I’m the Chief Executive of YHA, a charity and social enterprise with a 90-year history of connecting people with places, with the outdoors, with nature, and with the culture and heritage of England and Wales. YHA is a charity dedicated to ensuring everyone gets the benefit of time in green spaces, and ensuring all those we serve come to know, love and appreciate the natural world.
This is Week 11 of our #CountdowntoCOP campaign, encouraging people to sign up for one or more of the 16 Count Us In steps. We will have a guest blog each week until November’s UK-hosted COP, focusing on one of these 16 steps.
This week, James Blake, chief executive of YHA, tells us how to enjoy great holidays in the UK when we take the step ‘Fly Less” with Count Us In.
For the last couple of years, many more of us have holidayed closer to home – by necessity rather than design. The impact of COVID-19 has seen a major drop in air travel, which in turn meant a significant, temporary reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
As we move beyond this era of travel restrictions, there is a temptation to return to holidays abroad reached by plane. It is vital, however, that we all try to fly less: the Count Us In campaign say “taking a few less flights is one of the best ways to dramatically reduce your carbon pollution”. Holidaying in the UK is a great green option and there is a huge variety of wonderful holiday types available here. One you may not have tried is hostelling.
Hostelling is a greener adventure
Hostelling in the UK is a fantastic option for a holiday if you are trying to fly less. It makes travel and adventure accessible to everyone, everywhere. Hostelling has a strong ethos around sharing spaces and it is this that makes hostelling by definition one of the most sustainable forms of accommodation.
Accommodation to suit everyone
Nevertheless, hostelling does not have to mean bunk rooms. If you thought you knew what hosteling was like, think again as it can take many accommodation forms. As we say on the YHA website: “You may prefer the communal and friendly environment of sharing with others in a dorm room. But if that’s not your thing, we have plenty of room types available, including private rooms, cabins and even tipis which allow you to enjoy some privacy and space of your own.” Read more about what it’s like in a hostel here.
Stay in iconic locations
YHA operates over 150 sites throughout England and Wales. We’re lucky enough to be guardians of some truly extraordinary properties — uniquely situated, with iconic landscapes and landmarks right on our doorstep. For a flavour, take a look at our list of national treasures and hidden gems with suggestions of the best places to stay nearby.
Sustainable by design
Taking care of the environment is an essential part of what we do. And to that end, many of our purpose-built properties are constructed from sustainable materials and carry eco-friendly credentials. We’re advocates of car-less holidays and many hostels are in locations well served by public transport. Take a look at our top nine places to reach by train or bus.
Where will you explore?
Be it the foot of the highest mountain, shore of the largest lake, the heart of a National Park, or world-famous historic places, hostelling allows you to access great value accommodation in all the best places. Plus, as we’re a charity, all spend gets put back into improving health, wellbeing and life skills – for all, but especially young people.
Fly less, explore more with YHA. Here’s a handful of places where you can do just that.
On the edge of one of the Lake District’s most awe-inspiring wilderness areas, YHA Eskdale is a real hidden gem. The hostel runs off renewable heat and electricity through the use of a biomass boiler and solar panels. There’s also a wildlife trail and a nature hide in the grounds.
Because of its climber-friendly location, 1000 ft above sea level on Snowdon’s eastern slope, there has been guest accommodation on this site since at least 1871. The site is steeped in mountaineering heritage, having hosted George Leigh Mallory for climbing parties prior to his Everest attempt.
The quirky Boggle Hole is nestled in a former smuggler’s cove on Yorkshire’s Heritage Coast. So close to the beach, this is the place to paddle, hunt for fossils and build sandcastles. Robin Hood’s Bay is a stroll away, and to get to Whitby, simply walk or cycle the Cinder Track.
To see all of our accommodation and seasonal offers across England and Wales, visit us online.
Other hostelling options
If you fancy going further afield, our sister organisation Hostelling Scotland has a similar network across Scotland.
And if there’s not a YHA in the place you want to go, there is a network of independent hostels right across the UK. So you’ll never be far from an opportunity to travel sustainably through hostelling.
Even further afield? Find links to hostel networks in various European countries here, and look at the Sustainable St Albans Fly Less resources page for help planning your travel there by train or coach.
Fly less, explore more
Let’s keep all that’s great about domestic travel for a greener, more eco-friendly future by flying less and exploring more.
Join in with #CountdownToCOP today
It’s easy to join in with #CountdownToCOP. Environmental groups of St Albans District have come together to set up the St Albans Climate Action Network who are hosting their own special St Albans District Count Us In page. Simply visit the page, explore the 16 steps and pledge to take one step by choosing “Take a Step”. When you register, tick that you are part of the “St Albans Climate Network” to have your step counted on the St Albans page.
Join in today and use Jame’s advice to help you choose the “Fly Less” Step as your pledge.
You can track the carbon impact of your own actions. As more people join, we will all see our cumulative efforts across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages.
We will have a blog every Sunday until the international climate talks in November, COP26. Each blog will focus on one of the 16 steps. Look out for next week’s blog on insulating your home by Judith Leary-Joyce.