Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Bruton Family Holiday 2008: Northumberland. Part 1: Introductions & general observations

If you have no interest just ignore the blog for a couple of days as I work my way through the backlog of photos and writing about the holiday.

We didn't get a holiday last year, seeing as we were poor from moving up to Yorkshire in October 2006. But this year we took a friend's advice and went Youth Hosteling in Northumberland for a week.

The difference with this holiday is that we've decided to forego our usual holiday routine and try something new. For many years we always used to head out to a holiday cottage for a week. It was the perfect way to holiday with Molly when she was younger, giving us the flexibility to do what we wanted whilst having somewhere comfortable and homely for the inevitable evenings in.

But now that she's older, we're able to stay out later and have nightimes again where all three of us are out. So we reasoned we just didn't need the expense of a cottage for evenings that we wouldn't be there. The die was finally cast when friends came up to Yorkshire and borrowed Molly to stay at youth hostels in York, Scarborough and Whitby. These certainly weren't the youth hostels of my experience. They were clean, simple and in the case of Whitby, positively pallatial. If it's good enough for Molly thinks we, then it's certainly good enough for us. of course, one draw back to this new breed of Youth Hostel is that the prices are noo longer tiny. But you do get a nicer holiday experience, your own family room and the security of a locked door for your possessions. But the prices for a week are still roughly half the cost of a holiday cottage so we figured it was worth a try.

And if you're wondering why we didn't just go the all out cheap route and try camping.... well, Louise doesn't really do camping. There's never been the question that we'd even try. Lets just leave it at that!

And overall, the impression we got from Youth Hostelling around Northern England? Well, for a start there really don't appear to be that many youths using youth hostels anymore. Lots of older people, quite a few foreign folks, a lot of families (particularly middle class families looking to not have a beach holiday) but very few young folk apart from the children being dragged along by their parents. Maybe city hostels would be different?

Also very obvious that I was in a minority of one when it came to staying up late in youth hostels. Every single night Louise and I were up till 11/12 and then I may have stayed up another hour or so writing. But no-one else was. In fact most people seem to go to bed at 10 at youth hostels.

Overall I can heartily recommend it for you. They're all clean and welcoming. Some are better than others, some have nicer/bigger rooms and better facilities, but they all share that one wonderful thing: far, far cheaper than anything else with a family.

Okay, on with the holiday blog......

The plan for the holiday then was simple. Travel up, break the journey in Durham and then head to three youth hostels, two nights each. First was Wooler, the most northerly hostel in England. Then on to Kielder, possibly the remotest in England and then on to Once Brewed for the delights of Hadrian's Wall.

Day 1- Durham,
Day 2 - Angel Of The North,
Day 3 & 4 - Wooler,
Day 5 & 6 - Kielder
Day 5 - Kielder Labyrinth
Day 5 - Kielder Skyspace
Day 6 - Kielder; Mapping & Mirage
Day 7 & 8 - Once Brewed

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