“ Address: Cat Crag / Ennerdale / Cleator / Cumbria / CA23 3AX / England „
Best Youth Hostel we have stayed in. Great warden, great food, great atmosphere, clean, bright, magic location. Nothing but praise.
I have just returned from Ennerdale YHA ( Cat Crag ) not balck sailIt is the best YHA i have stayed in, previously 2 woodmans cottages they have been tastefully retored to provide, modern bright accommodation. all the bedding , beds etc were new There is a comfortable spacious lounge area and outside a veranda where you can sit and watch the black cows that have been re introduced onto the fellsthe food was good, not much choice , a vegetarian and a meat dish ,but this was adequate, Lisa is the receptionist, cook, etc she deserves a pat on the back. all produce are either grown on site or locally sourced, well worth a visit
Ennerdale Youth Hostel has changed. Not only has it been completely and very tastefully refurbished, it has actually changed location. The YHA Ennerdale I visited in 1989 is now a field and study centre, and the new Ennerdale is just up the road. So, when I visited last summer, you could say I didn't get what I was expecting.
The Youth Hostel Association have ingeniously converted two former Forestry Commission houses to create a welcoming and comfortable stopover in one of England's most remote valleys, which is surrounded by the most breathtaking scenery.
------The building -----
Entrance hall/boot and cloakroom
As you enter the hostel, there is a small, boot rack and cloakroom, which you must use in order to keep the hostel in its currently pristine condition.
Here you can check in, order meals or packed lunches for the following day, grab a snack, select a bottle of beer or wine to accompany your meal and also book a bed ahead with the ever helpful wardens (four of them share the running of this hostel with Black Sail Hut hostel 4 miles down the road). This is the place where you also have to pay your bill and sadly say goodbye when you eventually tear yourself away.
Here you can prepare your own food, should you not want to relish the tasty, organic locally-sourced meals that are on offer at the hostel. We were invited to use what we needed from the kitchen to make ourselves a drink if we wanted one. Everything for tea and coffee was provided but anything other than that we had to buy.
Plenty of recycling and composting facilities are available as the warden's are extremely green - but not literally, you understand.
This is the main, but very bijou, room of the hostel. It acts as the sitting and dining room which also doubles up as a games and reading room outside mealtimes - with plenty of resources at your disposal. From here you have an amazing view of the Ennerdale valley and can watch a variety of wildlife and birds of prey while you enjoy your meal.
From the dining room you can gain access to the bedrooms (2 six-bedded and 3 four bedded rooms), shower facilities and drying room. There is also a small verandah and BBQ area at the back of the hostel where you can sit and enjoy the sunset over a beer and a burger, but in summer remember your midge repellent!
When we stayed we relished a two course meal of shepherd's pie and local veg followed by apple crumble and gallons of custard. There was a vegetarian alternative and a fruit salad option. You can't be fussy with your food here. There's one warden doing the cooking usually and she did a fantastic job in my opinion.
Breakfast was deliciously filling, and consisted of cereals, full English, toast and croissants served with juice, tea and coffee.
I can't comment on the picnic lunches as we didn't order one. They comprised of a sandwich, crisps, fruit, flapjack or similar homebake, a carton of juice and a biscuit. The bumper lunches had an extra sandwich. Sandwich choices were tuna, cheese, or ham with a variety of extras such as mayo, pickle, tomato or cucumber.
Five of us stayed in a six bedded room (3 bunk beds) and I'm pleased to say everything was brand new, fresh and clean. There was sufficient under bunk storage for our clothes and rucksacks and there was a sink, light and shaver socket in an alcove. Each bed has its own reading light and the new mattresses were very comfortable. A roller blind at the window meant there were no curtains to harbour dust mites which, as an asthmatic, I appreciated. The best part of this room was the amazing views of the valley and mountains. For safety, you are given a key for family rooms.
Shower and toilet facilities
There were two showers and a separate toilet on our landing although there are other facilities on the other side of the house. All of them were exceptionally clean. In fact I would go as far as to say that these would take the cleanest facilities award for the thirty or so hostels I've stayed in.
There was plenty of space to get changed in the shower cubicle, lashings of hot water and the ever popular light/fan sensor so there was no forgetting to switch the light off.
While I'm talking about electricity, let me tell you that Ennerdale produce their own electricity from a hydro-electric turbine. Brilliant!
