Last weekend we packed up our waterproofs and our walking boots and drove up country and across to North Yorkshire for a weekend of walking and exploring the Village of Malham and the surrounding area while staying over night in a family room at YHA Malham.
Although Malham is only an hour or so drive from where we live in North Manchester, it's a part of Yorkshire we have never visited before as a family. My husband passed though here two years ago when he completed the Three Peaks Challenge and was pleased to have the opportunity to return and explore.
Before our trip, I'd researched the area and we were looking forward to walking to Malham Cove, the great Limestone cliff that reaches over 250 feet high. The impressive rock formation was featured in the blockbuster movie; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and has been mentioned multiple times in literature and prose. We also planned some walks across towards Gordale Scar visiting Janet's Foss Waterfall in the Woodland. Another must while we were in the area was a visit to the nearby Skipton Castle on our way home. You can read about our walks and castle adventures in a separate post soon.
I'd not stayed in a youth hostel in this country since a school trip to Ambleside when I was 11, so I really wasn't sure what to expect. We were booked in a 4 bed family room with an en suite toilet. As a family that regularly camps, we were used to basic facilities so I was mainly hoping for somewhere clean and dry to rest our heads after a long day of discovering all Malhamdale had to offer.
What we got was so much more!
We arrived late morning and parked up in the car park that overlooked the two wooden camping pods that YHA Malham also offers as accommodation. We spent the afternoon exploring the village and walking up to Malham Cove. On return around 4pm we walked up to the reception building to check in with the friendly staff. After being handed our room key we were offered free wifi cards for our phones and tablet and told about dining options. A communal dining room and kitchen facilities were available for all guests to prepare their own food and if we were staying for more than one night we certainly would have taken advantage of these.
Food and Drink
On this occasion feeling a little weary from the extensive walking we have all done we decided to take advantage of the dining options and booked ourselves in for both dinner later that evening and breakfast the next morning to set ourselves up for another day of adventures. I was impressed by the value of the food. A full cooked breakfast with continental options was just £5.25 for adults and £2.95 for children including a choice of drinks. Dinner was even better value, with four options for each course, two of the mains being vegetarian, two courses cost just £9.95 per person and a child ate free for every adult dining! Jugs of drinking water were provided at no extra cost and if like us you wanted to treat yourself to a stronger beverage, a choice of ales and wines were available to buy.
The room we stayed in contained two sets of bunk beds, four lockers and a chair, and the en suite had a toilet and sink. Showers were available to use just two doors down the hallway. All facilities were very clean, there was not a lot of space but certainly enough to store clothes and other bits for a couple of nights. All four beds were made with bedding in the distinctive YHA green, each bed had it's own power socket and nightlight and there was an additional double socket near the doorway. This was ideal for charging the varied tech devises we had brought along, from phones to cameras and the ipad.
The reception area offered a comfortable space to enjoy a drink and peruse leaflets of the local attractions and walks or read a book and the gardens outside had seating to enjoy the views in brighter weather.
Things to remember when staying at YHA Malham
Bring your own towels - they do have then available to hire for £2 but why waste money?
Bring toiletries, despite being very welcoming and comfortable YHA is not a hotel so you wont get those posh little toiletries. We remembered most of ours but forgot soap so had to use shower gel to wash our hands!
Bring evening entertainment, there is a communal lounge room that has a TV and some games for the children, but once they are in bed you are confined to your room so bring a pack of cards, a board game, book or take advantage of the free wifi and bring your tablet to watch your favourite show on Netflix.
If you are self catering, bring food! The village of Malham is beautiful but it only has a few basic shops that are centered around walking equipment and souvenirs, You are looking at a 15 minute or so drive to the nearest small supermarket.
We have really enjoyed our first family stay in a youth hostel and would definitely do it again! With family rooms from just £29 per night it's a great way to explore the UK on a budget. We love camping and enjoy sleeping outdoors but sometimes it's nice to have more than canvas over your head, especially as it gets towards the colder months. It's also much easier not to have to pack up all our camping equipment in the car if we're only going away for one or two nights. The addition of free wifi allowing me to upload photographs from our adventures really made a difference to the camping trips we usually have where I can feel a little cut off from social media.
As for the area, we are smitten! We really enjoyed the walks we did with the children, but have talked about returning as a couple to do some more challenging trails. We've even discussed staying in one of YHA Malham's camping pods for our wedding anniversary next year.
If you are looking for a comfortable, friendly place for your family to sleep while exploring the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales then YHA Malham fits the bill perfectly and if you have yet to explore the beauty of Malhamdale then I would wholeheartedly recommend a visit.
I will now leave you with a quote from Bill Bryson that we saw over the weekend;
"I won't know for sure if Malhamdale is the finest place there is until I have died and seen heaven (assuming they let me at least have a glance), but until that day comes, it will certainly do."
We were invited to stay as guests of YHA, we paid for all our food and all images and opinions in this post are our own.