Black Sail youth hostel at the head of Ennerdale

Black Sail youth hostel at the head of Ennerdale

One of England’s remotest youth hostels will get a £¼m facelift for its 80th birthday.

The Black Sail hostel at the head of Ennerdale can only be reached by visitors on foot or bike, but boasts a champion in Everest summiteer Sir Chris Bonington, who welcomed the news of its refurbishment.

YHA, which owns the former shepherd’s bothy, said it would spend £260,000 on the single-storey building, thanks to generous donations from YHA members.

It said the cash will secure its future and enable it to open to visitors all year round.

YHA said it has listened to feedback from members and visitors to the hostel and scaled back earlier development plans for the unique hostel ‘to ensure the unique ambience of YHA Black Sail is retained following the completion of the improvements in April 2013’.

The former shelter, which became a youth hostel in 1933, has remained unaltered for many years. The investment will weatherproof the building and reduce running costs through new energy-saving measures and energy generation at the site ensuring its future environmental and financial sustainability, the charity said.

Work is due to start in late February, subject to weather conditions, and the youth hostel is due to re-open at Easter 2013.

Improvements planned for the Black Sail hostel include replacement of an existing extension which will accommodate new battery storage, wood store and cycle storage.

New oak-framed, double-glazed windows will reduce heat loss and the original building will be reroofed in slate, with flat roof areas having a new green roof replacing mineral felt. All areas of the roof will have thermal insulation added.

YHA said the installation of sun pipes will allow natural light into some of the darker areas of the building and renewable energy will be generated on site with roof-mounted photovoltaic panels.

Hot water will be generated with solar panels and a new wood-burning stove will provide heat and hot water. Electricity use will be reduced with the installation of LED lighting and water will be conserved with the introduction of aerated taps, dual flush toilets and percussion valves on showers

Sir Chris Bonington with a member of the Postellers YHA Group at Black Sail

Sir Chris Bonington with a member of the Postellers YHA Group at Black Sail

Additionally, the hostel will be rewired and have new plumbing systems and fire alarm systems installed. There will also be improved ventilation and drainage works.

YHA Black Sail will be redecorated internally and equipment replaced where needed.

Sir Chris Bonington said: “YHA Black Sail is my favourite youth hostel.

“Its position with its unspoilt environment, sense of being in the wild and its incredible view, combined with warm and friendly wardens who cook you a superb simple meal backed by an amazingly good small wine cellar, make it unique.

“The improvements, which in no way affect the atmosphere, are the cream on top.”

The investment in YHA Black Sail is part of the charity’s nationwide £10m investment and is one of five other youth hostels to undergo refurbishment in the first quarter of 2013.

Caroline White, chief executive of YHA (England and Wales) said: “YHA Black Sail is a great example of the diversity of YHA’s accommodation. We have something for everyone, whether it’s a private en suite room in a bigger youth hostel or a small remote hostel like Black Sail, the welcome and great social atmosphere is the same.”

Black Sail is surrounded by some of the Lake District’s most popular fells, including Haystacks, Brandreth, Great Gable and Pillar. It also lies on the route of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk.

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