Closure of Crowden Hostel (Except for Large Groups)

It was with both a measure of surprise and disappontment that the members of the Executive of the PWA learnt of the forthcoming closure of the YHA hostel at Crowden in its current form on March 31st 2014.

Indeed it was only when former Secretary Peter Stott tried to reserve a room for a stay next Spring that we , or anyone else as far as we can ascertain, were aware of the situation. Subsequent investigation by both Peter and Chris Sainty revealed from the YHA that a decision and mutual agreement had been reached with Rotherham Council to close the hostel as a functioning youth hostel and all matters relating to the hostel would be handled in future by the owners Rotherham Council. This was confirmed by Mr Colin Gratton-Rayson who is the Outdoor Learning Youth Work Manager for Rotherham Council. Mr Rayson stated that the hostel would be available for bookings by groups. The definition of a group is not at the moment clear but is believed to be not less than ten people per group. Crowden had been operating as what is known as an Enterprise Hostel and the status of these is reviewed on a periodic basis.

To say that this change is a disappointment is an understatement as anyone who has walked over from Edale, even on a good weather day will appreciate, as accommodation hereabouts is very limited. What is of more interest is the covert way the whole process regarding the change has been, with no known news appearing in the press or from the organisations concerned and no information in the outdoor press. This is a major cause of disappointment as there appears to have been no consultation whatsoever.

As it happens Chris Sainty had made a reservation at Crowden some tine ago and he has now received contact from the YHA that his booking has been transferred to the Old House at Glossop. It is obvious that this change will cause difficulties for Pennine Way walkers and it is to be hoped that facilities will become available in the Glossop area as an opportunity exists here for an enterprising organisation.

The situation is to be discussed at the Executive Meeting of the PWA which is being held next Saturday (Nov 16th 2013) at Leeds. The venue is the Friends Meeting House, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds commencing at 1.00 pm and a further report will be made on this website following the meeting.

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14 Responses to Closure of Crowden Hostel (Except for Large Groups)

  1. Mike says:

    I received the following response when I enquired in October:-

    Thanks for your enquiry about 2014. I am afraid that in line with the below statement, we will not be able to accommodate your booking.

    “It has been mutually agreed between YHA and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council that the operation at Crowden YHA (Crowden Outdoor Education Centre) currently operated under a joint management agreement will pass back to the sole management of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council from the 31st March 2014. This is a positive move for both organisations which will see the centre continuing to offer a high quality service and facility to groups business only.

    Bookings for stays taking place up to the 31st March 2014 will continue to be taken through the YHA contact centre, online and via the hostel directly for all our customers including families and individual guests.”

    The team at Crowden are sorry that we can not accommodate you, we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

    If you are looking for our nearest YHA neighbour, you can find Edale and Manchester are the closest hostels. If you are walking the Pennine Way, or cycling the Trans Pennine Cycleway, and looking for alternative accommodation en route in the Crowden area, the Old House B&B and bunkhouse might be able to accommodate you (01457 857527).

    Thanks for your continued support of the YHA. We hope that you find alternative accommodation within the network. Please visit the YHA website (, or call the contact centre (0800 0191 700) for further assistance.

  2. Andy Cheney says:

    Having walked the Pennine Way both ways, i find it unbelievable that this YHA will shortly be no longer available to walkers and cyclists etc. The northern end of the Peak District will be left with little or no accommodation for those of us who are on limited budgets.

  3. chris lennie says:

    It is a real pity that this hostel is closed to individuals and small groups of walkers. There are severely limited options for an overnight stay in this location and I can see this closure having a negative impact on the number of people who wish to walk the PW (or cycle/walk the TPT).
    This was a good hostel with friendly staff. It’s sad news that this facility has gone.

  4. Miker says:

    Whilst walking the PW last month I saw that Alston Youth Hostel is up for sale although it looks like they want it to be sold as a self managed hostel. If it can’t be sold as a self managed hostel then I guess that it will not be as dramatic as Crowden closing, because there are a number of alternatives in Alston, but it will still be another YHA hostel lost to the Pennine Way.

  5. arthur says:

    We’re looking at walking the PW. This news has indeed put us off. My understanding is that this accomodation was the only one available at the end of the first day? Is this correct? If so then we’ll abandon plans now.

  6. Nigel Easton says:

    This is another sad piece of news for the Pennine Way and especially for those planning to walk it.

    I was fortunate to walk the PW in the late 1980’s when there was a string of youth hostels along the route with only a few isolated places where alternative accommodation such as B&B or camping had to be arranged. Part of the appeal of the walk was staying in the youth hostels each night and exchanging stories with fellow PW walkers. A camararderie developed between like minded people.

    Particularly charming were the remote hostels that were perhaps operating as ‘marginal’ businesses for YHA in the economic sense but which were subsidised by more profitable hostels in more glamorous or famous places.

    But it seems like in a more cost-conscious, money orientated world in the last 20 years YHA has sought to streamline its ‘business’ and the first casualty have been these sorts of hostels.

    It feels as though in its quest for profit/value the YHA has lost the connection with and respect to its origins and principles and while claiming itself to be an outdoor organization that allows people on limited budgets to explore the country the reality is fringe none money-spinning pursuits like the Pennine Way are no longer important.

    A sad time indeed in the history of this organization.

  7. Richard Cleverley says:

    I can only agree. The YHA does need to balance its books, but since the 1980s there has been an increased involvement in it by people who neither know of, nor care about, its founding principles. From being a membership organisation, it has become just like any other business, except it is officially not for profit. Little different really from something like the Co-op. The money men and women were able to take it over by default; now it will be impossible to wrest control back from them.