We didn't actually need this on our stay because it was our final night and we headed home the next morning. But I popped my head round the door and it was a good size for the 24 people who might all want to use it, with plenty of racks and rails for all your wet clothes and boots. There were no laundry facilities however.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind before you book this hostel. If you're travelling as an individual you will be in a dorm with up to 5 complete strangers, so you have to be willing to share snoring space!
Also, as there is only one main 'common room' if you take an instant dislike to Tatiana and Eustace who are loudly bragging about their conquest of Everest, then there's not many other places to go, apart from the verandah - no good if it's raining- or your bunk, where you might have to listen to someone already snoring.
We booked a family room which suited us down to the ground and there was no one staying there that particular evening who you'd want to escape from. We were all so tired from our walk from Great Gable that day that we were in bed by 9.30 anyway. Most people are tucked up in bed by 10.30 if they've got a challenging day ahead.
The warden let us park our car in the grounds on Saturday, do our four day YHA tour and come back to it on Tuesday. Amazingly, it was still there! I thought this was very generous in these mean-spirited days we seem to be living in.
On the Tuesday of our planned return we got lost on Great Gable in low cloud and effectively lost 3 hours trying to find the path down to Black Sail Hut and Ennerdale beyond.
We eventually found our way down to Black Sail and arrived there as tea was fast approaching, in fact you could see everyone in the Hut having a beer and relaxing. We still had four miles to walk and tea was going to be on the table at 7 - just over an hour to go! The warden of Black Sail topped up our water bottles and radioed ahead to let his colleague at Ennerdale know we hadn't been stranded on a mountain and were, indeed, wanting our shepherd's pie.
Yet another stunning act of kindness. Do these wardens know no bounds in their generosity?
The visitors' book in the entrance of Ennerdale says it all. As you read through the comments, it's clear that everyone who signed the book will have happy, lasting memories of the place and I can truly vouch for that.
"But where is it, how much does it cost and how do I book it?"I hear you screaming at me.
Cumbria, CA23 3AX
GPS OS 89 (142141)
Phone 0870 770 5820 (sorry it's one of those numbers -it's the only one I have)
It's a long way from the nearest railway station at Whitehaven- 16 miles to be exact.
If you're walking, there are three other hostels nearby:
Buttermere is 3 miles away, Black Sail 4 miles and Honister Hause (spelt that way, honestly) is 7 miles.
By car the information from the website says:
On A66 from Keswick, turn off at Cockermouth onto A5086.
Turn off left at Lamplugh, passing Lamplugh church, then left passing Inglenook Caravan Park.
Continue to reach a T junction at the hamlet of Croasdale.
Turn left here into Croasdale, and follow the road right.
We followed these instructions and had a few close shaves with oncoming vehicles on the tiny lanes, but hey, you've got to have a few thrills once in a while. And it's a bit easier than arriving by bus.
If you want to arrive by bus, the nearest bus service is a 2.5 hour, yes hour, walk away in Buttermere village over Red Pike (that's a mini mountain by the way) or through Scarth Gap. Either way you'll need a good pair of walking boots.
We booked a family room for £70.00 for the night. This was room only.
Current prices for individuals are 13.95 for an adult and 10.50 for under 18s. YHA members get £3 a night discount for adults and £1.50 for under 18s. You can become a member by logging onto www.yha.org.uk and this costs about £22 a year which almost paid for itself for us in two nights. Our second year membership only cost £15.95 as they gave us a loyalty discount on that.
You can also rent the whole building for 24 people for 2 nights for £525 between November and March.
YHA membership offers discounts in a lot of local attractions in the Lake District at least. Steamers and ferries, Pencil museum and the Climbing wall in Keswick all take the YHA card. I've also had 10% discount in Blacks Outdoor shops too. But, hey I digress!
I would say that it's best to book by phone. I've tried the website, but have always felt a human will give me a better deal that a machine somehow. Is it just me? When you speak to the warden you can also give him or her any food requirements or if you have any individual dietary needs you can sort them out too.
Overall, I think Ennerdale Youth Hostel is the best hostel I've stayed in for tranquillity, location and customer service. I would recommend it for individuals and families alike and urge you to get yer boots on, get out there and breathe it all in. It works for me!
More info on this hostel
Wild Ennerdale http://www.wildennerdale.co.uk/
Information about the lake http://www.visitcumbria.com/wc/ennerdal.htm
Two refurbished forestry cottages in a remote wooded valley surrounded by fells, ridges and many famous peaks. Its on the Coast-to-Coast walk, Sculpture Trail and the Ennerdale to Whitehaven cycle path.