#LiveMoreYHA Issue #05 - October 2016
Think big We discover why the Brecon Beacons are the perfect year-round walking destination on a hostel-to-hostel walk
Mersey paradise Explore Liverpool
Meet YHA ambassador Sir Ranulph Fiennes
The 'secret' hostels you need to know about
FOR YHA MEMBERS IN STORE AND ONLINE
*Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount. Only valid on production of your YHA membership card in store or use of discount code online. Offer expires 31.12.16.
Welcome The magazine you’re now reading comes out four times a year, which means that every time I sit down to write this welcome address a new, fresh season is upon us. It always serves to remind me how quickly the year goes by. Can it really be possible that Christmas is almost with us again? It seems like only yesterday that the mountains were dotted with summer hikers. Here at YHA we try to make every year count, and we’ll be investing millions over the next few years to keep developing and improving our network of hostels. We’ve earmarked ten properties that are set to benefit from extra investment in 2017, and we’ll be working hard to ensure they meet – and even exceed – the high standards we always strive for. We’re proud of the fact that our network already includes a strong number of widely renowned hostels (I’m sure you’ll all have your own favourites), but we know too that some of our properties remain slightly under the radar. That’s why we’ve taken the chance in this issue to highlight nine superbly located hostels that don’t always draw huge attention. We hope they provide some inspiration for your next YHA break. Elsewhere in the magazine you’ll find an interview with our new ambassador, the incredible Sir Ranulph Fiennes, alongside features on taking a cultural city break in Liverpool and trekking hostel-to-hostel in the Brecon Beacons. All that remains is for me to wish you a fantastic remainder of 2016, and to thank you all once again for your ongoing support. Happy reading.
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Stepping Out: Exclusive Hire
Exclusively yours Over the winter, an amazing range of more than 100 YHA hostels are available for Exclusive Hire at very low rates – including the dramatic YHA Tintagel
Mystery and history dominate any visit to Tintagel. The site of the castle – recently given a visitor-friendly overhaul by English Heritage – has been inhabited since Roman times, but it’s perhaps most famous for being named by Geoffrey of Monmouth as the place where King Arthur
was conceived. The area even now brims with Arthurian legend. Of course, this salty-aired, myth-laden break in north Cornwall is just one choice at your disposal. The 100-plus hostels in the Exclusive Hire scheme include other superb historical options such as YHA Beverley Friary, a fully restored monastery mentioned in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It starts at £99 per night – and sleeps 30. And YHA Tintagel? It starts at £149 a night and sleeps 22: the perfect base for a bracing winter walking weekend. exclusive-hire.yha.org.uk
The newly refurbished hostel has one of the most stirring locations of any YHA residence
YHA Tintagel perches above the dramatic north Cornish coastline, only half a mile away from Tintagel Castle. The newly refurbished hostel has one of the most stirring locations of any YHA residence, and during quieter months it’s available for Exclusive Hire, at incredibly reasonable rates.
Stepping Out: Exclusive Hire
DISCOUNT * For YHA members IN STORE AND ONLINE
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* Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount. Only valid on production of your YHA membership card in store or use of discount code online. Offer expires 31.12.16.
Big Day YHA Ilam Hall proved the perfect setting for the nuptials of hostellers Polly and Gareth Fate can be a wonderful thing. Three years ago, Polly Emmott and Gareth Hughes were driving to Bakewell on a late-winter hiking holiday. Passing through the Peak District, the Bristol-based couple stopped to admire the snowy hills, only to find that their Nissan Micra had given up on them. On top of a mountain. Polly takes up the story. “We bundled ourselves up and found our way to the nearest YHA without a map. As we tumbled through the snow and sheep poo, I said to Gaz that if we survived we should get married. We eventually walked into a warm welcome at Ilam Hall – and saw that they hosted weddings! When we got engaged, there was only one place right for us.” They got married on August 6th. “We had the hostel from Friday afternoon until Sunday
Stepping Out: Weddings morning, and most of our guests spent the full weekend with us,” continues Polly. “Friday was spent busy with bouquets and bunting. The hostel put on a pie night – and kept the wine flowing!” “On Saturday morning, we calmed ourselves down in our favourite way, by going for a long walk! Our ceremony began at 2pm, and we walked down the aisle to a Fleet Foxes song. The highlight was a feathery surprise organised by Gareth – an owl ring-bearer! I had tears in my eyes as the owl flew towards our best man’s glove, missed, and landed on the bunting!” “The wedding was utterly perfect and exactly what we had hoped for. The entire day was full of laughter and tears!” YHA Ilam Hall and YHA Hartington Hall are both licenced for weddings, and many others can be hired for receptions – including YHA Wilderhope Manor, where there’s a honeymoon suite. Find out more at: groups. yha.org.uk/groups/ special-occasions
Stepping Out: Night walking
Walking at night As the evenings draw in, Daniel Neilson takes time to seize the night It’s the eyes I notice first. Dozens of them staring at me through the thicket. Most of the yellow dots are tiny – a toad perhaps, even a spider – then suddenly the full pattern of an avian optic is caught in my headlamp's glare: an owl. It’s a disconcerting start to my nighttime walk. We often enjoy seeking solace on daytime countryside walks; at night it’s patently clear we’re never alone. As I climb onto the ridge of the South Downs above YHA Eastbourne and stow my headlamp, the chalk path gleams in the moonlight; a bright white streak that will lead me along my walk. I’m still not alone, sensing bats and hearing all manner of scuffles and snorts. It’s taken me a couple of walks to accustom myself to this other world, and the rewards become greater each time. As the days shorten this winter, I’ve decided to embrace them.
