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    23 Before Tea fell running record broken again

    6th June 2022

    After just nine months, the record for the 23 Before Tea fell running challenge has fallen again.

    Richard Bolton completed the 23-summit circuit, starting and ending here at Elterwater Hostel, in 12 hours and 18 minutes, beating Paul Wilson’s October 2021 effort by 23 minutes.

    The circuit, taking in 23 Wainwright peaks in a continuous loop, climbing nearly 17,000 feet, from Elterwater, was originally conceived by the owners of Elterwater Hostel as a shorter, possibly more achievable, homage to Paul Tierney’s record-breaking Wainwright round in 2019. They used the map of Paul’s Wainwrights’ route (devised by Steve Birkinshaw, the previous record holder), placing the hostel at the centre, to find a circular route which could be done in a day, and be back in time for tea.

    The first to complete the round was Little Dave Cummins, in a time of 14 hours and 50 minutes, before Paul Wilson (chairman of the Bob Graham Club) took a whopping 2 hours and 9 minutes off the time last year.

    Richard, based in Warrington and a member of Pennine Fell Runners, had intended to do a Paddy Buckley Round, Snowdonia’s fell-running challenge, on the double Bank Holiday weekend. But a series of niggling injuries led to cancellation of those plans. “But I was still keen to do a good challenging round.  I’d seen the 23 Before Tea article in The Fellrunner magazine the previous year and knew that Paul Wilson – whom I’d met a few years ago on Bob Graham support duties – had completed it last year.”

    Record-breaker Richard

    The weather looked favourable, so he set off just after 5am on the Saturday, on a still clear morning that promised to turn into a hot day. Richard says: “It’s a really fantastic route that kicks off with the minor tops of Black Fell and Holme Fell, both of which I’d visited only once before while mopping-up remaining Wainwrights a while back.  From there, the pull-ups get bigger onto the well-trodden Coniston, Langdale and Fairfield ranges.

    “There’s lots of climbing!  The direct, and very steep, route up to Loft Crag from behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll, was new to me, as was the brilliant descent off Silver Howe into Grasmere.

    “Although I’d stashed some supplies at Langdale and Grasmere, I was running on empty by Fairfield and pretty much melting in the late afternoon sun by the time I dropped down into Rydal.

    “I really recommend the route, another great addition to the mid-distance Lakeland routes, a great fitness test ahead of one of the big rounds, and a great day out in the fells.”

    Elterwater Hostel have offered a free two-night stay to anyone who can break the record, and Christine Thomas, one of the hostel owners, said: “We are delighted that runners are now taking on this challenge, and absolutely thrilled that Richard has set a new record. We’re looking forward to hosting Richard when he takes up his free nights with us – he’s definitely earned them!

    “If anyone else wants to have a go let us know and we’ll have a cup of tea, or a pint, ready when you finish.”

    For more information call 015394 37245 or see

    Richard’s split times:

    Elterwater Hostel
    Black Fell 00:38
    Holme Fell 01:21
    Wetherlam 02:30
    Swirl How 02:52
    Great Carrs 02:56
    3 Shires 03:11
    Cold Pike 03:42
    Pike o Blisco 04:04
    Lingmoor 04:56
    ODG 05:26
    Loft Crag 06:19
    Pike o Stickle 06:24
    Harrison Stickle 06:40
    Pavey Ark 06:51
    Thunacar Knott 06:58
    Sergeant Man 07:14
    Blea Rigg 07:34
    Silver How 08:07
    Grasmere 08:29
    Seat Sandal 09:31
    Fairfield 10:00
    Great Rigg 10:12
    Stone Arthur 10:25
    Heron Pike 10:56
    Nab Scar 11:05
    Rydal 11:23
    Loughrigg 11:58
    Elterwater hostel 12:18




    All in a Winter’s Work

    26th April 2022

    With Spring well embedded and Easter in the past, I am reflecting on everything we achieved over the winter here at Elterwater Hostel. As well as a range of groups, catered and self-catered, we managed what might be our final phase of the post-YHA refurb; we revamped the self-catering kitchen. In early May this year I will have been here for 30 years. The kitchen was old when I started! We have fitted new work-surfaces, sinks and shelving and have added a third fridge. Along with a fresh coat of paint, it looks fabulous and, we hope, works better too! Sam Martin’s mural still holds pride of place on the end wall and we only await the delivery of a small island unit to finish it off.

