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YHA closures

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Paul Shackleton

YHA closures

Postby Paul Shackleton » 1 Feb 2006, 10:34am


I have been a member of the YHA for many years and have beem appalled at the way the organisation has lost its way in recent years. This morning on the Today programme it was announced that 30+ hostels will now close. They are concentrating on children and group activities. As a touring cyclist I find the network almost impossible to use now si I dread to think about how I am going to manage in the future.

The press release is hidden on the YHA site at [] under the "Network renewal" headline.

I am particularly saddened by the proposed closure of Capel Y Ffin. Don't know how it can be replaced.

Is there any possibility that the CTC could take over some hostels or even open some of our own? We know what we want and if you look at the example of the Gatliffe Trust in the Western Isles they can be run at a minimal cost.

I hope this is the right forum - if not please point me in the right direction.

Please lend your voice by sending a protest email to YHA at mailto:[email protected]

Thanks for listening

Paul Top

Re:YHA closures

Postby Helen » 1 Feb 2006, 1:57pm

I've just e.mailed YHA as you suggested. There's a list of condemned hostels on my post elsewhere. Top
Andy Tallis

Re:YHA closures

Postby Andy Tallis » 1 Feb 2006, 3:54pm

This is what I replied on the other post:
I think I'll miss Capel-y-Ffin. I'm told there was a day when you were not allowed to arrive at a hostel by car or motorcycle - the only vehicle allowed was a bicycle. How wonderful that must have been. Now they seem to assume everyone will arrive by car, even if they then go walking or cycling from the hostel. All the directions to hostels in the handbook assume you are driving and the 2005-6 handbook had not a single picture of a touring cyclist - only mountain bikes.

I think the YHA are also a registered charity and therefore, in my opinion, they should focus on providing an honourable service to their members rather than making a profit, or just surrender their registered charity status and its privaleges and operate as a business. Cyclists and walkers need a network of hostels - not odd ones dotted around the place at irregular and often very big intervals. Those who travel by car I guess are indifferent.


If they are a charity they must work as a charity! Top

Re:YHA closures

Postby pwward » 2 Feb 2006, 12:30pm

I sympathise with Andy and Paul. I'll be affected by the Northumberland closures. I don't see how the YHA has any choice though. They do not exist to make a profit, only to break even and at present they are not even doing that.

It's true about the assumptions they make about how people arrive, but hey, they are correct! They have to live in the modern era or go bankrupt. If people don't use these hostels then inevitably they will have to shut.

I know nothing of the YHA hierachy/Board etc but I expect there was a scrap over these closures and great deal of sadness for the organisation.

The point is carry on using YHA's or more will close. Top

Re:YHA closures

Postby Penny » 12 Feb 2006, 5:22pm


I'm new to this discussion group.

Here is a suggestion I've being making in a few other places eg hostelling internet discussion groups.

It relates to trying to do something to save some of the hostels in England and Wales that the YHA are planning to close - counting the ones announced last year, it actually amounts to around 1/4 of the whole network!

What if as many people as possible (individual walkers and cyclists, and members of various walking, cycling, or hostelling groups) try to visit these hostels sometime before they close eg in the Spring or Summer this year, and enjoy them and the countryside nearby, and take digital photos of the hostels and the surrounding area and other attractions, and/or produce some descriptions about them and the area. The photos and text could be put up on the internet eg "unofficial websites" for the closing hostels.

If this sort of grass roots publicity does improve overnights significantly at these places, and even people who were previously non-hostellers end up finding out these hostels and how nice they are this a) makes it harder for the YHA to justify closing them and b) may help to turn around some of the YHA's financial problems (which is why they feel that they have to sell off hostels in the first place).

Even if this approach does not gather enough momentum to make a real
difference (it really is difficult to predict whether something will capture people's imagination and take off, or end up being a damp squib), I think anyone who did take part might be glad that they managed to stay in some of these great places that we will never see again.

If you know anyone who is interested in the countryside and may want to stay in some lovely places before they are gone, please forward this to them as well.

I would like to encourage as many people as possible to get involved either setting up their own websites - different people have their own perspective or may want have their own individual touch on their websites (perhaps they are particularly interested in walking or cycling or visiting historic places, or are family or group or youth or senior oriented or whatever).

The total number of closures announced in the last 6 months are actually 50 rather than 32.