Diamond Duke Millions of young people from all backgrounds have completed a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) over the last six decades. YHA is proud to have been part of this journey, helping countless participants to undertake the Volunteering section of their DofE, as well as hosting residential stays for participants at Gold level. 10
Top tips for walking at night 1. Start somewhere you know well. 2. Take two headlamps, batteries and a phone. 3. The temperature can plummet after sunset. Take very warm clothes. 4. If it’s your first time, start early in the morning so you’re guaranteed light soon. 5. Take a map and compass. Getting lost is the biggest risk. Plan your route carefully and know what to expect.
Peter Westgarth, Chief Executive of the DofE, says: “Our Diamond Anniversary is a remarkable milestone, an opportunity to reflect on the millions of young people’s lives that have been transformed by doing their DofE since 1956 and to affirm our ambition to involve millions more in the future."
Stepping Out: Family activities
Staying strong We’ve invested an amazing £30 million in our hostels over the last three years, with the aim of ensuring we can continue to inspire and enrich a new generation of hostellers. And we’re delighted to announce that due to our sustained growth in income, this investment will continue into 2017, with ten more of our properties set to benefit next year. They are: YHA Bath, YHA New Forest, YHA St David’s, YHA Tanners Hatch, YHA Liverpool, YHA Hartington Hall, YHA Treyarnon, YHA London St Paul’s, YHA London Thameside and YHA Keswick.
Sunset sounds Love music? Missing summer? We’ve put together a double compilation album of the best live music sessions from the wonderful Trey Bay Café at YHA Treyarnon. All songs on the Sunset Sessions CD have been donated by the artists, so that £5 from each sale goes straight to our charity Breaks for Kids. Buy yours for just £8.46 (inc p&p) at yha.org.uk/sunset-sessionscompilation-cd-treyarnon-bay
Proper family fun
If yours is the kind of family that likes its boots muddy and its hair windswept, you'll love the fantastic family multi-activity weekends currently on offer at YHA Edale. At just £120 for the full package from Friday evening to Sunday lunch (including sole-use family rooms and all meals), it covers activities such as weaselling, canoeing, raft-building, abseiling, archery, orienteering, a high-ropes course and more. The weekends will be taking place on Nov 25th-27th, Dec 30th-Jan 1st, Feb 24th-26th, April 7th-9th & May 12th-14th. All outdoor and specialist equipment is provided and there are free transfers from Edale railway station for those arriving by train. Single-activity sessions (excluding accommodation) can be booked through YHA for £20/adults and £14/under-18s. And in true YHA style, the programme goes ahead whatever the weather… yha.org.uk/edale-activity-centre 11
Stepping Out: Sir Ranulph Fiennes
Sir Ranulph Fiennes One of the world’s greatest living explorers – and YHA’s newest ambassador – Sir Ranulph Fiennes spoke to us between talks arranged by World Expedition Speakers to discuss his early adventures, keeping fit at 72, and what’s next
It’s great to have you on board as an ambassador for YHA. When was the first time you stayed in a youth hostel? When I was 17 I was on a trip to Norway with the School Corps, but whereas most of the group had a train back to the UK, me and one other guy decided we’d hitchhike back from west Norway. We didn’t have much money and we discovered youth hostels then. It was £3 a night. It was very beneficial and made things possible. Also, because I’ve lived for 30 years or so in Exmoor National Park, we have a very good YHA in the village of Exford and I drive past that every single day and it’s always very, very busy. There are people from all over the world – it’s a good international thing. 12
Have you been to a YHA recently? When you’re training for mountains, it’s necessary not just to run along the roads – you need a bit of height, so every now and again I go to YHA Snowdon Pen y Pass and have a coffee, then go up the Pyg Track to the top of Snowdon. When you are a certain age you have to do it in a certain time. So if you are 70 you need to do it in 1.35 up, and 3.30 there and back. What were your formative outdoor experiences? When I came to the UK aged 12 (from South
Photo: Ian Parnell
Sir Ranulph Fiennes has led an extraordinary life. His countless expeditions have made him the first person to reach both poles, and the first to cross the Antarctic Ocean unsupported. He also led the team that discovered the lost Arabian city of Ubar, and has climbed the North Face of the Eiger with Kenton Cool. Now in his 70s, he’s continuing his adventures by aiming to become the only person to cross both polar ice caps and climb the highest mountain on every continent – all while raising money for Marie Curie.
