January 2020

The hostel has been a little quieter this month, which has been a great opportunity to very nearly finish the Spring Clean which started a year ago! Thanks to an idea provided on my Facebook page, the bedrooms, newly repainted, have been renamed. The new names; Gecko Blaster, The Bat House, Holly Days, Pillar Chimney and The Far Side, have all been taken from climbing route names on the crag outside the hostel. To include the woodland the names are painted on leaf shapes found at Shining Cliff woods; Birch, Sycamore, Ash, Chestnut and Elm.

February 2020

The month of storms – Ciara, Dennis and Jorge have swept through Shining Cliff woods. Fortunately as the hostel is located near the top of the valley we have not experienced any flooding, and there is only minor damage to paths from water run-off. One beautiful silver birch was blown down, and can now be seen as you walk to the hostel from the car park area. The bottom of the valley has fared less well with the River Derwent bursting it’s banks on several occasions, affecting local residents and businesses.

The storms led to a quiet half term and with children with chicken pox at home and half term holidays the hostel got a well deserved rest!

March 2020.

The Coronavirus outbreak gathered pace and started drastically changing lives this month. Each day I seemed to make a new plan for how the hostel would respond to the outbreak and by the next day the plan had to change.

Shining Cliff hostel closed it’s doors on 22nd March; I look forward to re-opening later in the year when it is safe to do so.

April 2020.

This month there was unbelievably good weather – I think everyone involved in holiday accommodation in the UK often had the same thought that went through my mind; which was sadness that people can’t come and stay and enjoy this fabulous weather! Shining Cliff woods is bursting into life this month, with tree leaf buds bursting open and beautiful fresh young leaves emerging. The bird song and stillness of the woods is simply awesome.

April at the hostel has seen the addition of WiFi so I can control the new hostel storage heaters from my phone which is hugely exciting for me! Hostel users will also benefit as they will be able to access the WiFi when staying.

April has also seen a big effort put into making the outdoor picnic area a safer area to use. The 2 old picnic tables that have had signs on saying ‘waiting to be up cycled, please don’t use as rotten’ since last August have now started to be upcycled. These picnic tables used to be the dining tables inside the hostel when it was YHA, so they deserve to end their days at the hostel! One is being made into a quirky, homemade raised bed (quirky because my woodwork skills are…minimal..). I hope this raised bed will have herbs that can be used by guests and salad leaves in the summer. The other table has been converted into a compost bin for the nettles and brambles that are being cleared from the outdoor seating area.

The outdoor seating area has a very steep drop off to the sides. This has been off-putting for some people who felt it wasn’t a safe space for children to play. So I have planted 48 hedgerow tree saplings from The Woodland Trust with the intention of nurturing a hedge around the area to create a more natural barrier. I intend for the hedge to be laid when big enough so the view is not effected.

Wood chip is starting to be put in the picnic table area. This is going to be the ground covering in the areas that people will walk. I am then encouraging the plants that some think of weeds, but I see as good for foraging and for wildlife in the areas not walked on. Dandelions, burdock, stickyweed, nettles are growing well!

Summer 2020

Coronavirus restrictions continue to have a huge impact on the hostel and how it is being used. The hostel has been used throughout lockdown for a key service at a not-for-profit rate which is great for everyone involved.

All bookings that had been made prior to restrictions were cancelled month-by-month as they did not fit the criteria. Only on the last week of August could a booking be honoured…and on the end of this booking a local family also had a night at the hostel before the key service users returned. This family made an awesome video of their stay which I am hugely grateful to them for sharing https://m.youtube.com/watch?fbclid=IwAR20bh7qkqMmGwmZoOALJal4peSTj9fj7F124WDX_SGELpMUe58tK1_wGSI&feature=youtu.be&v=Xodyy-fIuHg

September 2020 “The month of the Fence”

After quite a lot of preparation and planning, the damaged wire and post fence at the hostel, which stops people falling down the steep slope from the footpath to the hostel entrance, was taken down and the new fence started…

The concept is a ‘deadwood fence’. There are two parallel rows of chestnut stakes (locally sourced, long lasting) which then get in-filled with brush (fallen branches, pruned branches). This creates a habitat for decomposers, and a food source for things that eat detritivores…fantastic!

The plan is to weave the tops of the chestnut stakes with hazel saplings, to create a handrail effect and strengthen the entire structure.

October 2020..still the ‘month of the fence’

The ‘month of the fence’ got waylaid in September, as the last of the toilets I inherited in March 2019 failed so I spent some time taking it out and installing the final composting toilet which is great! This involved drilling holes in the wall, revisiting legislation around compost toilets, learning about plumbing and researching compost bins for the waste to be emptied into…life is never dull at Shining Cliff hostel.

After this diversion, the hostel fence building continues. Peak Traditional Fencing supplies me with hazel binding rods, and Simon who runs the company showed me how to weave the binding…

November 2020

My forest school training with Steve Greaves Outdoors started this month! The aim is to be able to offer forest school sessions for school residential bookings and to offer woodland based activities to the local community and groups booked at the hostel. This is a year-long training course and the first training week was wonderful!

Sadly at the same time as the forest school training, the user group in the hostel had a tough time and lots of damage was done by the young person they had placed at the hostel. This was heart-breaking for all involved.

The user group responded well to this crisis and the plan for repairs was put in place. Out of a horrible situation for all, the hostel ended up benefiting with damaged items all being replaced over the next few months whilst coronavirus restrictions remained in place.

December 2020

A month of starting to clear up the graffiti and mess made last month and preparations for starting my first forest school sessions at a local community GreenSpace I’ve been involved in; a busy month!

The hostel looked very sad, so I put some signs up in all the windows to reassure all the local people walking by that things would get better for the hostel!