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One of a pioneering era

Len Clark 1916-2019 A friend introduced Len Clark to youth hostels and walking in the countryside. Len remembered him as an amiable and rather romantic communist who took him to the Surrey Hills. They spent a night at the newly built youth hostel at Holmbury St Mary in 1937 and began Len’s interest in youth... Continue Reading →

How hostels began

On 26 August 1909, while on a walking tour from Altena with pupils, a violent storm fired the imagination of Richard Schirrmann, a school teacher who loved taking his pupils on walking holidays. When accommodation he had arranged for the night fell through, Schirrmann headed with his group to the small town of Bröl, where... Continue Reading →

Magic travels

In the summer of 1929, seven young friends from Liverpool went to Germany. They went to find out about youth hostels. The journey worked magic and changed their lives. One started a youth hostel organisation for Britain and introduced the term youth hostel for these radical new places to stay, and another became one of... Continue Reading →

Principles, discovery and magic

Youth hostels were always magical, dreaming but practical places, run by locals but accommodating guests from far away places. They required generous spirits, and hard work, of the people who ran them and a willingness to welcome visitors from anywhere. They have always been international, places where the world and young people met. I’ve always... Continue Reading →

Changing youth hostel democracy

Heading to London on a weekend set to be one of the hottest on record seemed to be a mistake, or an act of stupidity. Especially as it meant leaving my home in the lovely Derbyshire Dales, a garden that needed watering and that wanted to be sat in, under a shady umbrella, accompanied by... Continue Reading →

Street – Britain’s oldest

I first went to Street youth hostel nearly 40 years ago, for an interview for the job of manager, or warden as we were called then. When I was offered the job at Steps Bridge, in Devon, I went there instead.  I loved the time I spent at Steps Bridge but, ironically, it's no longer... Continue Reading →

Castle Hedingham

Self help and an Essex village The story of the youth hostel at Castle Hedingham, and how it came about, is a story of self sufficiency and self-help, typical of early pioneering youth hostels. In a village on the Essex border in pretty countryside, for those who liked cycling on lanes and quiet by-ways, Castle... Continue Reading →

Youth hostel values

Youth hostels conquered the world. When travel was beyond the pockets of many and impossible for many young women, even if they could afford it, youth hostels opened the world. Youth hostels taught the world to travel, to journey, not to have a holiday, not to tour, but to travel using your own resources. Youth... Continue Reading →

Escape the past

Youth hostels have grown up. Once you wouldn’t have spoken of hostels without calling them old fashioned and out of date. Now hostels have thrown off their shackles and appeared afresh and new. I love the way a new generation has discovered the idea. You can read a contemporary take on youth hostels below, where... Continue Reading →

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