  8. Victor holbrook says:

    Yes. sad days, I have just looked up the possibility of staying at crowden on my planned walk from derby to my daughter in Huddersfield later this month (oct 2014)
    and have been dismayed to find that it is now closed except for large groups apparently!
    I remember arriving at Boggle hole some years ago after a long walk on coast to coast to find it occupied by hordes of giggling 14 year old schoolgirls (who had arrived by bus! and I was not welcome! ho hum out with bivvy bag and suffer the vagaries of tide and collapsing cliffs
    later staying at dufton to find it under threat!
    shining cliff ambergate again, large groups only
    I wish as a member, I could be consulted and asked whether I would be willing to pay more to keep these pivotal hostels open ( I am often asked to for money to upgrade hostel for outdoor pursuits eg:- caving climbing, horse riding, disabled access, flower arranging (sic) etc, walking, cycling, does not appear to be in the frame
    sad days, like the co-op, after closing and selling off street corner shops I favour of bib supermarkets they are now trying to get back to their roots

  9. Nigel Easton says:

    Without wanting to sound too negative, dramatic or luddite, I often wonder how the gradual but seemingly systematic closure of what have been seen as ‘loss-making’ Youth Hostels along the Pennine Way in all but the most profitable locations, will affect the numbers of people who choose to walk the Way in one journey. I don’t know the numbers but it seems like the popularity of the route as a long distance walk has been gradually declining in recent decades and the loss of several of the hostels could be another ‘nail in the coffin’. The alternatives to youth hostels are basically either private lodging (hostels, bunkhouses, B&B’s, pubs and hotels) which are not cheap, or camping, and many people don’t fancy the hardship this brings such as extra weight to carry in often testing weather or ground conditions. I know we all need to continually adapt and reinvent ourselves to survive in this modern, rapidly-changing and cost conscious world but it does seem that in doing so the YHA is losing touch with its routes and original vision. Is it not too extreme to say that the Pennine Way is an institution in the British outdoor culture, an icon of the countryside and hill-walking fraternity and a legacy of one man Top Stephenson who passionately campaigned for much of his life to develop a national trail for people to enjoy. It seems sad that it’s worth and place in history is so casually pushed aside by bean counters sat in an office deciding what is of value and what isn’t when completing a company’s balance sheet.

  10. Nigel Howard Smyth says:

    As I was plaaning to walk the PW this news severly jepodises any such trip as there is a severe lack of B+B accomodation that is not very close to the route

  11. William Jeffrey says:

    I have completed the Pennine Way twice, June 1997 and July 2008. I used Crowden on both occasions and found to be well run and most importantly cheap. I completely agree with your comment regarding the gradual erosion of such places along the route which I believe will deter walkers from completing the journey as an expedition. Furthermore, the bean counters have missed a financial trick as so many people I met on both occasions were either soloing the route or couples who trekked the P.W. as part of their adventure holidays and sought accommodation at the end of each day.

  12. Peter Hall says:

    I am walking the Pennine Way for a third time this year, having completed it back in 1976 and 2004. There is alternative accommodation at Crowden, notably the Old House B&B which was excellent in 2004 and hopefully will be again. there is however a greater gap up at Baldersdale, where the Youth Hostel is now only available for large groups. There is no alternative accommodation at all and I have had to plan for a much longer walk to Middleton in Teesdale.
    Similarly, it is impossible to find any accommodation at Horton in Ribblesdale. I have tried to minimise my costs by staying at as many hostels as possible (8), but this means I will be in Horton on a Saturday night and no-one is taking bookings for less than 2 nights. My only solution is catch the train to Settle, stop overnight and catch one back on Sunday morning, ready to resume walking!
    In 1976, when 16, I completed the P.W. camping at the Youth Hostels and the total cost including food must have been less than £32.50 as that was all I had in my Post Office Account!
    In 2004, the accommodation alone cost me £250 and this years endeavours will be little short of £700, though I have booked for food in the Youth Hostels where it is available.
    If the Hostels are there to encourage young people to enjoy the outdoors, then they are failing to meet the challenge on the Pennine Way.

  13. steve travers says:

    I have completed the Pennine Way on two occasions and on both occasions I never felt the need to stay at Crowden hostel or the Old House. The whole point of walking the Pennine Way is to experience the challenge of adventure. Continue past the ‘unviable except for large groups’ hostel and bed down in Laddow Cave for the night.
    The advantages are obvious. A headstart for the following day’s trek and there is no charge. ‘Oooooh I couldn’t possibly do that’ ‘I need a proper bed and a shower blah blah blah’ some might say. I say to those people STOP WHINGING ABOUT A SITUATION THAT IS EASILY OVERCOME..USE YOUR INITIATIVE. Apart from Laddow there is the bridge leading to the Activity Centre. It makes an admirable overnight shelter as I know from experience, as does the nearby woodland. The campsite at Crowden has tent pitches available most of the time and I see that they have fairly recently installed miniature cabin type structures for overnighters. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to bemoan the loss of hostel accommodation at Crowden. I have been a regular visitor to the surrounding hill country since the mid 1970s and I have never,ever stayed overnight in a youth hostel.
    I have never needed to.

  14. Graham Garside says:

    Marvellous. No reason for you to bemoan it, yes you’re quite happy roughing it in caves/woods as you’ve clearly established. But those of us who like a bed after walking do miss the facility and this seems to be the consensus.

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