One day we decided we would canoe from our local stream to the sea. That was a big thing aged 13
Africa) we moved to Sussex. We had a canoe, and one day decided that we would canoe to the sea from our local stream. After three miles we arrived in a river called the Rother, and we went down this as it got bigger and bigger until it went into another river, the Arun. It went through the South Downs and eventually ended up past Arundel Castle and we made it to the sea. That was a big thing aged 13. After all the adventures in your life, what’s been the single most thrilling? I think because we spent such a long time trying to find a lost city in Arabia [known as Ubar], when we eventually found it, that was big stuff. In 1968, I was out there with the army and a guide told me in passing, “Go that way, out there is the lost city of the Queen of Sheba – nobody knows where it is exactly.” And it was fascinating. So I told my fiancée, and she spoke Arabic and really liked the idea of finding it. The first time we looked for it was in 1968 and we eventually found it in 1992. And so over 25 to 26 years we did eight major Land Rover expeditions into the desert looking for it, so when we did find it, yes, it was a big deal. You’ve done many firsts – are there any left? There is one first left, polar-wise. There are
only two poles, up at the top and down at the bottom, and they’ve been done every which way, either by us or the Norwegians. There’s only one (variation) that hasn’t been done, and that’s to cross the Antarctic continent during the Polar winter. What’s your next trip? I’m doing something for Marie Curie, trying to tick off certain mountains which I haven’t yet done, which together make up a thing called the Global Reach Challenge, sponsored by TMF Group. It’s to become the first human to cross both ice caps, and climb the highest mountains on seven continents. I’ve done Everest, Kilimanjaro and Kosciuszko, and a couple of months ago climbed Mount Elbrus. How do you keep fit? To keep fit for the mountains, which I’m focused on at the moment, it would be a minimum of an hour’s jogging a day, with one session each week being at least two, but preferably three hours. And every morning, 25 minutes of 125 squats, 35 press-ups and a whole load of stretches. The older you get the more stretches you have to do! worldexpeditionspeakers.com 13
Stepping Out: Hostellers’ Q&A We spoke to three outdoor enthusiasts to get their thoughts on dorms, dinners and day-walks
Sally Pemberton Life member since age 12
Want to appear here in the next issue? Email your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org
Countryside, city or coast?
YHA Brecon Beacons, because of the lovely Fran. Last year we went twice – she was so welcoming that my kids became hooked on hostelling.
Earliest YHA memory?
Charlbury Hostel in my early teens. I remember shared chores, and being surprised that conversations between different ages were the norm.
Ideal overseas destination?
I’ve always wanted to visit Nepal. I am fascinated by what motivates mountaineers to attempt Everest and would love to write about it one day.
Perfect hostel dinner?
After a tiring day I want ‘elbows-on-table food’. Lasagne, chips and salad, followed by apple pie and custard would do. A little glass of wine is rather lovely too.
An item to pack?
A battery-powered stand-up lantern so we have exactly the amount of soft light that we want at bedtime.
A book for a rainy day?
Youth hostels, for me, mean countryside. If I can see green hills in each direction, then this is bliss. Add a gurgling stream and it’s heaven.
Winnie the Pooh, the original. He and his friends embrace chilly or rainy weather and never let it stop them exploring. Great advice for all of us! I used to live near Box Hill in Surrey: fields, forests and views combined with pubs, coffee shops and old friends. I’d always say a silent ‘thank you’ to the eccentric major buried upside-down on the hill.
Stepping Out: Hostellers’ Q&A Sarah Murphy
Manager at YHA South Downs
Young-at-heart hiker and hosteller
For me it’s coast. I’m learning to surf so anywhere near the sea is good for me, and who can argue with those amazing sunsets?
Countryside by a whisker, particularly the hilly bits. Though I do love wild, rocky coastlines too!
Am I allowed to say my own? South Downs is amazing, right on the South Downs Way which is perfect for those long walks and cycle rides.
I'm going to plump for YHA Borrowdale, which surprisingly I only discovered last spring!
Coming to my interview, walking into South Downs and thinking “I want to work here!”
A school geography field trip staying at YHA Eskdale in the mid-70s. It included the first of many ascents of Scafell Pike.
Where wouldn’t I want to go hostelling overseas?
Tough question - Greek island-hopping would have to be a contender.
I love chilli. It’s the only thing I can actually cook, and I’m very particular about it. No-one beats mine!
