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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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Mountaineer helps relaunch iconic Cumbrian hostel

Mountaineer Alan Hinkes has been put through one of his toughest challenges yet – leading a three-mile walk with more than 40 schoolchildren.

Black Sail walk photo
Alan Hinkes leads the walk

Mr Hinkes, famous for climbing all 14 of the world’s highest mountains, visited Ennerdale to officially open the Black Sail youth hostel following a £325,000 refurbishment.

The OBE holder was joined by 44 children – aged between four and 11 – from the village primary school as well as headteacher Vivien Young who is retiring after more than 30 years at the school.

He led a walk from the hostel in the heart of the village to the remote Black Sail, which can only be reached by foot or bike, where the youngsters’ art work was on show.

Mrs Young said: “This was my last school trip and it was certainly memorable as we all got soaked to the skin. I was proud of each and every child, some of whom were only four.

“All of them, particularly the youngest, just got on with it. The walk to Black Sail and the re-opening event was a great experience for them all, and they were delighted to see their artwork on display. It was wonderful to be part of such a special occasion.”

Pupil Saul Shail said: “It was a very long walk but I liked it. It was very cosy in the Youth Hostel and I loved the food we got and the pictures that were there.”

The refurbishment, which was made possible thanks to donations from Youth Hostel Association members and organisations, has secured the iconic hostel’s long-term future and enabled it to open to visitors all year round.

The hostel is a former shepherd’s bothy and celebrated its 80th birthday last year.

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

“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.”

The money has been used to weather-proof the building and reduce running costs through new energy-saving measures and energy generation on site.

There is also extra storage so more supplies can be kept on site during the winter.

JBarwise@cngroup.co.uk

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