    In addition to this, we have replaced all our sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases. New, crisp, white linen now awaits you. Our YHA remnant bedding has gone on to a new life with the Brathay Trust in their hostel accommodation. Added to this we have lovely new thermal lined curtains in our bedrooms and have replaced the chairs (again, an elderly YHA relic). Each room now has new chairs and stools (which can double as an occasional table) and I have to say, the rooms are looking great!  The old chairs went to an allotment so the plot holders could sit and admire their growing veggies and to be outside seating at a roadside ice cream stall.

    New brown leather sofas have replaced our worn previous ones in the lounge and we now await the arrival of new, thermal lined curtains in the lounge and on the stairways to complete a busy winter of improvements. The curtains were funded in part with a grant from the Lake District Foundation and is part of our journey to Zero Carbon (we’ve still got a long way to go, but each journey starts with a single step, and we have taken quite a few up until now!).

    In a few of the minutes there’s been to sit down, we’ve engaged in a project to assess and hopefully reduce our waste. We’ve got Roxy, a Cumbria University student, working on a project funded by ECO-I and we’re having to remember to weigh bin bags as they head for the wheelie bin!

    If anyone thinks winter is ‘down-time’ in the hostel world, pop round one Wednesday in December and catch us up a ladder, tape measure in hand, pouring over regulations on fire-retardancy, or nursing sore knees after three days crawling around the floor with sandpaper and a pot of varnish!

    Thanks to ERDF, Northern Powerhouse, Lake District Foundation, Low Carbon Lake District and ECO-I for the support.

    Back to the day job 😉

    Nick Owen (Manager)

    Getting Ready for Winter Mountain Adventures

    20th November 2021

    One of my (now not so secret) lock-down guilty secrets is a weird enjoyment of really bad horror films. You know, the ones where victims end up running through the woods in the dark with no light and manage not to run in to any number of trees or trip down a rabbit hole, despite the pitch-black darkness. If only they’d had a decent torch…

    So with that obtuse introduction, on to the matter in hand… we are now well in to the time of year when it’s darker longer than it’s light, cold more often than not and wetter than the pocket of the proverbial otter and occasionally snow and/or ice covered. Andy’s night-time bike riding highlights just some of the hazards of venturing out after dark. Or more likely becoming caught out by darkness when your plans go awry.

    If we follow the #beadventuresmart messaging then we have a good guide to the extra precautions we need to take

    Know what the weather is doing… check a reliable forecast. The Mountain Weather Information Service is a good one and covers other regions as well. Weatherline: Daily Lake District mountain weather forecast is also excellent and includes an assessment of conditions by real humans who walk up Hellvellyn almost every day of the winter season.

    Have you got the right gear… waterproof jacket and trousers, decent footwear, and if it’s likely to snow or freeze then crampons as well (or at least shoe grippers). An ice axe is also essential for negotiating frozen ground. Warm clothing, and a spare jacket, and some kind of shelter eg a bothy bag or survival bag. A headtorch plus a spare is essential. The torch on your phone is not adequate (poor light, handheld, and with the battery already hammered by a day’s use for all the other things you’ll have done with it).

    Have you got the skills…  can you navigate well enough? Old school map and compass is recommended again because your multi-function phone will have had its battery depleted. Are you fit enough (and all your party members) for the planned days activities? Can you walk, climb in crampons, and use an ice-axe? Winter skills courses are available via a number of providers including Weatherline, who offer winter skills courses on Helvellyn, and Icicle, as well as navigation courses. All involve days out on the mountain with skilled professionals which will be fun as well as provide valuable skills.