I keep it ultra-simple! Oatcakes, crackers, cheese and soup, for example. Oh, the odd fruit scone (my guilty pleasure).
Err, toothbrush? No one likes morning breath… can I say that?
I wear a button-type light on string around my neck for those night-time bathroom visits!
I read trashy books that don’t require me to think too much, but on a rainy day I'll watch a movie on my laptop – thank goodness for wifi!
Something by Bill Bryson perhaps, or a good guidebook.
Walking from YHA South Downs up Itford Hill on a good day – the views are amazing. If you have it in you, you can keep going for lunch at Alfriston.
The Snowdon Horseshoe really takes some beating.
Feature: Brecon Beacons
Widescreen Wales For big climbs, vast views and unspoilt wilderness, try this two-day hostel-to-hostel walk in the Brecon Beacons. By Daniel Neilson Nothing quite prepares you for the drama of the Brecon Beacons; not the photographs and not the guidebooks. Snowdonia and the Lake District might win in terms of mountain height, but the Brecons have an aspect utterly distinguished from anything else in Britain. The range rises slowly from the south then falls alarmingly into the valleys below, carved out over millennia by a geological tumult of glaciation and landfall. Walking along the edges of the highest peaks in the park makes for an exhilarating experience. On a clear day, when the views open up across Wales, it stirs the heart. The 16
route below leads between three of the four YHA hostels based within the National Park. The end result is two unforgettable but very different days of hiking. Heading east to west, the route begins at YHA Llangattock Mountain Bunkhouse and spends most of the first day following the Usk Valley Walk, allowing for a fairly easy day-hike as far as the wonderful YHA Brecon Beacons Danywenallt. The second day is more gruelling, crossing all the highest peaks in the park to finish at YHA Brecon Beacons. Canal kicks There are few more beautiful locations than
Feature: Brecon Beacons Top: YHA Brecon Beacons Danywenallt Bottom: YHA Llangattock Bunkhouse
that of YHA Llangattock Mountain Bunkhouse. It may be called a bunkhouse, but it’s a five-star one (literally, according to Visit Wales). It’s a cleverly converted barn with 30 single bunks in seven en-suite rooms, plus a lovely kitchen and dining area. It also takes its eco-credentials seriously, having been graded Gold by the Green Tourism Business Scheme and voted the Greenest Hostel/Bunkhouse in the UK in 2013. It’s an impressive building, but that’s nothing compared to the setting. It sits high on the hillside below the mass of Mynydd Llangatwg and the Llangattock escarpment, with huge views over the valley below and the Black Mountains.
On leaving the bunkhouse, you’ll need to head first to the village of Llangattock to pick up the Usk Valley Walk. There are different ways of doing this. We walked west along the footpath that passes in front of the bunkhouse, before hitting a track and descending briefly onto a lane and then down a little further to hit the Usk Valley Walk and the footbridge that crosses the canal. Then it was simply a matter of following the Usk Valley Walk. It’s a reasonably straightforward 13-kilometre (eight miles) hike all the way to YHA Brecon Beacons Danywenallt, often following the meandering canal towpath as it makes its way into Llangynidr. It’s an incredibly peaceful walk to the soundtrack of birdsong and the occasional putter of a barge passing along the canal. When we visited, autumn was just taking bite, the leaves were beginning to change colour, sun dappled through the trees and ripples in the canal reflected on the arches of the low bridges. At bridge number 138, a couple of kilometres after Llangynidr, the Usk Valley Walk leaves the serenity of the canal and climbs over the spur of Tor y Foel, before a final descent to YHA Brecon Beacons Danywenallt. High and (probably not) dry Now here’s breakfast with a view. Nab the best seat in the hostel dining room for a fry-up before the very long slog up onto the central Beacons. This is a long and arduous day of 18.6 kilometres (11.5 miles) and 1,196 metres of ascent, so start early and wrap up. It’s worth saying that this is a serious walk, and the ability to use a map and compass, plus mountain skills, is required to undertake it. The weather can turn from glorious sunshine continues overleaf 17
Feature: Brecon Beacons
to can’t-see-my-hands-in-front-of-my-face in seconds... as it did on our walk. The compass got plenty of use. The route starts by heading out of the hostel and crossing in front of Talybont Reservoir, then turning right towards Aber before turning left onto a lane and onto the footpath you’ll see marked ‘Twyn Du’ – the first destination of the (long) hike. It soon opens into a slightly flatter boggy area, but keep following the path roughly west and continue climbing. The path levels off briefly at a cairn, and in good weather you can see the daunting path ahead of you that zig zags up Craig y Fan. Take a breather at the summit and get your bearings, literally. 18
Pen Y Fan – the highest point in southern Britain – provides vast views that make you whoop with joy
The path now gets easier to follow, but the hazards get greater, namely the enormous drop off to the right, there almost until the end of the walk but offering thrilling views. Follow the clear path around to the summit of Fan y Big (being careful not to walk down the ridge at the end), instead continuing
Feature: Brecon Beacons Bottom: YHA Brecon Beacons
Access all ages Fifty-somethings Katherine Dixson and husband Ian rejoined YHA after a long gap and toured South Wales "At YHA Brecon Beacons Danywenallt, we soak up the view through the picture window, swallows darting in the dusk, as we eat our fish and chip supper and quaff Brecon Gold beer – unthinkable in the dry hostelling days of our own youth! Afterwards in the cosy beamed lounge of the former farmhouse we chat to a couple of French lads about our respective adventures. The easy cross-generational, international camaraderie reminds me of exchanging stories and advice in selfcatering kitchens decades ago. Some things don't change. west to Cribyn before reaching the high point of the day – indeed all of southern Britain – Pen y Fan. Chances are, no matter the weather, there will be people here taking pics (or, in our case, 20 DofE participants eating sandwiches) and admiring the kind of vast views that make you whoop with joy. From Pen y Fan, the main route heads directly southwest down the hill to the footbridge and the A470. The hostel from here is along the Taff Trail – head north alongside the road for a couple of kilometres until you see a sign to YHA Brecon Beacons, a 19th-century farmhouse that today does a mean hot chocolate and has mercifully comfy beds.
