Nick Owen has been known to come down off the hill and straight into the kitchen – to cook breakfast for more than 30 guests.
As manager of the independent Elterwater Hostel in the heart of the Lake District, Nick has built up a fine reputation for great home cooking – especially at breakfast time.
But as leader of the Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team, his off-duty hours are unpredictable to say the least. Callouts can happen at any time…and the numbers of rescue calls is increasing.
Nick has been at Elterwater for more than 26 years, initially employed by the YHA. He stayed on when the Thomas family bought the hostel just over five years ago, and the new team has transformed the place.
Thirty thousand bed nights later, they have turned around a rather tired and run down hostel into a bright, comfortable and popular refuge for families, solo travellers and groups. The hostel, which has 38 beds in small dormitories and family rooms, now has completely refurbished washrooms and showers. There’s a new ensuite facility downstairs, plus new soft furnishings, carpets, mattresses and duvets as well as Wi-Fi throughout the hostel and individual bed-lights.
It’s in the perfect location. Elterwater is in the Langdale valley, a tiny hamlet with a lake of the same name, which is on a link road between Great and Little Langdale, and surrounded by magnificent hill country.
It’s favoured by walkers, climbers and runners; the Fell Runners Association use the hostel as a base for an annual navigational skills weekend. The bonus is that Nick and his staff team know the area intimately. They can suggest the best routes depending on the weather and on visitors’ needs.
Some guests just want to sit in the garden and potter around the paths near the village, others are fascinated by local history. First opened as a hostel in 1939, the building was originally a barn, thought to date from 1692. An adjoining cottage was once used by John Ruskin as a small lace-making factory.
During the Second World War the hostel was used as accommodation for workers of Shorts of Sunderland, who were involved in building flying boats on Windermere.
You can book to stay at Elterwater via the hostel’s website: http://www.elterwaterhostel.co.uk/