    For further safety advice you can browse AdventureSmartUK where you’ll find advice on many other activities both summer and winter, for both land and water.

    Winter really is a fabulous time to enjoy our hills and mountains, takes a little extra thought and care, but can provide you with some breath-taking days that you’ll remember for a long time.

    – Nick

    Night Cycling Adventures

    20th November 2021

    After my last day of the season working I was desperate to get out for a quick spin and some fresh air. I decided to go out over Loughrigg Terrace in the dark. It’s often busy with walkers during the day so I don’t do it much on the bike.

    I couldn’t find my bike-lights so I strapped every head-torch I had to my bike making it look like a 1980s Rally car and off I went up the hill. By the time I got to the terrace my lights were pointing every way but forward so I had a quick adjustment and set off again.

    A relatively tame descent was made interesting by torchlight and the shadows cast and within a couple of minutes I arrived safely (.. ish) at Rydal Cave.
    I then dropped down to Rydal and along to Grasmere where I was treated to a firework display somewhere in the village. I’m afraid my photo doesn’t do it any justice. 😂

    A short climb up through Red Bank Woods, hoping for a deer or red squirrel to wander into my oddly angled light beams, then it was back down to the hostel.

    Next time I will tackle something more adventurous and be better prepared.

    There are loads of routes you can do from the hostel and you don’t need to wait till it gets dark….and remember be careful. No road users, animals or even walkers were harmed or blinded during this ride.

    For more info on routes, speak to any of the staff here at the Hostel, or check out the Fat Tyres website with has some good suggestions

    Cheers and have a nice winter!



    – Andy

    Great Outdoors Awards – Best Hostel Nomination

    20th November 2021

    What an honour even to be nominated!

    We were shocked, but pleasantly surprised, to see ourselves listed in the nominations for the Hostel or Bunkhouse of the year category in the Great Outdoors Awards 2021.

    The stress of managing a small business through the pandemic is really not what we had in mind all those years ago when we made the YHA an offer to rescue their Hostel at Elterwater. It’s been such a difficult time for everyone and there have been moments where we’ve discussed giving up, closing the business and selling the hostel. So to see our name listed here, alongside Hostel’s and other nominees from which we’ve taken inspiration along our journey, feels really special and makes all the hard work feel worthwhile.

    We’ve always tried to make the Hostel a home away from home, a place where we feel comfortable and where we’d like to spend time, but as much as we can add our touches as owners, it is our team who really make the difference, and are celebrated by this nomination. Nick, Charlie and Andy each bring their own elements to keep things running smoothly, and each has been essential to helping us build a reputation for friendly service, excellent local knowledge and delicious home cooked meals. We owe the team a huge thank you, and a congratulations, this nomination is really for them.

    It is extra special to us to see our close neighbours at the Britannia Inn, and at Chester’s Cafe also nominated – there can’t be many places in the country that can boast a closer concentration of nominees per square mile as Elterwater (with just 200 yards door to door between us and the Brit!)

    Both Chesters and the Britannia fully deserve their nominations, and are important staples whenever we’re able to get a group of friends together at the Hostel. We not only tend to start the weekend with a late pint at the Brit, but many of my the city-dwelling friends only consent to the hike over Lingmoor based on the promise of the three P’s (pints, pie and pudding) at the Brit for the survivors! We round the weekend off with a gentle stroll to Chester’s, via Colwith Force, for a healthy Sunday snack (or chocolate brownie!) before everyone heads home. To see these two favourites, which we consistently recommend to our guests, nominated alongside us makes our own nomination feel even more special.

    There are only a few days left to vote in the Great Outdoors awards, and we’d really appreciate a vote not just for Elterwater Hostel, but for Elterwater, Landgale, and the Lake District more broadly, with votes for our friends and neighbours at Chesters and at the Britannia too. You can find the full list of nominees here


    – Adrian




    Carbon Footprint Calculations

    19th November 2021

    At Elterwater, we have always been mindful of our place in the environment and our duty to protect and preserve the environment around us. We’ve always supported local conservation initiatives, such as Fix the Fells, but we’ve also been putting a lot of thought and effort in behind the scenes to reduce our carbon footprint too.

