A touch of romance coupled with comfort

Visitors relaxing outside the shepherds's huts.
Visitors relaxing outside the shepherds's huts.

An £86,000 refurbishment has brought a little romance – as well as comfort – to a north Northumberland youth hostel in the foothills of the Cheviots.

Holidaymakers can now experience a little of what it was like to be a Northumbrian shepherd by staying in specially-built huts in the grounds of Wooler Youth Hostel.

Shepherds traditionally slept in huts on wheels, which were pulled into the hills by horses, during the lambing season.

The four brand-new huts, which each sleep two, were built by Haugh Head-based joiner Albert Fairnington, local engineer Mick Farinington and their apprentices.

Neil Wilson of Glendale Gateway Trust, which owns and manages the youth hostel, said: “We wanted to offer our holidaymakers something different and, after walking in the Cheviots all day, we thought it would be great fun to imagine you were a shepherd bedding down in your hut in the hills or even let the kids have their very own den for the night.

“But of course these huts have a few more home comforts than those used by the shepherds of yore – electric lighting, heating, a bathroom within a few feet and even duvets!”

The huts are part of a major refurbishment of the youth hostel, which was funded by the Northumberland Uplands Leader programme through the Rural Development Programme for England, which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union.

It includes work in the main hostel building where four of the rooms have been made ensuite.

Neil said: “We appreciate that in this day and age most people expect a certain level of comfort, even in budget accommodation like youth hostels, so we now have four rooms – one sleeping two people, two sleeping four people and one sleeping six - with their own toilets and showers.”

To follow up the shepherding theme, the youth hostel is working with Jon Monks, a former shepherd who offers guided walks in the area, to arrange outings for people staying at the hostel.

“We’re able to arrange walks for our guests or even instructor-led adventure sessions such as canoeing, climbing, coastal rock scrambling or sea kayaking through a local company, active4seasons,” added Neil.

For more information, visit www.wooler.org.uk/hostel