My friend and I hiked in from the Bowness Knott car park by Ennerdale Waters. The walk was lovely, longish (about 6.5 miles), but easy along a forestry road and then track. There are other more challenging routes, so make sure you know which way you are going and be appropriately prepared (this is a very remote location - you need hiking boots, raincoats ect). There is no road access to the hostel. The wardens do have a jeep, but you cannot drive to the hostel.
The hostel formally opens at 5, although the common room is open during the day. The hostel houses 12 people plus the warden/s. I was in a 4 person dorm, made up of two bunk beds. It was nice and warm, with clean linens and a firm mattress. There is one female toilet and one male toilet - both clean, but you do have to go outside to reach them. There is one shower - again clean, and with hot water (low pressure), and as with the toilets, you have to go outside to get to it. The common room is very nice. It is lovely and warm with a wood burning stove and lots of places to dry your clothes. It is also the dining room, and has lots of board games to choose from.
We ordered dinner in advance, with a choice of 2 or 3 course dinner. We had two vegetarian curries with rice and there was also a chicken curry. There was a tasty stodgy chocolate pudding with custard for pudding. The meals were prepared by the warden, and were reasonably priced. We were politely asked to help with washing up, which most people pitched in with and it got done very quickly. There were lots of snacks, drinks and alcohol on sale in the little kiosk. I think you could also get toiletries, and possibly hire a towel (although check that if it's important to you). There is also a self catering kitchen, where you can make hot drinks and could also prepare your own food if you don't mind carrying it to the hostel.
Most people in the hostel had an early night, so it was pretty easy to get to sleep. The next morning, I was able to hear people talking through the walls quite loudly, so you might want to bring earplugs if you're coming with a rowdier lot.
Breakfast was great. Porridge, cereal, juice and a cooked breakfast. The only thing we had to do was prepare our own tea and toast.
While we were there, the wardens were a couple. They were both very nice and check in and out was no problem.
This is a beautiful hostel, that I have long wanted to stay at. I'd highly recommend staying there, but definitely book in advance as it's on a popular hiking route. When I was there, it was mid week, raining and was still full. Do be prepared for its remote location and be sure to inform the hostel if you are not going to arrive, so they don't send out the search parties.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Location, location, location. YHA Black Sail has it. Remote and accessible only on foot, it’s a rural retreat that lovers of the great outdoors can normally only dream about. Located in a traffic-free valley that is being returned to a ‘wild’ state, it’s as tranquil as a stay in the Lakes gets. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- YHA Black Sail Ennerdale Bridge, Cumbria