and Dale Head are all within easy reach. More suitable for walkers than families! Address: Seatoller, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5XN Phone: 0870 770 5870

Wastwater YHA hostel

A beautiful half-timbered house built in 1829, which offers the better type of youth hostel accommodation. Situated right on the edge of the lake, and within easy reach of some of the country's highest and most spectacular mountains, this is a hostel that comes highly recommended. Address: Wasdale Hall, Wasdale, Seascale, Cumbria CA20 1ET Phone: 0870 770 6082

Borrowdale YHA hostel

A cheap and cheerful hostel, just like the YHA claim. It's hard to single out any area of the Lakes which is more worthy of praise than any other, but the area around Whinlatter is certainly very beautiful. Address: Longthwaite, Borrowdale, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5XE Phone: 0870 770 5706

Langdale YHA hostel

This is one of my favourite youth hostels in the Lakes. It's a rambling mansion with open fires, and there are some fabulous walks right on the doorstep. Whether you arrive by car or on foot, you'll be assured of a good time. Address: High Close, Loughrigg, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9HJ Phone: 0870 770 5908

Patterdale YHA hostel

Set in an incongruous Swedish style pine clad building, it's a great location for exploring the mountains nearby and indeed Ullswater itself. Address:
Patterdale, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 0NW Phone: 0870 770 5986

Blacksail YHA hostel

The fact that this hostel has a mobile phone as its contact number should tell you all you need to know about how accessible it is! Only for the dedicated or hardy walker! Basic facilities. Address: Black Sail Hut, Ennerdale, Cleator, Cumbria CA23 3AY Phone: 07711 108450

Helvellyn YHA hostel

The YHA say the best ascents of Helvellyn start from outside the door of this youth hostel. Well, some might argue with that, though it's true the ascent via Striding Edge is spectacular (not good if you suffer from a fear of heights, maybe!) and if you don't fancy the mountains, you can stroll around the edge of Ullswater. Highly recommended. Address: Greenside, Glenridding, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 0QR Phone: 0870 770 5862

Eskdale YHA hostel

A family-friendly location at Boot, with the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway close at hand, and many walks along the valley or up the mountains. It's a good place from which to explore the Western fells, including Wrynose and Hardknott passes, and the Roman fort at Hardknott is well worth a visit. Address: Boot, Holmrook, Cumbria CA19 1TH Phone: 0870 770 5824

Elterwater YHA hostel

This is one of my favourite Lakeland villages, and I've stayed here many times in all seasons. The hostel is within easy reach of the pub, shop, and all the splendid walks you can tackle from Elterwater. Highly recommended. Book well in advance. Unfortunately there's no car parking at the hostel. Address: Elterwater, Ambleside LA22 9HX Phone: 0870 770 5816

Grasmere YHA hostel - Butharlyp

Easedale Road, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9QG
Phone: 0845 371 9319 Email: Website:

Grasmere - Thorney How Independent Hostel

Thorney How was once owned by the YHA but has now reopened its doors as an independent hostel in the heart of the Lake District. Situated under Helm Crag in Grasmere, Thorney How is a family run hostel providing warm, comfortable and, best of all, affordable accommodation for groups, families and of course individual walkers and climbers. You can find Thorney How just off the beaten track of the Coast to Coast walk, and it's a great rest stop for those heading on towards Patterdale and beyond. The owners also offer good hearty food to warm you through after a long hard day out in the Lake District weather!
The accommodation on offer will suit most groups and individuals who want comfort at a reasonable price: there are rooms and beds for individuals, families, small and large groups, ranging from private 2 bunk rooms to single sex dormitories with ten bunk beds. In total there is room for 53 people in a total of 10 bedrooms. All the rooms have good views, and as you would expect, are fully carpeted, warm and comfortable. There's a separate annexe underneath Helm Crag which has 24 bunk beds and can be used for mixed types of groups, couples and individuals. Should you be travelling in a large group, or a charitable group, discounts are available.
Among the other facilities on offer are private parking, a drying room, a licensed bar, spacious grounds and cycle store, together with good food. With a large dining area that can seat around 40, full catering & self-catering facilities and a full licence for alcohol, Thorney How is able to accommodate many kinds of food and drink related activities! And note that a full English breakfast is a mere 6 a head! Now that's hard to beat!
If you have some specific requests or are planning a function that the owners can help you with, all you need to do is give them a quick ring to discuss the options. And if you just want a bed for the night, you can check availability and book online. Last but not least, for dog owners, a kennel is available for doggy guests at 5.00 per dog per night. But this must be arranged in advance as there is only space for two dogs at a time.

For more information and prices please contact 015394 35597 or email

Ambleside YHA hostel

One of the best hostels in the Lakes, with premium rooms and catering for all types of guests, this is ideal for walkers and families alike. Address: Waterhead, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 0EU Phone: 0870 770 5672

Windermere YHA hostel

It's a couple of miles out of Windermere, but it's in a truly spectacular location and it offers great food and comfort. Highly recommended. Address: Bridge Lane, Troutbeck, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 1LA Phone: 0870 770 6094

Coniston YHA hostel

Another location with two hostels, Coniston is a superb base for exploring the South-western lake district. Coniston Copper Mines hostel is more remote, inaccessible by car, and serves as a great base for walkers. It's not recommended for families. But it would be a great place to stay if you wanted to watch the sunrise from the top of Coniston Old Man! Address: Coniston, Cumbria LA21 8HP Phone: 0870 770 5772 If you want more of a family type environment, try the other hostel, "Holly How". Great fun, a wonderful view, and within easy reach of all that Coniston has to offer. Address: Far End, Coniston, Cumbria LA21 8DD Phone: 0870 770 5770

Hawkshead YHA hostel

A pretty little village, though it suffers from the number of coach parties and trippers it gets. Visit in the quiet season for a better experience. The hostel is a glorious old mansion a mile from the village, and according to the website, is within reach of some of the best mountain-biking in England. Address: Hawkshead, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 0QD Phone: 0870 770 5856

Lakeside YMCA centre

This hostel is a real bargain. What's more, it's the base for the national centre for outdoor activities for the YMCA, so you'd be missing a treat if you wanted good accommodation in this part of Lakeland and you didn't check it out. Address: Lakeside YMCA, Lakeside, Newby Bridge, Ulverston Cumbria LA12 8DB Phone: 01539 539012

Duddon Estuary YHA hostel

A wild and windy place indeed. Great for walkers, cyclists and birdwatchers - and anyone else who just wants to get away from it all. Address: Borwick Rails, Millom, Cumbria LA18 4JU Phone: 0870 770 6107

Kendal YHA hostel

If you're traveling to the Lakes from further afield than a day's drive, here's your ideal stopping place en route. It's a Georgian house in the centre of town, and you can explore the town and eat and drink well before continuing your journey next day to the real heart of the Lakes. Address: 118 Highgate, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4HE Phone: 0870 770 5892

Arnside YHA hostel

A charming and rather large Edwardian house on the outskirts of town is the base for the hostel. It's within easy reach of many parts of the southern Lakes, and it's also situated in a region of great beauty in its own right. This would be a great place from which to tackle the ancient route across Morecambe Bay - which you can only do with a professional guide. (Quicksand and fast running tides abound.) Address: Redhills Road, Arnside, Carnforth, Lancashire LA5 0AT Phone: 0870 770 5674

Morecambe Bay Walk, by James Lomax (a photographer)

Another personal account of the trip across the bay - they both make fascinating reading.