    Surrounded by nature,  and within the Lake District National Park which is so conspicuously targeting net zero, the importance of our efforts to go green are constantly at the forefront of our work. This, alongside the effects of climate change being felt increasingly close to home, with severe weather events occurring more and more frequently, our location serves as a constant reminder on our doorstep of just how much is at stake and how all of us have a role to play.

    It was seven years ago in 2014, continuing the work started by Manager Nick under the YHA, that our efforts were recognised with a Green Tourism Silver Award. Three years later we were awarded the prestigious Gold Award and we have continued along our green journey ever since.

    The goal posts, methods of calculating carbon emissions and accepted standard requirements for best practice have all shifted dramatically since we first started calculating our output, using the now defunct Green Tourism Carbon Calculator. Back in 2014 we calculated that that our net CO2 Emissions were just over 56 tonnes for the year or 9.10Kg per bed night. By the end of 2018 using the same method of calculation, our output was down to just over 38 tonnes despite increased occupancy, with the figure per bed-night down to 5.66Kg.

    We know now that three years ago when we were congratulating ourselves on our efforts, they weren’t even scratching the surface. The Calculator we now use to monitor our progress is the one provided by Cumbria Action for Sustainability. This updated calculator is much broader than the previous one and includes the CO2 on purchases such as banking, insurance and telephone calls as well as greater detail on food and drink products purchased and any associated waste. As a result, our calculations for 2020 – when we were closed for a large part of the year – show that our total emissions remained around 38 tonnes, even though our consumption of the main carbon contributors (electricity and oil) were dramatically reduced to about 40% of previous levels.

    Calculating and publishing our stats in this way is no small feat and involved several hours on the phone to our laundry and waste companies, asking difficult questions and learning about washing loads and Refuse Derived Fuel (a technology that diverts waste from landfill). This process is integral however in producing a more accurate representation of our carbon output and showing us how much further we have to go. Importantly, it also allows us to benchmark, track our progress and remain accountable, confident that our efforts are making a difference.

    Our commitment to continue to reduce our footprint remains strong with plans to:

    • Replace curtains with new thermal efficient alternatives and recycle or dispose of old fabric waste responsibly
    • Further monitor food miles in our catering
    • Compost food scraps
    • Further reduce waste
    • Replace appliances with more energy efficient versions as needed
    • Investigate alternative sources of energy – solar and air source
    • Continue transparency and open dialogue re our carbon footprint and efforts to reduce it

    We have also considered carbon offsetting but are hesitant due to current discussions around its usefulness, its propensity to shift the burden of action to other nations and its potential to allow a ‘business as usual’ mindset precedent.

    How can you help

    We are genuinely open to each and every suggestion regarding how we can reduce our footprint. It’s wonderful when our guests are as passionate and interested in this as we are, so please keep your ideas coming.

    One of the lightbulb moments of completing the calculator this year was the effect of the many visits from the directors, which we are ashamed to say amounted to not much short of a tonne. So perhaps the biggest impact is from our visitors themselves and their travel to get here.

    We would like your thoughts on whether the following would influence your stay and the impact on the environment:

    • Discounts for longer stays
    • Subsidies for arriving on public transport or by foot
    • A link to a website where you could calculate and offset the carbon generated by your journey Cumbria Action for Sustainability Calculator

    Thank you for being part of this journey with us. Here’s to continued learning and minimising our impact so we can continue to enjoy our corner of the world’s beauty and contribute as much as we can to a liveable future.

    Christine and the Elterwater Hostel team

    Mixing Bowls and Tiger Wellies

    18th November 2021

    It’s that time of year again – the end of season lost property sort out.

