YHAs are ideal bases for runners, climbers, walkers, mountain bikers and families… Read on to find out why.
While we were researching routes for Wild Running we discovered that many of our favourite runs started and/or finished very conveniently close to YHA hostels. Many are based in fantastic places, off the beaten track and with great running on the doorstep. They are set up perfectly to accommodate muddy outdoorsy people with hot showers, drying rooms and big spaces to relax, socialise and refuel. Well-stocked self-catering kitchens and onsite bars all help make them great places to stay. 2014 saw the inaugural Run YHA event at YHA Castleton in the Peak District – well attended and enjoyed by all who ran. This year’s Run YHA is over the weekend of the 9th & 10th May – it’s set to be a fantastic event and we’ll be there so come and say hello! Tickets will be on sale any time now but to be the first to know you can register your interest here: www.yha.org.uk/run-yha-
Run YHA 2014 (copyright YHA)
Imagine your running club or group being based at YHA Coniston in the middle of the Lake District, YHA Castleton tucked under the Kinder plateau in the Peak District or high up in the mountains of Snowdonia at YHA Pen-y-Pass; a weekend surrounded by the best running (not to mention walking, climbing, cycling and water sports) Britain has to offer. They’re perfectly placed for a recce of a long route such as the Bob Graham Round or the Pennine Way, or you could hold a club Welsh 3000s race or simply explore a new area with a group of running friends. All with a runner-friendly warm and comfortable place to eat, socialise and sleep, with some amazing adventures in between. All YHA hostels can take group bookings or even be booked exclusively for your group through YHA Exclusive Hire exclusive-hire.yha.org.uk.
Win Hill in the Dark Peak
YHAs are also perfectly suited to longer, multi-day routes. All of the National Parks are well served by the huge network of hostels and several of the National Trails also have hostels en route. Creating an adventure by running a route between YHA hostels means that you can run a linear route, like the South West Coast Path, without the complex logistics of transport and carrying equipment or the awkward moment when you turn up at a posh little B&B coated in mud. We once ran the Cotswold Way over a long weekend and stayed in a lovely Arts and Crafts B&B. We spent what should have been a relaxing evening worrying about getting the furniture muddy and trying to hide the wet footprints we were leaving on the beautiful polished wood floors. The breakfast, although lovely, was also served in a normal-sized portion (I could easily have done three!) whereas YHA breakfasts are an all-you-can eat buffet plus whatever else you order. Much better suited to back-to-back long days out in the hills.
On the SW Coast Path right outside YHA Treyarnon
As well as hosting their own events YHAs make great bases for a race weekend away. The relaxed, informal atmosphere with showers, food and beds can reduce the effort of the race weekend allowing you to concentrate on the race itself. Self-catering facilities mean you can have exactly what you want for your pre and post-race meals and they also normally stock Jennings Cumberland Ale which has a fell runner on the label so it’s practically training! The hostels are all over the country so its likely that there will be one conveniently placed for your next race.
We’ve been working with YHA to create some great running routes direct from the hostel doors. You can download our 10 favourite routes in a handy information booklet here.
Lizzie Wraith (Montane Lakeland 100 course record holder) loves to run in the Brecon Beacons. Her two-day route linking YHA Danywenallt and YHA Brecon Beacons (featured in Trail Running magazine issue 24: Feb/March 2015) takes in the Talybont Reservoir and heads over Bwlch Duwynt before descending to the hostel for a comfortable place to sleep and eat. The return leg sends you back over Pen-y-Fan to the start point.
Wild Running in the Brecon Beacons
Finally, for those looking for a family-friendly getaway with great running all around, YHAs make a brilliant base for a family holiday or weekend escape. There’s always a communal space to relax in and plenty of books and toys to keep little people entertained. If you choose to camp (many YHAs have campsites attached) you can still use the inside communal kitchen and eating areas which is great if its wet or cold outside. You can then take it in turns to get out for a run straight from the door.
We recently spent a few nights camping with our two young children at YHA Holmbury in the Surrey Hills (Pictured below). Nestled up a long drive in the woods the kids loved camping with the owls and exploring the Hurtwood during the day, our 3 year old also loves to help cook in the communal kitchens. We had some great family walks, explored some new run routes and both got out for a good run each day.