Winter brings no respite for hostel staff at Elterwater. The hostel is busy with group bookings most weekends, but during the week our multi-tasking Charlie Spiller lends a hand to the National Trust.
There’s a close connection between the NT and hostels in the Lakes, and Charlie has been out and about doing her regular stint as a volunteer for 35 years.
Her latest job was with a group of like-minded volunteers planting 4000 new trees near Hawkshead to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Trust’s working holiday programme. News of this programme was reported in the Westmorland Gazette here
Charlie has been involved with working holidays for nearly 35 years, and not just in the Lakes. Last week she was in Kent to help deliver training for new leaders of the programme – and to cook them some delicious food for the weekend. Maybe her vegan brownies will be appearing at the hostel next season.
Back in the Lakes, this winter Charlie is helping the National Trust with another project. The restored Coniston steam boat Gondola requires some care and attention, and each winter it is taken out of the lake and placed in a giant cradle covered in a specially constructed tent.
All the fixtures and fittings and the steam engine itself are stripped out and the everything is sanded, painted, greased and varnished ready to be relaunched in gleaming splendour in March. It’s a long task. “This week’s job is re-glossing the cabin roof, a four man – well the rest of them are men – task so that the paint dries in one beautiful seamless expanse,” said Charlie.
So when Gondola is re-launched in the spring, why not come to the Hostel and visit Coniston to sail on her, perhaps to visit Ruskin’s house at Brantwood, or follow in the footsteps of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons. You could just relax and soak up the beauty of the Coniston fells as you glide across the lake in Victorian spendour. And of course you can check out Charlie’s paintwork.