Alan Hinkes and primary school children at the reopening of Black Sail youth hostel

Alan Hinkes and primary school children at the reopening of Black Sail youth hostel

Record-breaking mountaineer Alan Hinkes reopened one of England’s remotest youth hostels by leading a walk from a neighbouring hostel.

The Yorkshire climber, the only Briton to have successfully summited the world’s 14 highest peaks, officially declared Black Sail hostel open after a £325,000 refurbishment.

The building, a former shepherd’s bothy at the head of Ennerdale, is only accessible by walking or by bike.

Hinkes, who said it is his favourite youth hostel, walked the 3½ miles from YHA’s Ennerdale hostel to the refurbished building, with staff, volunteers, YHA members and 47 children from the local primary school.

He said: “I love the remoteness of YHA Black Sail. The fact it’s only accessible with your own efforts by foot or bike, only adds to its appeal for me.

“It is the rural location of many youth hostels that holds great appeal for me as they are ideal bases for the walking, climbing and outdoor pursuits that I love.”

Black Sail, in the shadow of Great Gable, Pillar and Hay Stacks, is one of England’s oldest youth hostels, and celebrated its 80th anniversary last year.

The investment, part financed by members’ donations, enabled YHA to weather-proof the building and reduce running costs through the installation of new energy-saving measures and the introduction of energy generation on site.

Black Sail youth hostel at the head of Ennerdale

Black Sail youth hostel at the head of Ennerdale

Storage at the hostel has also been increased so more supplies can be kept during the winter months when the hostel is inaccessible and also to reduce vehicle movements through Ennerdale.

Lake District brewer and pub operator Jennings has donated a Land Rover to YHA.

The new Land Rover is used by the team to shuttle between YHA Ennerdale and Black Sail. The Land Rover can carry up to five people and also transport more supplies, including food, beer, gas bottles, laundry, cleaning products, rubbish and recycling.

The hostel has been redecorated, rewired and has new plumbing systems and fire alarm systems installed. There are also improved ventilation and drainage.

Caroline White, chief executive of YHA (England and Wales) said: “YHA Black Sail is a great example of the diversity of YHA’s accommodation and the experiences we can offer young people and their families.”

Tessa Lyons with her work at the hostel

Tessa Lyons with her work at the hostel

Landscape artist Tessa Lyons has created a piece of art which will be on permanent display at Black Sail. Ms Lyons also worked with reception to year six pupil at Ennerdale and Kinniside CofE Primary School to produce an art display, which interprets the surrounding Ennerdale landscape in a number of different ways using print, charcoal, fabric, wax, water colour and salt and paper techniques.

YHA said the hostel, which sleeps 16, has always had an open door policy and walkers are welcome to come in, make themselves a hot drink and have a cake and simply leave a donation.

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