Careful with the independents. I was in one in a Northern Scots town in May. Decent hostel, smelled a bit ripe but OK central location etc. Then incame a German or Eastern European couple and shared the same bunk together for the next two nights and days. every time any one went in the room they were doing what most of us at that age did but in private. Not good for some one of my age, as "she who must be obeyed" commented when I told her She reckons it gives us false hopes and ambitions that are beyond our years. On the same trip in another hostel in Northern Scotland a crowd of drunks came in at 020 and suitably roused every one for the next two hours. I don't know how much was drink and how much was bravado but it put me off the independent hostels.
I have to admit that even as a 'youth' the YHA are fairly unappealing - I get the impression that they used to be slightly more expensive than a campsite and rather more comfortable but still fairly basic, whereas these days they're setting themselves up as slightly cheaper than B&B but rather less nice - particularly since I'm normally travelling with my grilf and wouldn't mind getting a double room to share rather than each being stuck in a seperate dorm with a bunch of randoms. It kind of pains me to say this, because part of the reason that their network is becoming sparse (and notice also that outside of the most obvious areas, they're now becoming so few and far between that even cycling between them is an iffy proposition - basically, it's all about families turning up in cars rather than backpacking students) and expensive is presumably falling visitor numbers, but they just aren't particularly useful to me.
They have got some lovely buildings (Coniston, Buttermere) in lovely locations (Pen Y Pas), though. And from what I've heard the SYHA are a lot better (plus they have Loch Ossian hostel, which looks fantastic.)
I'm vaguely reminded of a comment from one of the Douglas Adams books: "and we don't sell to penniless hitch hikers. What a stupid notion that was! Find the one section of the market that, more or less by definition, doesn't have any money, and try and sell to it. No. We sell to the affluent business traveller and his vacationing wife."
Speaking of camping barns, there's an excessively nice one by Thirlmere - it could easily pass for a bunkhouse and charge a lot more, given that they provide you not only with bunk beds (big solid ones, too - much nicer than the poxy YHA things), but with duvets and hot water bottles too!
if you are looking for a campsite in and around Brecon, i agree that Pencelli is nice (having just come back from there with kids) but you might like to try this place as well......
on the subject of YHA, is Capel-y-ffin still open or did it close?
That looks a stunning site, Martin.
Do you use it a lot?
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