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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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!
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!
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’!
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.
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!
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.
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…
The Woodland Classroom ‘spring clean’ started this month, with many lovely people coming along on spare days to help me. Whilst painting the outdoor toilet a scritch-scritch noise could be heard on the other side of the wall – turned out to be wasps busily working away at the wood to take to their nests, superb!
Book-a-bed week runs in August, and my children and I have great adventures meeting new people and enjoying being the wardens at the hostel.
This month, in addition to everyone who came along to book-a-bed week, the hostel was used for a birthday party with nearly 40 guests, a singing group (watching them head off down the woodland track drumming as they walked was fantastic to see) and a creative art group.
Back to school and back to working on the hostel; the job list keeps getting longer! This month the Woodland Classroom is starting to be used after it’s spring clean in July, which is fantastic to see. The hostel is well used – by some individual book-a-bed bookings, a training organisation, a school, a spiritual retreat and a friends gathering.
The slope up to the hostel for a week in September is full of the noise of acorns falling to the ground – there are so many they completely cover the ground and I have to dodge to avoid being hit by them!
This month the hostel has been used by a local Scout group, a specialist school are using the hostel regularly on a day hire basis, an event was hosted by Thrive! who are an amazing group of people who work really hard in Derby to improve communities and support people in making healthy decisions both physically and mentally. A local Derby school also did some fundraising events so they could stay at the hostel for a night and then go to Matlock for fish and chips, apparently a fabulous time was had by all! There was a Friday night going spare, so we managed to have a lovely family gathering under the excuse of ‘testing the product’.
Not much went on in terms of redecoration, as I took some time off to go to Loch Ness and run the marathon up there and then had to go and do some nursing shifts to pay for it!
The month started off with Grith Pioneers, the hostel owners, spending a weekend at the hostel having an annual meeting and woodland work party so my family took the opportunity to have a weekend off! The hostel has been used for a retreat group, day hire by a school and NHS team-building day, and three weekend sole bookings.
The rain caused electrical faults, so my thanks to the groups who put up with standard lamps all over the hostel when the communal area lights tripped, and the group who put up with alternative toilets when the toilet electrics all tripped and thanks to PG Electricians who regularly come out to sort out problems!
Santa’s been to the hostel already!
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.
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!
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.
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!