The closures are:

12 hostels which were announced as closing since August - Badby,
Lincoln, Crowcombe, Aysgarth, Ystradfellte, Kemsing, Malvern, Bradenham, Broadstairs, Winchester, Corris, Hampstead.
The information I have at present is that some of these are still open:
"Badby, Lincoln, are no longer available. Crowcombe will close in 2006 and is taking bookings to end of March. Broadstairs has disappeared from the map despite an offer being listed and the link is dead. Winchester has been taken back by the National Trust. Corris is still open - no longer associating itself with YHA. Bradenham will close in 2006 at a date to be finalised....Aysgarth and Ystradfellte have been sold. Kemsing, Malvern and Hampstead appear to be open as 'normal'"

6 more closures were announced over Xmas - Portsmouth,Baldersdale,
Blaencaron, Chester, Dentdale, Llanbedr.
I think they are still open at present.

32 more were announced very recently - the YHA are intending to start to close these later this year, but the closures will be spread over a longer period, so there may be more chance of saving some of them.

The following will be closed with no replacement.
1. Ivinghoe in the Chilterns and on the Ridgeway National Trail
2. Blackboys in the Sussex Weald on the Weald Way path.
3. Castle Hedingham in Essex.
4. Steps Bridge in the Teign Gorge near Exeter and Dartmoor.
5. Dartington near Totnes on the River Dart near Dartmoor and the South Devon Coastpath.
6. Quantock Hills near Holford in Somerset.
7. Elmscott near Hartland and Clovelly on the North Devon Coastpath.
8. Capel-y-Ffin in the Brecon Beacons on Offas Dyke and the Cambrian Way.
9. Trefin on the Pembrokeshire Coastpath.
10. Dolgoch in the remote Welsh Tywi Valley.
11. Tyncornel in the remote Welsh Elenydd.
12. Llangollen in the Clwydian Hills & Dee Valley; one of YHA's flagship activity centres till just a couple of years ago.
13. Meerbrook in the Peak District near the Roaches rocks and Staffordshire Moorlands.
14. Langsett near Sheffield on the newly-opened Trans-Pennine Trail.
15. Earby between the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland on the Pennine Way and Pendle Way.
16. Stainforth in the Yorkshire Dales on the Pennine Way and Three Peaks Challenge Walk.
17. Keld in Swaledale at the junction of the Pennine Way with the
Coast-to-Coast Path and Herriot Way.
18. Kirkby Stephen in the Eden Valley on the Coast-to-Coast Path.
19. Alston in the North Pennines and South Tyne Valley on the Pennine Wayand Coast-to-Coast Cycle Route.
20. Greenhead on Hadrians Wall and the Pennine Way.
21. Acomb near Hexham on Hadrians Wall between Northumberland and the North Pennines.
22. Bellingham near Kielder Water in Northumberland on the Pennine Way.
23. Wooler in the Cheviot Hills on St Cuthberts Way and the Ravenber Path.

The following will be closed but YHA will see if it's possible to open
another hostel in the area after they've closed:

24. Dover in Kent on the North Downs Way.
25. Hastings (Guestling) on the Sussex Coast.
26. Brighton (Patcham) on the South Downs Way.
27. Sandown on the Isle of Wight.
28. Lynton in Exmoor on the North Devon Coastpath and Two Moors Way.
29. Matlock in the Peak District.
30. Bakewell in the Peak District.

The following will be closed if YHA can open another hostel in the area:

31. Liverpool, only opened a few years ago.
32. Rotherhithe, opened a few years ago as a flagship hostel. Top


Re:YHA closures

Postby braz » 13 Feb 2006, 9:50am

Penny - a long 'post' from you!

I've been trying to deal with the YHA for a couple of years now, regarding purchase of closing hostels and their Enterprise scheme. I've finally given up - whoever 'runs' the YHA now has no inclination to keep traditional hostels open but sees the organisation as providing 'small hotels' in areas close to 'attractions'. The cyclist and walker is no longer catered for.

The structure of management within the organisation - both at local, regional, and HQ level is about as poor as you could get - and if anyone from the YHA ever reads this - yes, I mean you! Because you have not listened to the people, have not tried to manage the hostels properly, not looked at alternative schemes to make the hostels a success - because you just don't know how to do it. Go sack yourselves.

