Location: Lydney, GL15 6RG, Gloucestershire, England
"A walk on the wild side with the YHA…"
If you're a single parent with one or two children you can't beat the adventure of youth hostelling. Most have family rooms, roaring fires and plenty of people to talk to after your child has gone to bed. We planned a route taking in 4 hostels in South Wales and the Forest of Dean, including one in a 13th Century castle (St Briavels)! My son was 8 and I planned the journey carefully to take in a bit of walking and public transport to get around. Food was easy - many hostels provide food or you can shop as you go. I did my homework so I could tell Tom about the local history, stories and legends (that's his thing). If the weather was wet we lurked indoors and played Monopoly with other hostellers. Luckily, it was mostly a sunny April. Every day was a new adventure and Tom even enjoyed the jobs given him by the warden - things he's less keen on at home! We explored the glorious countryside around Offa's Dyke and the Forest of Dean, met horses, goats, chickens - even a small herd of llamas! The highlight was a lovely evening in Welsh Bicknor when we all gathered round a log fire and told ghost stories, sang songs and told jokes until my boy drifted off into blissful sleep and was carried to bed - and I could the rejoin the company for a glass of wine. Essentials to take with are a mobile phone loaded with all the hostel numbers and a couple of hot water bottles - hostels are not always as warm as you could wish. We both enjoyed ourselves so much that we did several similar holidays taking in the Outer Hebrides and the Yorkshire Moors, among other places. Many hostels also do special Christmas gatherings - ideal if your family is too small to make much cheer at home. Hostelling offers basic but sufficient comfort, a room of your own and as much socialising as you want. It teaches your child about other people and the tales they have to tell,self-sufficiency, confidence and a sense of adventure. There is plenty in it for the adults too, especially as the day is not over when they go to bed and you are not stuck on your ownsome. It's also very good value for money - these days a family room plus evening meal will cost you about £45 a night. A four night break including public transport, food and extras set us back only £250.