    If you have ever left something behind at a hostel, you are by no means alone. I’ve done it myself – a lovel­­­­­­­­y big Pyrex mixing bowl at Salcombe Youth Hostel about 30 years ago, and yes, I’m still kicking myself. By the end of the season, we generally have a little collection of items. We do of course attempt to reunite valuable items with their owner. This year we had a little ring, found by a guest in reception. It was not of great value, but on inspection, the sort of thing that might have been given as an engagement ring in the 50s or 60s. We scratched our heads, as nobody had reported it missing and we contacted guests who had left the day before. We assumed that the ones still with us would have asked, but just to be thorough, we did mention it. To the delight of the young owner who had thought it lost on the hill, we were able to reunite her with the 21st birthday present from her mother, her grandmother’s engagement ring.

    On another occasion, a guest did report her missing watch, but search high and low, we couldn’t find it.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ We did keep her details though and months later, a young man staying in a school group unearthed it, squeezed between sections of the bedframe, and the watch was returned unscathed.

    We do however, get rather a lot of clothing and random items left in the drying room or down the sides of mattresses and we rely on guests to contact us. If it’s an odd sock or yesterday’s underpants, I’m afraid they are likely to go straight in the bin, but other things are retained in case we are contacted. We are very happy to put them in the mail for you, though we do ask for postage, or we can put them aside for collection on your next visit to the Lakes. We have some splendid yellow tiger wellies to be picked up this week.

    And, what happens to the rest of it? Well, we certainly don’t want to add to landfill. About this time of year, when the hostel is quieter and the drying room less busy, I have a good sort through, clean and wash everything and deliver it to the local Oxfam shop for a second lease of life. So, if you have left anything at our hostel, please be assured that at least your unintentional contribution will be appreciated.

    I wonder whether that mixing bowl is still in the hostel kitchen at Salcombe and how many cakes, salads, breads, burgers… have been prepared in it over the years. I hope it came to good use.

    – Charlie

    Paul sets new record for 23 before Tea

    25th October 2021

    WE were delighted when ultra-runner and holder of records Paul Wilson announced he was going to tackle the 23 before Tea challenge on the fells around Elterwater. Here’s his account of how he broke the record on Thursday October 14:

    “I first heard about this challenge last year when Dave Cumins ran the route to celebrate his 50th birthday. Dave has done a lot of fell running in the Lake District and if he thought that this route was worth running then it must be good.

    On the summit of Pike o Blisco

    Dave had come up with a 12-hour schedule which had been posted on the hostel’s website so I used that as a guide. I’d decided to run the route solo and unsupported, so that I didn’t need to organise any support and could enjoy a day out on the fells running alone.

    To make sure I got back at a decent time I set off at 5am. Even so, due to limited daylight at this time of year, it meant running the first two fells in the dark, and it only got light as I started ascending Wetherlam.

    The first half of the route is fairly tough going then, once you get up onto the Langdale Pikes, it’s fast running down to Grasmere. Then comes a big ascent up Seat Sandal then Fairfield before descending again to Rydal. After which there’s only one fell left, Loughrigg, which makes for quite interesting route finding as you get near the top as there’s paths going in all directions.

    I made it back to the hostel in 12 hrs 41 mins. I had an ace day out on the fells and really enjoyed the route.

    My summit times were

    Black Fell  42m

    Holme Fell 1hr 33m

    Wetherlam 2hrs 44m

    Swirl How 3hrs 08m

    Great Carrs 3hrs 13m

    Cold Pike 4hrs 00m

    Pike o Blisco 4hrs 23m

    Lingmoor 5hrs 18m

    Loft Crag 6hrs 35m

    Pike o Stickle 6hrs 43m

    Harrison Stickle 6hrs 57m

    Pavey Ark 7hrs 08m

    Thunacar Knott 7hrs 13m

    Sergeant Man 7hrs 29m

    Blea Rigg 7hrs 55m

    Silver How 8hrs 21m

    Seat Sandal 9hrs 47m

    Fairfield 10hrs 18m

    Great Rigg 10hrs 30m

    Stone Arthur 10hrs 42m

    Heron Pike 11hrs 09m

    Nab Scar 11hrs 20m

    Loughrigg 12 hrs 21m

    Elterwater hostel 12 hrs 41m ”

    Back in time for tea!