But some things do. After a short stroll by nearby Talybont reservoir, the gently rounded summits of the Brecon Beacons reflected in still water, birdsong the only soundtrack, we head for bed. Dormitory days are a distant memory for us: the privacy of a room of our own has become an essential. At Danywenallt, this comes with an en-suite to boot. Our private room at YHA Poppit Sands, with a million dollar vista over Cardigan Bay, rejoices in a double bed. At Pwll Deri comes the challenge of conquering the top bunk; a successful ascent surely proves hostelling's rejuvenating powers."
Feature: Hidden Hostels
Great YHA Hostels
You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of
Everyone loves a well-kept secret. This feature turns the focus away from those parts of the UK that routinely grab headlines and instead highlights hostels in some of the lesser known – but no less wonderful – corners of the country YHA Boscastle Harbourside cottage in North Cornwall
Much loved by those in the know, this National Trust-owned retreat sits in a fishing village in a quiet Cornish valley. The coastal hiking paths are a big part of the appeal, and it’s also well placed for surfing at nearby Trebarwirth Strand. yha.org.uk/hostel/boscastle
of the year they Hostels marked with are also available for Exclusive Hire. At certain times and stag dos – hen even or groups walking families, can be hired for private use by friends, details. more for rg.uk o ha. y -hire. and at a very reasonable price! See exclusive
Feature: Hidden Hostels
YHA Kettlewell Long-standing Yorkshire Dales hostel
YHA Coverack Country house with Cornish sea views
This village property has been part of the YHA portfolio for seven decades and still doubles as the local post office. Located a few miles north of Skipton, it serves as a great base for exploring the Dales – and stocks a good range of local beers too. yha.org.uk/hostel/kettlewell
Standing just eleven miles from Lizard Point, this clifftop country house gives a sweeping panorama over Cornwall’s dramatic southern coastline. Windsurfing, diving, boat hire and underground mine tours can all be arranged close by. yha.org.uk/hostel/coverack
YHA Cheddar Victorian house close to Cheddar Gorge
YHA Ennerdale Set in remote Lake District woodland
A charming Somerset hostel with the very real benefit of being just a few minutes from Cheddar Gorge. The gorge itself – subject of more cheesy jokes than you can possibly imagine – is also one of the best places in the Mendips for an activity break. yha.org.uk/hostel/cheddar
A converted forestry cottage surrounded by fells, ridges and Lakeland peaks, this small but well-formed hostel is perfectly placed for getting away from the crowds. it’s powered by off-grid hydro-electricity, and the lack of wifi makes it great for a digital detox. yha.org.uk/hostel/ennerdale
Feature: Hidden Hostels
YHA Medway Converted oast house in rural Kent
YHA Street Chalet-style bolthole near Glastonbury
Hostels don’t get much more rooted in local history than YHA Medway, a one-time oast house (used to dry hops) with sturdy old brickwork and exposed beams. It sits opposite Capstone Farm Country Park, and Chatham’s historic dock is also nearby. www.yha.org.uk/hostel/medway
This scenic corner of Somerset doesn’t just come alive at festival time – Glastonbury and its surrounding countryside are full of atmosphere at any season. All the more reason to visit YHA Street which, having welcomed travellers since 1931, is the oldest YHA still in use. www.yha.org.uk/hostel/street
YHA Tanners Hatch Eco-friendly retreat in the Surrey Hills
YHA Borth Steps away from Cardigan Bay in mid Wales
Interesting name, interesting place. It’s set in National Trust woodland in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with hiking and cycling trails on its doorstep; warm up afterwards by the fireplace. The hostel is closed from 9 January to 31 March for refurbishment. yha.org.uk/hostel/tanners-hatch
An Edwardian house situated just 20 metres from one of Cardigan Bay’s longest and most spectacular beaches, YHA Borth makes a brilliant base for enjoying an often-overlooked part of Wales. If you’re lucky, you may even spot dolphins and porpoises. www.yha.org.uk/hostel/borth
15 % D I S C O U N T FOR YHA MEMBERS, IN STORE AND ONLINE
F R E E G A I T A N A L Y S I S | E X P E R T A D V I C E | P R I C E M AT C H G U A R A N T E E
*Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount. Only valid on production of your YHA membership card in store or use of discount code online. Offer expires 31.12.16
Show some Mersey Liverpool has more pedigree than most when it comes to making an impact. Ben Lerwill visits a city that knows all about creativity I’m standing on a beach next to a naked man covered in barnacles. He’s facing the sea, gazing at the same waves which will, an hour or two from now, submerge him up to the nose. Looking along the coastline, I can see similar figures at random intervals, all rooted on the sands and staring out at the shipping channel. The tide might be coming in, but they’re going nowhere.
