Alan’s Attempt to Attract Outdoor Enthusiasts to the Inn – News
Britain’s top mountaineer Alan Hinkes is on a mission to bring people back to Langdon Beck Hostel as he recovers from Covid-19 lockdowns.
Mr Hinkes, who has won acclaim for being the first British mountaineer to summit the world’s 14 mountains over 8,000 metres, is an ambassador for the Youth Hostel Association (YHA), which operates the valley facility superior.
The hostel had around 3,000 overnight stays each year before the pandemic and some minor renovations are planned as part of a bid to attract more people.
Langdon Beck had an inn soon after the AJ was established as a charity in the early 1930s to address concerns about the welfare of urban populations after the Depression.
Mr Hinkes said: “The hostel has been around for 90 years, with the first building dating from 1938.
“It was destroyed by fire in 1958 and work began on the present building in 1962 and it was inaugurated in May 1965. It was built mainly by voluntary workers.”
At the time it was advertised as “rising from the ashes” and a cast iron sign for Langdon Beck Hostel features a phoenix.
The climber added: “Originally you had to get to a YHA by Shank’s pony – that is, on foot or by bike – you weren’t allowed to drive there.
“It was still a dorm then and you had to do chores, like washing dishes or cleaning and things like that. Now you don’t have to do any more chores.
“There are still dorms, but most YHAs are going to have private rooms.”
The Langdon Beck facility has a number of bedrooms for as few as two people or up to ten.
Mr Hinkes said: ‘The good thing about the hostel is that you can also do your own cooking as there is a communal kitchen, which is spotless.
The accommodation also includes a small laundry and drying room, as well as en-suite showers and toilets.
YHA North East Operations Manager Chris Edis said before the pandemic the facility was popular with Pennine Way walkers, hill walkers, school groups and people who just wanted a little of tranquility.
The area also attracts, he added, people interested in geology, its flora and fauna, especially the unique birdlife and alpine plants.
However, during the pandemic, when restrictions permitted, only small groups could use the facility.
Mr Edis said: “We are doing a little project to bring it back to life. We have recruited a new manager and are slowly redecorating it a bit.”
Of the AJ’s role in the Pennine Way, Mr Hinkes said: ‘In the 1930s when they opened these hostels and even into the 1970s, if not later, you could do all the Pennine Way by staying in hostels.
“Now you obviously can’t because some hostels have closed.
“You get a lot of Pennine Way walkers who come here because it’s not really a detour and then you get them to the next hostel which is Dufton and after Dufton they go to Alston which has a YHA as well.”
One of the many people who booked into the Langdon Beck Hostel last week was software engineer Beth Allchurch, from Mumbles, Wales, who was on a 19-day trek of the famous walking route.
She described the facility as “great and reasonably priced” and added that she was lucky to get a room at short notice.
Of her walk, Ms Allchurch said: ‘It’s been really good. It was a bit challenging but the scenery was amazing. I love the outdoors and thought it would be nice to spend three weeks doing this.
Following her overnight stay, she walked to Dufton and stayed there at the AJ.
Further afield there are YHA facilities at Ninebanks in North Tynedale and Grinton Lodge in Swaledale.
However, Langdon Beck is the only YHA accommodation in County Durham, Mr Hinkes said.
For more information on YHA and its Langdon Beck facilities, visit yha.org, UK.