So many youth hostels have a fascinating history and it’s one of the reasons we enjoy staying with the YHA.
Take YHA Hawkshead, alias Esthwaite Lodge, one mile south of the pretty Lake District village. Its first recorded owner was in the late 18th century and, in 1936, was bought by the Forestry Commission. As well as this traditional Lakeland lodge, the Commission acquired the surrounding estate.
The property remained unoccupied for years until the International Voluntary Service for Peace was housed there for a time. During the Second World War, Land Girls working for the Forestry Commission in Grizedale Forest used it as their base. Then, in 1942, the YHA bought the house and seven acres of the grounds.
This huge, attractive house is just 15 minutes’ drive from Ambleside and ideally located for exploring, in particular, the area west of Windermere, including Coniston and Sawrey.
We were allocated a spacious ensuite family room situated in the courtyard, close to the main building, and – although meals are offered at the hostel – we decided to self-cater. We found the kitchen modern, well-equipped and offers plenty of space to cook without feeling on top of other guests; the self-catering dining room was equally spacious.
After dinner, we enjoyed playing pool, table tennis and wandering around the grounds.
Three more plus points: there are plenty of parking spaces, all the members of staff we encountered were friendly and helpful and, if you want to try something different, opt for a camping pod, bell tent or tipi. Overall, a decent hostel in a fab location.
We’d recommend staying at this hostel.
www.yha.org.uk, tel: 0345 371 9321
Reviewed: July 2019