This is Antony Gormley’s extraordinary Another Place, a permanent art installation on Crosby Beach, just north of Liverpool. No less than 100 cast-iron sculptures of the artist are placed along a two-mile stretch of sand, each of them six foot two in height and eyeing the horizon. The overall effect is powerful. Liverpool takes its creativity seriously. It’s now eight years since the city was named European Capital of Culture, and almost three decades since it opened one of the only two Tate galleries outside of London. And no matter how you like your art and culture, the list of creative heavyweights to hail from the city is a long one.
The list of creative heavyweights to hail from the city is a long one
Among those names, of course, are four lads who exploded out of Merseyside to change the face of music. “This is the church hall where it all started – where John met Paul,” says Jay, my guide on the inevitably titled but rather wonderful Magical Mystery Tour around Liverpool’s main Beatles sites. We’ve seen the family homes of all four bandmates and stopped off at both Penny Lane and Strawberry Field, and we’ll be wrapping things up at the restored Cavern Club on Mathew Street. “I’m always getting into arguments about whether it’s the same club they played in,” laughs Jay. “It was filled in during the 1970s but it’s been rebuilt to the original plans, using the old bricks. It’s still special down there, that’s for sure.” He’s right – after I join the legions walking down the half-dozen flights of stairs that lead to the cellar space itself, it’s all too easy to imagine the place crammed with teenagers and twanging with early-60s guitars. This theme of regeneration is one that Liverpool has become comfortable with. continues overleaf
Four of the best free attractions in Liverpool Walker Art Gallery Home to one of England’s largest art collections, from Turner to Hockney Liverpool Anglican Cathedral Gothic revival architecture on a genuinely jaw-dropping scale Tate Liverpool Dockland gallery with a superb collection of contemporary works Museum of Liverpool Looking at everything from Liverpool’s industrial past to its inescapable accent
Feature: Liverpool There’s a buzz about today’s city. The waterfront, docks and city centre have evolved into upbeat, busy, attractive districts. Near the trio of grand Victorian buildings known as The Three Graces, the angular, modern Museum of Liverpool leads visitors through the city’s fluctuating fortunes over the centuries, while ten minutes’ walk away in the lively Ropewalks area, craft bars, record shops and galleries hum with custom. Even its most iconic stadium – home to the greatest art form of all, some locals would argue – has had a facelift. I join a tour of the club museum and gleaming new stand at Anfield, where the sense of pride in Liverpool FC’s achievements over the decades is still obsessive. “Think of the matches here over the years,” smiles Kevin, the tour leader, as we stand pitchside and stare across the cropped turf. “The noise on a big European night – there’s nothing like it.” Back in the centre the next day, I take a fiveminute walk from the hostel to visit Albert Dock, where Tate Liverpool has a crowddrawing new arrival of its own. Tracey Emin’s infamous “My Bed” is there in all its gritty glory until September 2017. Seen up close it’s an oddly compelling artwork, although the contrast with its handsome surroundings – gentrified Grade I-listed dockland – is strong. Today’s Liverpool is many things: arty, funny, bold, warm. And whisper it quietly to the lonely figures stranded out of town on Crosby Beach, but it’s a mighty fine city-break destination too.
Tips from the top Iain Blair, manager at YHA Liverpool, shares inside advice (he's the Santa on the right!) “Come along for the Santa Dash on Sunday December 4th, an annual competition between Liverpool and Las Vegas to get the most Santas out running the streets!” “For the view, pop in for a brew to the 3rd floor café at John Lewis and nab a window seat to enjoy the waterfront panorama.” “Try the Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich from the Baltic Bake House, round the corner from the hostel. It’s saved my life on a few occasions!” “Throw yourself into Liverpool’s famous nightlife. It was listed third in Rough Guides’ “50 things to do before you die”. Seal Street is a great option.”
