April 10th saw the Mount Hooley Bunkhouse become part of the YHA network as on that day it entered into a franchise arrangement with the YHA who will publicise it and have the hostel listed on all of their publications. At the ceremony Lord Joicey of the College Valley Estates welcomed the invited delegates from a host of organisations, including obviously the PWA who were represented by Trevor Hardy our Vice President and Bill Gallon, and informed them of the numerous improvements that had been made to the property.
These included new toilets, of which one they have made available to passing walkers, an excellent family room, and a very well fitted kitchen and dining room complete with log fire Mount Hooley was originally a shepherds cottage and is magnificently situated at the head of the College Valley under The Schill and West Hill with the Henhole nearby. There are 24 beds with one family room of four beds, one room with two beds which can be used for leaders when groups are present and two rooms each accommodating nine people. There is a cycle store, BBQ, new showers,new drying room and car parking plus a shop as the nearest is eleven miles away. Horse riding can be organised and meals are available if booked in advance. For bird enthusiasts there is the opportunity of seeing black grouse from the hide in the wood a few metres south of the buildings.
Visitors were able to inspect the whole set up and all were impressed. Forget your images of bunkhouses, this is very comfortable accommodation!
Lord Joicey was followed by Simon Ainley the YHA Regional Manager for Yorkshire and the North East who welcomed the bunkhouse into the YHA family. and wished it every success in the future. The hostel is ran as an independent bunkhouse and with Wooler, Greenhead, Alston and Byrness all operating along similar lines Northumberland is now served by more hostels than before the mass closures of 2005/6!
The hostel should serve as an ideal base for those wanting quick access deep into the Cheviots as well as Pennine Way walkers. It is only half a mile off the PW and is infinitely more comfortable than staying in the shelter near The Schill after a long walk from Byrness.
The hostel is open every day with prices from £12 per night and their phone number is 01668 216358 or the Manager can be contacted by email on firstname.lastname@example.org. This hostel is only four miles from the St Cuthbert’s Way and visitors are permitted to use the road to Mount Hooley free of charge.