    Congratulations to Paul, and we look forward to many others now having a go at the route. We also think it’s possible to break into two or three sections, for walkers or less speedy runners, who want to come back and stay at the hostel overnight in between. Let us know if you’re coming to have a go; there will be a brew and some home-made flapjack at the finish.



    The Bottom Bunk Club

    8th August 2021

    A few years ago, in response to enquiries from some of our older guests who no longer wanted to climb up ladders to get on the top bunk we set up what has affectionately become known as the bottom bunk club.

    This is not an age-related offer, but……

    It is aimed at those groups who are happy to share a room but fight to avoid the bed ladder.

    So here’s the deal. Get together a group of at least ten people, and the whole hostel can be yours for a mid-week break (Monday to Thursday) between November  and March  (excluding February Half Term 21st-25th February).

    You need to book a minimum of two nights, but we’re offering a great bargain: bed, breakfast and evening meal for just £44 per person per night ( minimum £88). That’s with sole use of the hostel for your party…and no bunk ladders to climb.

    Great for people of all ages

    Our rooms (11 in total) are small , so it’s just three to share at most. There are good hot showers and a great drying room if you are back from a day on the hills and the cosy sitting and dining area for scrabble, reading, knitting or parlour games, if you prefer to stay ‘home’ for dinner you might be offered homemade steak pie or mushroom stroganoff, followed by Nick’s fabulous sticky toffee pudding; and the next morning there will be a Cumbrian full cooked breakfast available.

    So, whatever your age, however your group is made up, book the Bottom Bunk Club for a great deal. Call us on 01539437245 or email for more details.

    Out and About in Nature

    3rd August 2021

    Where can I go for a walk and have a swim as well? 

    This is a question we are often asked

    “This is the Lake District – the answer is in the question!” we reply

    “No, somewhere quiet I mean”

    Well here are a couple of Andy’s favourites:



    Of course we can’t give the location away here … you will have to come and ask or go for an explore yourself!!

    Nick tells us Good things come to those who wait, or right place, right time…

     Despite the comings and goings of a few thousand people each year, our garden and neighbourhood provide plenty of opportunity for the observant/lucky to spot some of our native wildlife 

    Pipistrelle bats are regular summer evening visitors and can consume 3000 midges every day (OK by me!). Daubenton’s bats can be seen skimming the water for insects under the bridge in the village. We are happy to loan out our bat detector for people to go out at dusk and look for them. A late night, fleeting glimpse of an otter was a delight a few years ago.

    Occasional hedgehogs, badgers and foxes have been spotted, but more often heard and not seen. Also often heard are all three common owl species, Barn, Tawny and Little. Amongst the larger birds it’s common to see and hear buzzards (with their distinctive “kew” call) and herons, with their stunning eyes. They love the damp ground around us for catching amphibians 

    Other regularly spotted birds include Jays, Woodpeckers, long-tailed, blue, great and coal tits. We have nuthatches frequently adopting their head-down feeding stance on our bird feeders. We’ve had blackcaps make use of one of our nesting boxes 

    Amongst the lizards and amphibians, our garden seems to provide a suitable environment for slowworms and common lizards, along with frogs and toads that gravitate to the draft that must pass under our drying room door. It’s not unknown to have to escort a frog or toad back in to the garden when it’s ventured in to the hostel though an open door 

    Roe Deer occasionally venture in to the wooded area behind the hostel but are very shy. 

    We have occasional visits from grey squirrels, but are delighted when we get a rare visit from our native red. The woodland between here and Grasmere is a stronghold for them.

    We love to see your reports of wildlife sightings on our designated notice board in reception so keep your eyes peeled and let us know what you spot!




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