Glenbrittle Youth Hostel on the Isle of Skye

Glenbrittle Youth Hostel on the Isle of Skye

Charity bosses are searching for outdoor fans with happy memories of a youth hostel that celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

SYHA said one couple began a romance on the bus to Glenbrittle Youth Hostel on the Isle of Skye, which led to them marrying.

A spokesperson for the organisation, which looks after almost 70 venues north of the border, said: “They met more than 50 years ago on the bus heading to Glenbrittle, where they then both stayed for a few days.

“However, after departure, they lost touch until the next chance encounter at Rowardennan Youth Hostel. After that, nothing was left to chance. From becoming pen-pals they went on to get married.

“After a life that saw them moving overseas for many years, they returned to home ground and took the journey back to where it all began, sharing their moving story with SYHA employees.”

The charity said it would love to hear from guests who have stayed at the youth hostel over the years and who have special memories and cherished moments they would like to share, as part of the celebrations of the hostel’s 75th anniversary.

The Glenbrittle Youth Hostel has come a long way – literally. The main structure, with its thick beams, steel rods and industrial-size nuts and bolts, was shipped from Norway, then taken by horse-cart down the rough track that was the access to the glen in September 1939.

After having been built in around six weeks by slotting the prefabricated timbers together – rumour has it no nails were used – the youth hostel finally opened its doors in early 1940, though its early years were disrupted by the war.

Located at the foot of the Cuillin Ridge on Skye, Glenbrittle soon became established as a popular climber’s destination, although comforts were limited. In those days, hostellers made do with no showers, no hot water, no electricity and three-tier bunk beds.

The early years were also plagued with problems caused by the harsh weather conditions in the glen, especially in winter. Interesting plans emerged on how to deal with this, including building a brick wall around the all-timber building. Other solutions were found to keep the place watertight and able to withstand gale-force winds. However, history repeated itself after more than 60 years when, in 2011, part of the roof cladding was lifted off by a storm.

As well as providing a new roof, Glenbrittle reopened in 2013 with upgraded facilities. It now has five rooms, ranging from a twin room to a comfortable 10-bed dormitory

Three youth hostels in Scotland have collectively clocked up 165 years in service. As well as Glenbrittle, two younger cousins have been welcoming outdoor enthusiasts for decades.

Aviemore Youth Hostel

Aviemore Youth Hostel

The Aviemore Youth Hostel has been open for 50 years and SYHA is offering 50 per cent off the first 50 bookings made before 30 September for stays in November.

Aviemore’s new-build lodge style hostel was officially opened on 13 November 1965 to replace a 1930s timber building. It was the first permanent structure to be specially designed since the war as a Scottish youth hostel.

Its structure and design overcame many of the difficulties SYHA had previously encountered in the conversion of old buildings. New methods of insulation made it easier to provide a heating system for the building which would keep it comfortably warm during heavy use in winter.

In 1968 extensions to both dormitory wings were completed. This increased the bed capacity from 64 to 92. Further renovations and extensions to the hostel extended its area by approximately 50 per cent to provide more beds and also more spacious facilities and in 1993 rebuilding work resulted in a modern youth hostel of 115 beds.

Torridon Youth Hostel

Torridon Youth Hostel

The Torridon hostel in north-west Scotland has on offer 40 free overnight stays – 20 pairs – for outdoor fans who can answer the question: which mountain is immediately behind Torridon Youth Hostel?

At the end of a complex and protracted gestation period as well as long delays to the build due to bad weather and labour shortages, the new-build hostel at Torridon opened its doors to guests on 8 August 1975.

Torridon was the first youth hostel to be built under the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 and many agencies including the National Trust for Scotland, the Highlands and Islands Development Board, the Government and the local council were involved in the project. It received the top 1976 award of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, for the finest new structure in a rural setting.

The new hostel featured spacious public rooms, eight-bed dormitories, leader rooms, showers and central heating. For many years, the Torridon and Kinlochewe Mountain Rescue Team has been based at the site.

Keith Legge, SYHA Hostelling Scotland chief executive, said: “Aviemore, Torridon and Glenbrittle Youth Hostels have reached major milestones this year and continue to be popular with guests from the UK and all over the world – in particular, walkers and climbers.

“Please celebrate these birthdays with us, supporting the continuation of hostelling in Scotland for many more happy years.”

Anyone with happy memories of the Glenbrittle hostel can contact SYHA by email or by post at SYHA National Office, 7 Glebe Crescent, Stirling FK8 2JA. To get the discount on the Aviemore hostel, use the code AVIE50 when booking. To enter the Torridon competition, email the SYHA, including your name and contact details by 31 August.