The manager took pity on us and offered us a barn with clean straw by way of accommodation.
Just after the war youth hostelling became very popular. Several of my friends in various Income Tax offices would meet at the Haymarket, Newcastle. Unfortunately, we all worked on Saturday mornings, so that it was not a very early start to the weekend.
My first experience in March 1948 was at the youth hostel in Alnham, Northumberland. We took the first available bus to Rothbury but it was late when we began hiking to Alnham and quite dark long before we got there.
The next morning was a revelation! The youth hostel was a very old Pele Tower with massive walls, very atmospheric. As I stepped out of the front door the smell from the moor really hit me. There had been a light fall of snow and the result was magic. I had always been a country lover, but this was something else and the moors became my passion. We hiked all over, sampling all the hostels convenient for bus travel, though sometimes we walked too far.
Once my friend Joyce had booked a place in a remote area, which was really a shepherd’s bothy. It was a last minute decision and she said that I could share her bunk if the hostel was full. Four of our friends decided to join us and we hiked from Rothbury to Alwinton, following a moorland road for some miles further, in the pitch dark. By the time we got there we were exhausted and found that it was packed. It was a Whit weekend and lots of people had the same ideas we did. Though Joyce had a “bunk” booked we couldn’t stay without our friends and there wasn’t even floor space. Back we went to Alwinton but the “Rose and Thistle” was fully booked too.
As we all collapsed on the floor the manager took pity on us, and gave us a hot drink offering us a barn with clean straw by way of accommodation which was gratefully accepted. The barn was open sided and the wind whistled round us throughout the night, although we covered ourselves with straw as best we could. It was bitterly cold and we were glad to get moving at day break. We had intended going further but when we walked to Glanton we found the accommodation situation was no better so we accepted defeat and caught the bus home.
We had many happy adventures together before we finally disbanded and went our separate ways.