Shining Cliff hostel is an independent hostel accommodating up to 20 people and is located off-road in Shining Cliff woods, near Ambergate, Derbyshire. It is a stunning, peaceful woodland setting that has a wonderful ‘get away from it all’ feeling, yet is well connected for train, bus and driving routes and a great central England location for people to gather together from all over the country.

The hostel is accessed only by foot, the nearest car park is 1/2 mile away; creating a unique, get-away-from-it-all experience. Wheelbarrows are provided at the car park for you to porter your belongings to the hostel – adding to the unique sense of adventure when staying at the hostel!

It is an ideal location for family or group get-togethers, school groups and youth groups; with the woodland, crags and streams to explore.

The hostel is also ideal for groups seeking to reconnect with the natural environment and have time away from the stresses of modern life; an ideal location for retreats.

The hostel can also be hired by the day Monday – Thursday. This is a superb option for corporate away-days, team building days, workshop sessions. You could also combine a hostel hire with a bespoke woodland session run by Kate and Bonnie, using the hostel as your base for the day. See the events page for what woodland sessions we can offer.


Shining Cliff hostel accommodates 20 people in 5 bedrooms. All rooms have bunkbeds and are named after climbing routes on the crags outside the hostel. Bedrooms all have panel heaters which can be adjusted for your temperature preference. Each room has custom built storage units for your belongings.

  • Gecko Blaster. Sleeps 4

Self catering kitchen

The hostel kitchen is fully equipped for a group of up to 20 people to self cater. It also has the most beautiful woodland view out of the large window – even washing up becomes a nice task at the hostel!

What’s provided in the hostel kitchen…

The kitchen is fully equipped with enough mugs, glasses, side plates, dinner plates, bowls & cutlery for 20 people. Plus baking trays, mixing bowls, grater, weighing scale, cafetieres, tea pots, pans including one enormous stock pot, frying pans, steamer, colanders, jugs, stick blender, knives and other standard cooking utensils. There is also children’s cutlery, plates, cups and bowls.

There is an induction hob with double oven and grill, fridge, freezer, microwave, water boiler and dishwasher.

Lounge and Dining area.

Shining Cliff hostel is a single storey building with an open plan lounge, dining area and kitchen. The bedrooms and bathrooms lead off from the open plan area.

The lounge has seating for 14, which can be moved around for your preferred configurations. The dining room has tilting tables to enable you to store them conveniently to the side of the room if you are using it for activities. The dining room chairs are stackable so you can create more space.


The hostel has 3 bathrooms, each with a sink, shower and waterless toilet. There is also an additional sink in the bathroom lobby.

The hostel is not connected to mains waste services, and originally the hostel had an outside toilet block; it is believed that the waste from the toilets went into a ‘soak away’. The hostel then installed vacuum style composting toilet system, but this frequently blocked and failed, so I replaced them in 2020 with fabulous waterless toilets. All liquids go into a soak away, and all solids are composted on the hostel grounds and then spread in the woodlands with permission of Natural England. I have become slightly geeky about the toilets, and am happy to share my experiences of composting toilets with anyone who asks!

Hostel grounds

The hostel nestles up against Shining Cliff crags at the rear of the building, to the front there is a picnic table area, that can seat 24 people. The herbs in the raised bed outside the kitchen window is for guests to use in cooking, and there is a boot brush near the outdoor tap for cleaning off muddy footwear.

There is a Woodland Hut in the hostel grounds that is available to hire by the day, and is used for woodland sessions run by Kate and Bonnie. The hostel and Woodland Hut each have their own stunning fire pits for guests to use.

The hostel fire pit is a large area, with stone seating around the fire pit. It is slightly further away from the hostel than the woodland hut, so if guests would prefer to have a fire pit closer, especially if you have younger children with you, then please request this on booking. There is a fire pit kit box available to use if you wish, this contains grills for putting cookware on, plates and cooking utensils.

What to bring….

I provide the following items at the hostel, to save you carrying them….

  • Ecoleaf Washing up liquid 
  • Tea towels and dishcloths
  • Ecoleaf dishwasher tablets 
  • Ecoleaf hand soap in kitchen and bathrooms 
  • Biodegradable bin bags.
  • Foil, baking parchment, cling film/beeswax wraps
  • Vegetable and olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Jars of tea, coffee, (including decaf tea and coffee) & sugar – enough to start your visit off, but please bring your own if staying for a few days
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet roll –  please do not use toilet wet wipes unless compostable. 
  • Items available on request: 
    • BBQ box with plates, 2 grills & utensils
    • Toy boxes – large wooden train set, duplo Lego.
    • Dog kit box – blankets and 2 bowls

Things you may want to bring….

  • Wood, matches & firelighters for the fire pits – do not use wood from Shining Cliff, it is being managed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the dead wood is being left on purpose to provide a habitat for mini-beasts and plants.
  • During the summer & autumn months insect repellent is useful – particularly on still, windless days..

Extra things to consider…

  • The hostel bedrooms (except The Far Side) do not have plug sockets in. There are electrical sockets in the lounge. The bedrooms have an overhead light only, with no individual bed lights. 
  • If a cuppa is one of the first things you might like to have on arrival, make switching on the hot water boiler your first job – it can then take 20-30 minutes to get to temperature whilst you lug all your belongings to the hostel and should be heated up just as you finish!
  • There are 6 hostel wheelbarrows attached to a wooden A-frame in the car park which you can use to porter your belongings.
    • If you do use the wheelbarrows, please ensure they are stored either in the hostel porch or locked back up at the car park.
  • Sometimes groups are camping in the woodland, by prior agreement they will use the external tap just outside the kitchen window to top up their water. Please check with me if you would like to know if this would be happening during your stay. 
  • Shining Cliff Centre also has a Woodland Hut in the hostel grounds; groups may be using this. Again, please ask me if you would like to know if groups are using it during your stay. 
  • Please be aware that the footpath to the hostel is part of a public footpath. 
  • The car park is shared with other groups using the woodland, please park considerately to enable others to park there. Please do not park outside NetherPark farm as this can cause access problems for the people living there. 

Please note: sometimes camping groups using the woodland use the external water tap at the hostel by prior arrangement. The footpath to the hostel is a public footpath. Shining Cliff crags are sometimes used by climbers.

The hostel and woodland is an amazing place to explore, but be aware the picnic area has a steep drop on two sides that is unfenced and requires supervision with children. Please be vigilant that in high winds there is increased risk of injury from falling branches. The footpath to the hostel is rough and uneven. There are unfenced cliff edges in the woodland and a reservoir. Several parts of the hostel grounds have crags, it is assumed that people using the area personally assess the risks when exploring or using the area.