YHA Windermere

North West England Cumbria Windermere

One of the most scenically sited hostels in England, with stunning lake and mountain views.

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It's all about the view at YHA Windermere and it doesn't disappoint. The elegant old hillside mansion, situated a couple of miles up from England's largest lake, boasts stunning views down to the water and across the encroaching fells. Sunsets (and dark skies) from the terrace are magical, while there are four acres of wooded grounds to explore – hard to believe you get all this at budget YHA rates, because it's the sort of location and outlook that commands big bucks elsewhere in the Lakes.

It's been nicely converted inside, with plenty of reminders of the house's heritage in the public spaces and lounges. Big windows in the dining room look down to Windermere, and plenty of the rooms have the all-important views too. There are 69 beds in total, most in reasonably sized four-bedded rooms, as well as a decent self-catering kitchen, a bar that stays open from 3pm, and meals available from a daily changing menu.

Meanwhile, the grounds not only house some colourful tipis (each sleeping four people on mattresses) but also boasts probably the Lake District's most panoramic campsite. You can pitch in the field or up by the woods, but either way you're going to wake up to the lake in all its glory, which takes some beating. Tipi guests and campers have the use of a separate building containing loos, hot showers and kitchen-diner – all cleaned daily – or you can use the bar, kitchen, lounge and all the other facilities in the hostel itself. It's a really nice set-up – giving you the best of both worlds really – and camping numbers are limited so the site never feels too crowded.

As a budget base for Windermere the YHA is brilliant – though note that it's up near Troutbeck village, not Windermere itself. There's a pub a mile up the road and another a mile down the road, while the friendly staff can fill you in on all the local walks including the fabulous 9-mile circuit over Wansfell Pike to Ambleside and back – they even have a printed walk map for this, so there's no excuse!

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Tipis sleep 4 people on mattresses. They have a wooden floor which is partly carpeted and a lockable coffee table chest. There's eco-friendly solar lighting and 2 waterproof bean bags. Campers have use of their own toilet and shower block and self-catering kitchens but all facilities in the Youth Hostel are also available with 24 hour access via a door code – this includes a bar/restaurant and lounge area with free Wi-Fi and a kitchen with fridges, ovens, a microwave, kettle and toaster, plus all the pots, pans and cutlery you could need.

Suitable For

Tents, families, couples, groups – yes. Campervans, caravans, motorhomes, trailer tents – no.


The best way to start is to pop down the road to Ecclerigg where the Lake District Visitor Centre (01539 446601) has heaps of information on where to go and what to do in the immediate surroundings. Heading further round the waterside to National Trust-owned Low Wray Castle (01539 433250) is always a popular option and a boat tour on the waters with Windermere Lake Cruises (01539 443360) is also on most peoples list. For walking, it's best to use an OS map and plan routes directly from the campsite. Red Screes and Stony Cove Pike are the nearest peaks you can bag, a couple of miles up the road.

Food & Drink

You can grab breakfast in the hostel (£5.25) between 7:30–9am with a hot and cold buffet option. They can also provide fresh packed lunches for the day (order in advance) and serve a set three course menu in the evenings. The restaurant is open to the public as well as guests. The hostel is fully licensed, so enjoy a cold bottled beer or a glass of wine too.


Open all year, including camping; Tipis Easter–October.


Dormitory beds from £10 a night, private rooms from £39, family rooms from £29; camping from £8 per person, tipis £49–£99 a night.

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Contact Website  0845 371 9352  YHA Windermere, Bridge Lane, Troutbeck, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1LA

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Getting There

Driving from the north, leave the M6 at junctions 36, 37 or 38 and follow the signs to Troutbeck Bridge. After the filling station, take the first turning on the right – the hostel is well signedposted, one mile up Bridge Lane.

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I'm already looking forward to going again and would highly recommend this hotel to anyone visiting the area. It definitely deserves a five star rating!

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