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Skiddaw House YHA, Bassenthwaite, Keswick, Cumbria
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Skiddaw House YHA, Bassenthwaite, Keswick, CumbriaWelcome to the highest hostel in Britain - 470 metres up on a high pass in the northern Lake District, only accessible on foot or (at a pinch) by bicycle. Skiddaw House is an isolated 200-year-old former shooting lodge and sometime shepherds bothy. Its campsite, a two-minute walk away, is diminutive in the extreme - a tiny patch of grass inside the ruins of what may have been a stable (no one really knows). However, the walls, such as they are, do give a bit of protection from the wind. Happily they don't block out the views, though, which are astonishing. Campers can enjoy an uninterrupted gawp all the way down a long valley jealously guarded by the hills of Great Calva and Blencathra.The nearest neighbours are over two miles away, which explains why Skiddaw House is off-grid. Electricity comes from a generator, cooking gas from cylinders, and water arrives straight off the fell (you should boil it, really, but lots of people don't).

Inside the hostel there's a lounge with a piano, library, and a stock of board games; while a large kitchen/diner sports an eclectic collection of cooking utensils and, the piece de resistance, three different Daniel O'Donnell mugs, including the rare 'On Tour' number. If Daniel did ever make it here he'd have come along one of three branches of the Cumbria Way - from the road near Bassenthwaite (3 miles - passing Britain's best-named trio of hills: Little Cockup, Cockup, and Great Cockup), the car park near Applethwaite (3 miles), or Nether Row (8 miles). You choose - getting here's part of the fun.

COOL FACTOR No mobile signal - the definition of heaven in the 21st century.

WHO'S IN? Tents, big groups, young groups - yes. Campervans, caravans, dogs - no.

ON SITE There's a maximum of 30 campers allowed, but it's unlikely that's ever been reached. Campers can use the rustic hostel loos (1W, 1M), excitingly drafty shower, and kitchen/dining room. There are board games in the lounge and a library that includes children's books. No freezer or fridge, but there is a cool room. A shop sells basic foodstuffs, mainly in tins. Unfortunately the hostel is closed between 10am and 5pm. No campfires allowed.

OFF SITE Walking and mountain biking are the orders of the day here. You can head off along the Cumbria Way (www.thecumbriaway.info) in 3 directions (the route splits here), though some of the cycling is quite tough going south. The delights of Keswick are a 6%-mile hike/pedal away.

FOOD AND DRINK Although there are no pubs within easy striking range of Skiddaw, the Horse and Farrier (01768 779688) atThrelkeld, and the Sun Inn (01768 776439) in Bassenthwaite are worth stopping off at on the way in or out. Market days in Keswick are Thursday and Saturday.

GETTING THERE Don't use the postcode in your satnav or Google Map - both will take you to Peter House Farm, 3 miles away. The OS grid reference for Skiddaw House is NY 287 291 - follow the red diamonds of the Cumbria Way to the hostel.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Train to Penrith then Stagecoach bus no. X4 or X5 to Threlkeld (5 miles) or Keswick (6 miles). Walking boots at the ready for the rest of the journey.

OPEN March-October.

THE DAMAGE £7 per person, per night (plus £1.50 for non-YHA members).



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