A charity should be there to provide a service to all that need it, and not to sell off it's best assets when times become difficult because of their own missmanagement. We who have used and support the YHA are having to pay the price for the ineptitude of the organisation's management - but do they care? - It seems not. They don't respond to suggestions of help, don't respond to alternative ideas that may make 'failing' hostels work, and don't really have any idea as what to do - except to close hostels down. Good job that they are not running our hospitals!!

regards to all, Braz. Top

Re:YHA closures

Postby jb » 13 Feb 2006, 10:54am

I remember a few years back Keld Hostel being packed to bursting every week in the summer due to the enthusiasm of a certain Warden. But every scheme was met with the business enthusiasm of a wet dishcloth by the management.
Their only contribution was to ban the very popular rabbit that was around at the time.

The emergence of private hostels springing up all over proves it can be done but unfortunately obtaining a suitable building in these areas is very costly, its not like they’ve had buildings given to them like some organisations. Top

Re:YHA closures

Postby gar » 13 Feb 2006, 2:56pm

My YHA post this morning, re organised activity holidays for YHers, seems to be quite a good way of organising the Hostels for full occupancy, contrary to the opinion above. Top

Re:YHA closures

Postby PHIL » 13 Feb 2006, 4:50pm

What??????????? Top

Re:YHA closures

Postby braz » 13 Feb 2006, 9:48pm

Gar - when did you last visit a hostel? And do you believe everything that is sent to you in the post?

Gar, you normally keep a balance to what you say in your posts, but this time you are way off the mark - if you really don't know about something perhaps it's best to refrain from setting yourself up to be shot down.

regards to all, Braz. Top

Re:YHA closures

Postby jb » 14 Feb 2006, 12:36am

Not working is it Gar?

Management should respond to & support the "individual" ideas of each what use to be ‘Wardens’ now ‘Hostel Management androids’ at each unique and "individual" Hostel as they should know the "individual" situation best - not the other way round, but alas, that means work, proper work. Top

Re:YHA closures

Postby Pilotlight » 14 Feb 2006, 8:54pm

I hope you realise that the number of hostels in northern England has been seriously reduced. 5 If you include Alston and Kirkby Stephen. Some of these have been replaced by camping barns. Top

Re:YHA closures

Postby mel » 15 Feb 2006, 6:25pm

I don't think there's any point in writing to anyone to complain about the YHA demise, particularly the YHA itself, I've never had them answer an e-mail yet. The YHA is doomed, buy a tent or go B&B, could try the independant Hostels though. Top

Re:YHA closures

Postby gar » 16 Feb 2006, 7:35am

My YHA post this morning, re organised activity holidays for YHers, seems to be quite a good way of organising the Hostels for full occupancy, contrary to the opinion above.

My late Pa used to take his school parties to the Gower and Swanage in the late 50s. Swanage has been doing school parties for more than 50 years.

The last time I was at Bakewell that is what they were doing, so I could not get in.

I'm glad nobody said that they are only taking
Young people now... so it can't be any good.

It is the kind of comment that such discussions engender.

Lone cyclists are not their top priority; I am always grateful for the bed and a bit of very much appreciated companionship with (other) young people. When I hostel again I shall certainly turn up on a trike.... all the way; could be this year.

Who is complaining about paying £9.50 per night for a bed? All of you? Top

Re:YHA closures

Postby braz » 16 Feb 2006, 11:57am

Gar - get with it! The average cost of an overnight stay at a YHA hostel for 2006 will be £13.95 - see their latest price list, or their website. And that's if you can find one open!

This is for a creaky bunk bed in a dormitary, along with up to 11 other smelly, snory, belchy, farty, and otherwise incontinent 'guests', many of whom will have arrived back from the pub by car at 11pm and wake you up, or else in a remote bed in a hostel with dozens of noisy, uncontrolled school parties, many of whom will be smoking in the bogs. And that's just the teachers!

I could put up with it if it were cheap - but it's not!

B & B's are still out there for between £16 and £20, if you make the effort to find them. Comfortable accommodation with hosts who appreciate you, good food, good company, secure cycle stores, and best of all - open all year round!

For an extra £3 + I know where I will be staying this year!

Come on, all you 'posters' - only comment on what you really know about, not what you surmise as being the truth!

regards to all, Braz. Top

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