Child friendly hostel, Lake District & Cumbria – Derwentwater Lakeside Hostel, Barrow House, near Keswick
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About Derwentwater Hostel
The location, views and scenery are just out of this world and being only 2 miles from Keswick, the main tourist centre in the Northern Lakes, makes this a great base for a holiday in the Lakes.
Derwentwater Independent Hostel is a fabulous independently-run hostel with stunning lakeside views. This elegant Grade II listed Georgian house overlooking Derwent Water, surrounded by dramatic mountains and boasting a waterfall within its grounds, really couldn't improve on its location. You can choose whether you want to sit down to delicious home cooked food or prepare your own in the well-equipped self-catering kitchen. The hostel has lots of space for relaxing and enjoying family moments together including a lounge, a games room, a table tennis room and a large grass area with football goal posts. With friendly knowledgeable staff, nutritious home made food, laundry facilities, lots of space to run around, an orienteering course, indoor red squirrel trail and a good family atmosphere, it is a superb spot for a family break.
A fantastic, historic building right on the shore of Derwent Water. And the views.... well you can't get much better than this. Many say this is the most picturesque lake in Britain, and the hostel has a waterfall in the grounds which powers the hostel's hydro-turbine. The lake itself will keep you occupied for days - children can paddle, while the more adventurous can take part in a wide variety of water sports. Or catch the launch nearby and stop off at any of the six jetties to explore the shoreline. There is also a selection of spectacular walks to suit all levels.
The Hostel Bedrooms
For sleeping arrangements there is on offer comfortable bunk bed accommodation consisting of 9 rooms with 4-8 beds in each, a room for 10 and even a very grand 22 bed room, good for groups of families staying together. My family stayed in room 9 which had three bunk beds sleeping 6. There was bags of space and the room overlooked the waterfall. You have to make up your beds on arrival but all bedding is provided for you. Adjacent was a toilet and washbowl which seemed to be only used by the occupants of room 9. The washrooms/showers are shared facilities and we found them spotless and hot water aplenty. The front of the property enjoys those fabulous lakeside views and room 6 has a prime location. Wi-Fi is provided free of charge but can be a bit hit or miss depending on your location within the hostel. The best hot spot was near reception. Travel cots and highchairs can be provided. Please note there are no lifts within this period property so for families located on the first floor who travel with a lot of baby paraphernalia you may just need to ask the friendly staff for help transporting your belongings.
Pricing for family rooms is from £60 is for a 3 person family in winter and up to £108 is for a 6 person family in summer.
Food and Drink
On our first night of arrival we knew we may arrive too late to order a meal so we took our own food and had the opportunity to prepare it in the self catering kitchen. With 3 ovens, 2 microwaves, a toaster 3 fridges and a freezer there was all the cooking utensils you could possibly need. The self catering kitchen can seat around 20 and can get very busy at peak times. For our second night we had the luxury of ordering from the a la carte menu and were served some wholesome home cooked food which went down a treat. My fussy teenage daughter even took it upon herself to thank the chef, she was that impressed. Meal times are 7.30 to 9.00am for breakfast and 6.00pm or 7.00pm for the evening meal. A main course for adults cost you £8.50 and the children’s menu was a reasonable £5 for a two course meal if they were under ten. You can also order a hearty packed lunch which will satisfy most walkers' appetites. Chocolate treats and crisps can be bought from reception.
Around the hostel we found many snug places to relax and chill out in. The main lounge had an open log fire going for the nights that were a little chilly. Families were happily sat around playing board games, cards or enjoying the local brew or glass of wine. Next door to the lounge is a games room with pool & table football and yet more comfy sofas. There is also a separate table tennis room ideal for family knock out competitions. The snug TV room was the perfect place for the kids to chill out in at the end of a busy day on the hills. The hostel certainly had plenty of room inside and out for children to play and make friends and it would be totally awesome if you had the weather to sit out on the terrace and soak in those views. If you happen to be unlucky and get caught in a down pour then you will be pleased to know the hostel has a large drying room with washing machine and tumble dryer. An orienteering course is also available in the grounds.
After fifty years of direct YHA ownership, the hostel is today managed by Kathy Morris and Dave Piercy for a charitable not-for-profit company. The hostel remains committed to giving young people affordable access to the open spaces of Borrowdale, combined with the spirit of adventure and community which the hostel offers to all. This is most definitely a memorable venue for family get-togethers and celebrations.
Location and things to do
Derwentwater Independent Hostel is located on the eastern side of the lake Derwent Water, about 150 metres south of the Ashness Jetty, on the Borrowdale Road. There is a bus stop at the bottom of the driveway, serviced by the 78 bus which takes just a 7-minute bus journey into the thriving town of Keswick.
There’s plenty to do in the area from taking the toddlers to play and explore the lake shore to more adventurous activities locally for the older ones - climbing, gorge scrambling and abseiling in Borrowdale, mountain bike courses and Go Ape at Whinlatter Forest, water sports on the lake. You must take the family for a walk up Cat Bells - plenty of other memorable low and high level walks. The boat trip on Derwent Water is highly recommended - you can combine it with a walk around the Lake. Inspirational scenery everywhere! Other local attractions include Honister Slate Mine, Cumberland Pencil Museum, Osprey viewpoint at Bassenthwaite, Mirehouse - grounds are great for families, Theatre by the Lake, Puzzling Place.
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