Liverpool is well connected by rail. Get more for your money by using a National Railcard: the 16-25 Railcard, the Two Together Railcard and the Family & Friends Railcard all cost just £30, giving big annual savings. YHA members receive 10% off. For more information, or to purchase a railcard, visit www.railcard.co.uk 26
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C YC L E S U R G E RY. C O M
How to: Stay safe
Skills for outdoor living
… stay warm and safe in winter Keeping warm sounds straightforward, but it’s easy to go wrong. Here are the essentials for enjoying the outdoors in winter. Layer up. Layering is the most versatile way of staying warm. At its basic, this requires a baselayer (merino is good in winter), a midlayer such as a fleece, an insulated jacket and a waterproof jacket. If it’s really cold, long johns are good too. Go on shorter walks first and find out what works for you. You should also take at least two pairs of gloves (one inner pair), a hat, and maybe gaiters. Keep hydrated. It’s often hard to remember to keep drinking when it’s cold. Water is perfect for rehydration, of course, and if you’re carrying a flask, hot fruit squash is the most hydrating option – although for short winter walks nothing beats a flask of tea. Happy feet. Always take thick socks (and a spare pair) plus a good pair of walking boots. Many boots have a waterproof lining which is good for snowy conditions. For serious walking in snow 28
and ice you’ll need crampons and cramponcompatible boots, but you can also get good ice-grippers for boots for lower level winter walks too. Be prepared. It’s a good idea to use a bigger backpack in winter. Not only will you need more fuel (and a flask of tea) but on serious walks you can include a multi-person group shelter, as well as essentials like a first aid kit and head torch (with spare batteries). On clear days in the snow, suncream and sunglasses are important too. Ticklist ✓ Rucksack ✓ Emergency bivouac bag ✓ Waterproof jacket and trousers ✓ Map and compass ✓ Headlamp plus spare batteries ✓ Walking boots ✓ Gaiters ✓ Drink, food, snacks (plus extra food) ✓ Whistle ✓ First aid kit ✓ Hat and two pairs of gloves ✓ Spare dry warm layer ✓ Sunglasses and sunscreen (in snow)
How to: Navigate
...take a compass bearing There’s more to reading a compass than finding north. Taking a bearing is an essential skill for walking, especially in winter when the night can descend quickly or the weather can turn. If you’re in the fog, for example, this is the tool to get home. You do, however, need to know where you are and where you want to get to. It’s best that you break your route down into smaller sections to alleviate the chance of wandering off-course. It takes practice, so try it out first somewhere you know well, picking features off the map. 1.
… stay fuelled These no-bake energy balls are perfect for winter walking. They can be made from almost anything you have in your cupboard, but dates are perfect for binding them together. You can also coat them in all sorts of stuff, for example desiccated coconut, ground almonds or cocoa powder. Sweet chilli energy balls For those of you that like a bit of bite
1. On the map, line the left edge of your compass so that it runs from your location to your destination, with the direction-of-travel arrow at the top of the compass pointing towards your destination on the map. 2. Without moving the compass, carefully turn the bezel (the twisty bit!) so the ‘N’ on the bezel points to the top of the map, and the lines in the compass housing are parallel with the lines on the map heading north-south. To be really accurate, twist the bezel anti-clockwise a further two degrees to make grid north match magnetic north. 3. Without moving the bezel, stand up and hold the compass in front of you, turning around until the compass needle matches with the north arrow in the compass housing (usually a red arrow). 4. Look up following the direction-of-travel arrow, find a natural feature (a tree, for example) that lines up and head towards it, ensuring that the compass needle is still aligned with the north arrow in the compass housing. 5. Once you reach the natural feature, take another compass bearing, pick another feature and repeat.
Ingredients 5 dates - finely chopped 2 tbs of pistachio nuts roughly chopped 2 tbs mixed nuts - finely chopped (we used peanuts, almonds and walnuts) 1 tbs sweet chilli sauce - or to taste A small handful of pretzels, crushed to a rough dust, to coat the balls Method 1. Put all the dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl and squish them together, mixing thoroughly. 2. A dd the chilli sauce. 3. Put in the fridge for 30 mins to set. 4. R oll the mixture into about five small balls. 5. Drop the balls into the pretzel mix and roll them around to coat.
