The much-loved Black Sail hostel in Ennerdale is set to undergo a major refurbishment, which the Youth Hostels Association (YHA) say will secure its future and enable it to open to visitors all year round.
The former shepherd's bothy is one of the oldest hostels in Britain, and became a Youth Hostel in 1933. It has remained more or less unaltered in its rustic state for many years. The investment will not only weather-proof the building but also see reduced running costs through new energy saving measures and energy generation on site, ensuring its future environmental and financial sustainability according to the YHA.
Work is due to start in late February, subject to weather conditions, and the Youth Hostel will re-open at Easter 2013.
Improvements at Black Sail include:
Additionally, the hostel will be rewired and have new plumbing systems and fire alarm systems installed. There will also be improved ventilation and drainage works. The building will be redecorated internally and equipment replaced where needed.
Sir Chris Bonington welcomed the investment saying;
'YHA Black Sail is my favourite Youth Hostel - its position with its unspoilt environment, sense of being in the wild and its incredible view, combined with warm and friendly wardens who cook you a superb simple meal backed by an amazingly good small wine cellar, make it unique. The improvements, which in no way affect the atmosphere, are the cream on top!'
The YHA say they've listened to feedback from members and visitors to the hostel and scaled back earlier development plans to ensure the unique ambience of YHA Black Sail is retained.
The investment in YHA Black Sail is part of YHA's Capital Investment Plan and it is one of five other Youth Hostels to undergo refurbishment, totalling £10 million, in the first quarter of 2013. As part of the investment the charity is also creating a brand new Youth Hostel in the South Downs.
Commenting on the Capital Investment Plan Caroline White, Chief Executive of YHA (England and Wales) said:
'We're continuing to invest in our hostels to make sure they continue to offer the great welcome and friendly stay of which we are rightly proud.'
'YHA Black Sail is a great example of the diversity of YHA's accommodation. We have something for everyone, whether it's a private en suite room in a bigger Youth Hostel or a small remote hostel like Black Sail.'