First opened as a Youth Hostel in 1939, Elterwater Hostel has a long history of welcoming guests and providing a comfortable bed in the heart of the Lake District. However the building itself dates back even longer, a converted barn first built at the end of the 17th Century.
During the Second World War the Hostel was used as accommodation for workers of Shorts of Sunderland, who were involved in building flying boats on lake Windermere. Bernard King, son of the first wardens of the hostel, remembers the times:
“things were a bit primitive there then, and when the the water froze in the winter, or ran out in the summer, the men living with us had to go down to the river to wash and shave … There was no electricity in the Hostel and we used candles to go to bed with and paraffin lamps in the main rooms”
Fortunately, things have progressed a little since then here at Elterwater!
In 2013, when the YHA announced their decision to sell the property and close down the hostel there was widespread disappointment amongst hostellers and the local community alike. At the time the MP for Westmoreland and Lonsdale was quoted as saying “if you can’t make a decent go of a Youth Hostel there, by God you’re not trying very hard”.
The Thomas family, long time lovers of the Langdales, and Elterwater in particular, were able to successfully bid for the property, and decided to maintain a hostel on the site, forming a new company, Elterwater Independent Hostel Ltd, and taking on the Hostel’s existing staff.
The new business initially invested in some essential structural repairs, necessary to ensure the long-term health of the building, including strengthening the roof and replacement of the unisex showers, as well as a sprucing up of the interior décor, facilities and gardens and adding WIFI in the public areas.
While there will be no drastic alterations, it is hoped that free from YHA control, the hostel will be able to adopt policies to maximise it’s potential, adapt to the needs of the market, and, crucially, re-invest profits. This will aid redevelopment and improvements so that, in the long term, Elterwater Hostel will continue to provide quality, affordable accommodation in the heart of the Lake District.