Gear: Cool stuff
KEEN A-phlex Shoes New from Oregon-based outfitters KEEN, these sturdy, versatile shoes are intended “for the trail or the city”. They’re attractive, comfortable to wear and have hightraction rubber soles. Available in low or mid options. keenfootwear.com
Hi Gear Packlite Alpinist Jacket Packing down to compact pillow-size, this lightweight bit of kit from Go Outdoors is in fact a hooded down jacket. It’s warm, crucially, and a durable water-repellent finish is a further selling point. Thumbs up. gooutdoors.co.uk
Rab Power Stretch Pro Hoody This is a high-quality, winter-weight fleece hoodie designed for use as a mid-layer. It uses Polartec® Power Stretch® fabric, meaning it retains heat without restricting movement. Looks great when it’s on, too. rab.equipment
North Ridge Men’s Merino Convect LSZ Top Baselayers are crucial for winter walking, and this one comes recommended. Made from 100% merino wool, it’s soft, warming and can be worn as naturally on the sofa as on the hills. Also comes in slate-brick colour. gooutdoors.co.uk
Salomon Wayfarer Mountain Pant Fast-drying, double-weave fabric makes these a great pair of trousers for technical hiking and climbing. They’re close-fitting and reinforced at the seat and knees, with an elasticated waistband and two zipped pockets. salomon.com
Mammut Washbag Roomy Fed up with shower gel leaking all over your toothbrush? Mammut’s aptly named Roomy spells an end to cramped washbags – features include a mirror, a hook, three zipped compartments and six open compartments. mammut.ch
CHJGD UltraCompact A portable charger with the bark to match its bite, rating highly for reliability and capacity (it gives almost four iPhone charges). It’s compatible with all smartphones and comes in five designs – we love the bulldog. chargedpower.com
Lowe Alpine AT Kit Bag 60 Tough and stylish, this 60-litre duffel bag is perfect for weekends away. It’s big on capacity and has three grab handles, as well as heavy-duty buckles and a stashable harness, meaning it can be worn as a backpack. lowealpine.com 31
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WIN! One of three Hydro Flasks! We have fantastic Hydro Flasks to give away to three lucky winners. We have a 21oz Standard Mouth bottle worth £24, a 16oz Coffee Mug with flip lid worth £22, and a 32oz Wide Mouth bottle worth £35. Keep cold drinks icy cold for 24 hours and hot drinks piping hot for six. For your chance to win, just answer the question below. Winners will be picked at random. What is the most northerly Youth Hostel in England? (clue: there's a map on page 32)
Answers to: email@example.com by December 31st. Feel free to share your thoughts (positive or otherwise!) on this magazine at the same time – is there anything you particularly enjoy about it, or would like to see changed?
Drying Room: Readers’ pics This pic sums up our week-long YHA Welsh experience – sand, sea, mountains and outdoor fun. James Drury (james-drury.com)
Sunset at YHA Broad Haven. Harriette Mullen
YHA Honister Hause: how’s that for a room with a view? Supercosmic
We’d love to see your photos of hostel stays. Share them on Twitter #LiveMoreYHA or email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
@karmeh81 #LakeDistrict #NotJustLakes @ YHAOfficial @YHA_ Lakes Had an amazing time at YHA Black Sail!
@TriciaNicholas1 @YHAOfficial just spent a lovely 5 days at YHA Sheringham - great food and my boys loved meeting new friends
@FthflJohannes @YHAOfficial Helvellyn. I'm the kind of guy who bagsies the BOTTOM bunk.
@2feet1world How amazing is the setting for @yhaofficial in Pen-yPass?!
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@PhilBattison Arrived @ YHAOfficial in Beer just outside of Exeter - what a fab location - off to find a beer in beer and watch sun go down.
Name the British cities
Drying Room: Celebrity Q&A
WIN! A ÂŁ190 down jacket! Weâ€™ve jumbled up the letters of five different British cities, all in the YHA network and all home to great Christmas markets. Worked out what they are? Drop us a line at email@example.com by December 31st to be in with a chance of winning.
DESEL RETCHMEANS DR FOOX RYKO
Photo: Visit York
FA D F R I C
To enter simply send us an email with your five answers. The lucky winner will be drawn at random. Answers to: firstname.lastname@example.org by December 31st. Please feel free to share your thoughts (positive or otherwise!) on this magazine at the same time. Is there anything you particularly enjoy about it, or would like to see changed? North Ridge Nord down jackets
About the prize We have down jackets to give away to two lucky winners. The North Ridge Nord, available for men and women, is exclusive to GO Outdoors. It is a high performance warm winter jacket using water resistant hydrophobic goose down for maximum warmth in winter weather. Winners will be picked at random. Congratulations to Amy Wells, who won an amazing Airgo Solus Horizon 6-man tent, and John Walls and Melanie Joy who each won a pair of Bogs wellies in the last issue... 39
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*Offer valid on production of your discount voucher or YHA membership in store, or discount code online. You can download your discount voucher and online code as well as view all the T’s and C’s within the YHA member benefit section of www.yha.org.uk. A Go Outdoors Discount Card is required. Discount Cards are available in store and online for just £5 per year. If you have any questions please call us on 0330 008 1555, or email us at email@example.com