An early decision
was to rely on youth hostels and bed and breakfast, and not to take a tent. This
partly decided my route, particularly in remoter areas of Scotland where beds
were few and far between. But I did not think it practical to book in advance
the whole way, so my route had to be flexible enough to deal with full and non-existent
Usually I was able to arrange a bed by phoning ahead on
the same day. I had a few problems finding a bed at weekends or for odd reasons
- the end of school term at Bruton and the Lichfield Festival. But I worked around
this by having longer or shorter days.
I pre-booked accommodation on the
Pennine Way, expecting it to be busy in the school holidays. In the event, most
places were not full. But at some pinch points (Standedge/Marsden, Upper Teesdale),
I would have had a problem if I had not booked in advance. I also booked accommodation
in Edinburgh, where my visit coincided with the start of the Festival.
are good accommodation guides for the National Trails and National Parks. Elsewhere,
there are few comprehensive lists of accommodation, and even trawling the internet
for B&Bs in a particular place can be frustrating. I found Tourist Information
Centres useful, particularly in Scotland, but even they do not cover all the available
accommodation in their area.
Prices for B&B varied from £15 to
£45 a night. The highest prices were in the Midlands, where most places
had no single rooms and tended to charge a significant premium for single occupancy
of double rooms.
In contrast, booking youth hostels was a dream. The SYHA
has a particularly good website (http://www.syha.org.uk),
and it was easy to change bookings by phone through one central number. The English
YHA website (http://www.yha.org.uk)
was good but not as flexible.
standard of youth hostel accommodation was much higher than when I last used them
over 30 years ago. A big advantage of hostels was the opportunity to meet and
share info with other walkers. Most English hostels provided meals, but in Scotland
none did, which meant carrying food long distances to isolated hostels (Broadmeadows,
Inverey) where there was nowhere to buy food.
also stayed at two independent hostels. Since 2004, some of the smaller "official"
youth hostels have closed, and independent hostels are filling many of the gaps.
Two websites, one for the whole
of the UK and one for Scotland,
give details of independent hostels.
night's accommodation is listed in the log.