January 2019

Preparations for taking over the lease of Shining Cliff hostel in March 2019 are ongoing. Thank you to everyone who is providing support, advice and encouragement.

I am putting together a ‘history of Shining Cliff hostel’ display – if anyone has a photo or story they are willing to share then I’d love to hear from you; please contact me on shiningcliffhostel@yahoo.com

February 2019.

Lindley Educational Trust kindly let me stay over at the hostel during half term to spring clean in preparation for taking over the lease at the end of the month. The weather is fabulous, there are wonderful sunrises, and early morning mist hanging in the valley to accompany the morning birdsong in the woods.

Half term spring cleaning
Early morning winter sunrise

March 2019.

This is it, my new venture starts, and Shining Cliff hostel bookings continue to come in, with a mixture of returning groups who simply love the place, to new users who are drawn to the remote, woodland setting of the hostel. A recurring comment is how the hostel ‘feels’ a happy place, which I agree with completely. It is quite something to simply stand in the kitchen area, chatting with friends and looking out over the fabulous  woodland valley view from the kitchen window.

There are a variety of groups using the hostel this month, including a training group, a birthday party and the local council youth service.

The young birthday group make the most of the adventure element of the hostel by navigating to the hostel from the train station by map, having a fire in the fire pit and exploring the crags.

Fire pit evenings

April 2019.

The month started off with the landowner, Grith Pioneers, having their AGM at the hostel, and getting stuck in with some maintenance tasks, including cleaning the moss off the hostel roof.

The days when no groups are in are spent continuing the hostel spring clean…a massive thank you to friends who have given their time to come help clean and paint the hostel. It is hugely appreciated xx

The hostel also hosted a local youth group who helped out by doing a great job of painting the Woodland Classroom – thank you!

Woodland art by the local Belper youth group
Before the painting and cleaning of the Woodland Classroom (available for hire)

Other user groups included Platform Thirty1 who ran a training session at the hostel and made it look amazing and TotallyAktive, who ran a bootcamp from the hostel – and survived the wettest day of the month out in the elements!

A very rainy day for a boot camp!

Promotion of Shining Cliff hostel as a great place to relax and enjoy time with friends or work collaboratively with new friends continues. This month I had my first radio interview with BBC Radio Derby to promote this beautiful hostel, and new signage has gone up outside the hostel to make walkers aware that it is available to hire.

There is a lovely curiosity about the hostel, people will often wander up the path and tell me that they stayed here as a child, or when it was the YHA. My favourite so far is the story of the couple who met when staying at the hostel and are now very happily married. In researching the history of the hostel I have also found a fascinating account from the 1970s where a man had to climb up to the top of a triple bunk, he comments that the room was ‘rather snug for 11 people’!

May 2019

Shining Cliff wood has gone from the bud burst of April to fresh, young leaves on the trees and a wonderful array of plants bursting into flower. Yellow Archangel and Bluebell, with Stitchwort sneaking in has completely changed the woodland.

A stunning dewy morning walk down to the hostel

This month the hostel is booked up by individual groups. In between bookings the spring cleaning continues. The hostel is slowly being painted room by room, and new curtains are going up. The job list is long but a work party with the landowners is booked for June which will help a lot!

A fresh coat of paint on the walls and new curtains up. Just the painting of the doors and re-covering of the chairs to go….

June 2019

This month the hostel has been used by a reunion group, a spiritual retreat, a training group, a local school, some individual book-a-bed groups and the landowners on a ‘work weekend’. It is great to have such a variety of users and the work weekend saw a huge boost to the ongoing ‘spring clean’ of the hostel with lots of painting, roof cleaning, sawing and sanding.

Fire pit evenings by the Cranedale reunion group

The woodland is is in full bloom at the moment – the picnic table area is an ongoing task, with plans to encourage less nettles and brambles and more of the woodland flowers that are evident along the walk from the car park area to the hostel.

It is great to see so many people using the woodland, https://www.woodlandersforestschool.co.uk had a Woodland Wellbeing weekend for women that looked so good each time I walked past on my way to the hostel. Woodlanders Forest school has more events like this coming up…