Charity severs link with small businesses

Taddington Camping Barn.
Taddington Camping Barn.

Businesses which provide low-cost access to the Derbyshire countryside could be forced to close after a charity withdrew its support.

Until now, the Youth Hostel Association has provided marketing and booking services for a handful of camping barns and bunkhouses across the county.

Taddington Camping Barn.

Taddington Camping Barn.

But, as the Matlock-based charity changes its business model to concentrate on larger hostels in popular areas, the smaller sites have found themselves squeezed out.

One of those which could struggle to survive is Taddington Camping Barn.

Its owner, Lesley Handley, says her family has been working with the YHA for over 20 years. She said: “We feel shocked and immensely sad that on such a major decision as this – affecting the livelihoods of many owners and their families – there was no advance consultation with any of the properties affected.”

Over recent years, barns and bunkhouses have become an important source of income for many farmers and landowners keen to diversify their businesses.

Our commitment to maintaining a network of hostels in rural areas has not changed.

YHA spokesperson

They range from simple ‘stone tents’ to plusher converted barns and can bring in a steady if not huge income.

Another Derbyshire-based business - the Matlock Bath based Independent Hostels UK (IHUK) - says they have been fielding calls from worried owners ever since the announcement was made.

They have put together a dedicated page for ex-YHA camping barns on their website so loyal users can still find them once their presence has been removed from the YHA website.

Another places due to disappear soon from the YHA map is Alstonefield Camping Barn, between Dovedale and Manifold Valley,.

Owner Teresa Flower said: “I appreciate all the help they have given me over the years and felt dismayed and confused that an organisation, whose charitable objective refers to helping all now wishes to abandon its camping barns.”

A spokesman for the YHA (England and Wales) said: “YHA is all about giving people opportunities to explore the countryside, the towns and the cities of England and Wales in a unique and safe environment.

“Our commitment to maintaining a network of hostels in rural areas has not changed.

“However, trends of where people want to stay have changed and, as a charity, we must ensure that every penny we generate goes back to ensuring the greatest positive impact on people who stay with us; particularly young people.”

The list of Ex-YHA camping barns in the Independent Hostel Guide can be found at https://independenthostels.co.uk/ex-yha-camping-barns.