“ Address: Far End, Coniston, Cumbria LA21 8DD. Tel: 0845 371 9511 „
Coniston Water lies at the southern end of the Lake District, sandwiched between Grizedale Forest and The Old Man of Coniston. At the northern end of this lake is the village of Coniston,
Holly How Youth Hostel is situated on the outskirts of the village of Coniston, and is only a few minutes walk from the beautiful Lake Coniston. The short walk into Coniston village also takes you to the bus stop which takes you to Windermere or Ulverston, both of these places have train stations so it is pretty easy to visit by public transport.
++++ Surroundings ++++
On the edge of the village of Coniston sits this large house set in a pleasant garden with mature trees and surrounded by woodland. A short driveway heads up through the garden to the hostel, where you can drop off luggage and people before parking in the available spaces at the bottom of the drive. In the lovely garden are the lawns, some picnic benches, and a fenced off pond area obviously to keep out small children.
++++ Facilities ++++
This hostel has a restaurant with a table licence, serving both breakfast and evening meals. This is a great option if you don't want the hassle of cooking your own meals. Local produce is used as much as possible, and the menu offers a good variety of classic meals, and they are a reasonable price too.
There are a large number of other rooms to relax and unwind in and a variety of useful facilities. A games room, lounge, TV lounge, cycle store, dining room, self catering kitchen, BBQ area, shop, drying room, laundry, washing machines, and obviously toilets and showers. The building was nice and warm, and clean and well maintained.
++++ Bedrooms ++++
There are a range of different sized rooms, mostly they are traditional hostel style with a large number of bunkbeds, there are 4 rooms of 8 beds, and one with more than 10 beds. There are also some smaller rooms, 4 rooms of 4 beds which are suitable for smaller groups or families. There are cots available, and under 3 year olds are welcome.
When you are directed to your room the first thing you have to go is make the bed. Gone are the days of scratchy blankets, instead you get a reasonable duvet. The bedding pack contains your bottom sheet, duvet cover and pillow case, which all come cleaned and pressed in a plastic bag. The bed I slept on was comfortable, although it did seem slightly short, maybe I'd slid down the bed without noticing!
++++ Activities ++++
Not only does this hostel provide good value accommodation but it also runs a number of training courses, family and multi-activity breaks. Courses aren't just aimed at children and beginners, some of them are pretty full on. These include courses for rock climbing, scrambling, navigation, mountain leader (training and assessment), kayaking, ghyll scrambling, abseiling and caving!
There are lots of other things to do locally, like mountain biking, sailing, cruising on the lake and visiting the local tourist attractions.
++++ Prices ++++
Prices start at £16 for adults and £12 for under 18's. I got a special spring offer so stayed for less than a tenner. If you're not a member of the YHA then you pay an extra £3 per adult or £1.50 for under 18's. This is effectively a day rate of membership.
Membership isn't all that expensive though, and is especially good value for a family at £22.95 which includes 2 adults living at the same address and all the under 18's travelling with you.
++++ Conclusion ++++
This hostel is in a really great place in the Lake District, especially if you want to go walking around and up the Old Man. The accommodation is fairly simple, but perfectly adequate and there is a pleasant atmosphere with friendly staff. If you are travelling alone it's also a great way to meet other people which is less likely in a hotel or B&B. For a family this would definitely be a cost effective way to spend a long weekend on holiday, especially if you don't want to or the weather isn't amenable to camping!
I would definitely stay at this hostel again, and was very impressed by the variety of courses they offer which I may take advantage of at some point. There weren't really any bad points, although by being a licensed you're not allowed to drink your own alcohol which can be annoying if you are there as a bunch of friends and want to take your own wine/beer.