About Us

Who are Chelmsford YHA Group?

We are a social group, based in Chelmsford, Essex, UK, interested in Youth Hostelling, the countryside, walking and other outdoor activities. Run by and for its members, the group aims to promote interest in, and enjoyment of, Youth Hostelling.

Some of us in the Lake District We meet most Wednesdays at the YMCA in Chelmsford, to plan hostelling weekends, and for quizzes, games, slide shows, talks and other activities.

We have weekend trips once a month to hostels around the country, and occasional longer trips. Most trips are centred around hill-walking. Popular destinations include Wales, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands. But that's not all!

We have a local walk about once a month, usually on a Sunday and including a pub lunch. Cycling, climbing, backpacking, skiing, orienteering, theme parks, sailing and trips to the seaside have all featured in our programme. Other social and outdoor events are held, such as picnics, barbecues, treasure hunts, sponsored events, skating, visits to the theatre and cinema...

Why should I join?

If you want to join our Wednesday meetings or come away with us on weekend trips, you need to be a member of the group. We ask our members to pay a small subscription to cover expenses involved in running the club.

Members also receive our monthly newsletter with full details of all coming events and the people to contact, including Wednesday meetings and weekend trips. There is also news and stories about the groups activities. Everyone is encouraged to contribute articles about recent club events or other topics of interest.

How do I join?

Just come along to one of our meetings (see programme). Or if you prefer, submit our Enquiry Form and we'll send you a membership application form together with details of how to pay the membership subscription.

(Membership of the Local Group is separate from national YHA membership)

How much does it cost?

We ask our members to pay a small subscription to cover expenses involved in running the club.

The current Local Group membership subscription is £20 per year (or £10 for those of limited means), but if you're new to the group we won't ask for any money for the first week or two, to give you a chance to find out what we're like!

The subs rate includes postage of the monthly newsletters to members who are unable to collect them at a meeting. Non-members will be expected to pay an additional £5.00 for any trip they come on, unless they decide to join.

See also Cost of Trips and Cost of Evening Events

Does it matter how old I am?

You don't have to be a youth to stay at a Youth Hostel! Most of our members are aged between 30 and 80, but there are no age limits and everyone is welcome. (Under 16s, however, need to be accompanied by a responsible adult when we go away).

Do I need to live in Chelmsford?

No. Although the Group is based in Chelmsford, we have members all over Essex and surrounding counties, and a few further afield. If you can't get to Wednesday meetings, we will post our monthly newsletter to you so you know what's going on.

What do you do on Weekend Trips? For a weekend trip we usually travel on a Friday evening, staying at a hostel for Friday and Saturday nights, and return on Sunday evening, or on the Monday if it's a Bank Holiday. Transport is usually by members' cars, sharing petrol costs. We do our own cooking as a group.

Over breakfast each day we'll discuss possible walks and other activities. It's very informal, but usually there'll be a variety of ideas so you can choose what suits you, from a stroll to the local pub, to a full day's mountain hike. And of course you're free to go off and do your own thing if you want, but please let someone know what you're doing.

How much do they cost? The newsletter will usually give an estimated total cost for the weekend. This is an approximate guide for the convenience of members only, and includes hostel beds, meals and petrol contribution.

A typical weekend away usually costs between £60 and £100 (including hostel, food and petrol), depending on grade of hostel and distance travelled. A week in Scotland usually works out at not much more than £300 each. ...but don't forget some spending money for pubs, tea shops etc!

One of our main aims is to keep trips "cheap and cheerful", so allowing even those of us on limited budgets to come along and join in!

How do I book?

The programme information will usually specify a deposit for each trip. We will not reserve a bed for you until you have paid the deposit, which is non-returnable. Pay the treasurer at a Wednesday meeting, pay by Bank Transfer or PayPal (details in the newsletter) or post a cheque (payable to "Chelmsford YHA Group") (address is in the newsletter). Normally we need deposits at least four weeks before the trip.

The programme also gives the telephone number of the organiser of each event. Contact them if you need any more information.

Do I need to be fit?

We have a variety of members, from slugs to supermen. We will often split into smaller groups depending on want different people want to do. Walks can be any length, but mostly between 5 and 10 miles. And there will often be some people who don't want to walk, and will go sightseeing or visiting other attractions.

We do not have qualified instructors or leaders. It is up to you to judge what activities are appropriate for you.

Do I need to have my own transport?

No. We usually operate a lift-sharing scheme for trips. Please let the organiser know if you need a lift, or are willing to drive and offer lifts to others. A few days before the trip the organiser will try to put you in touch with someone you might be able to share a lift with.

Petrol contributions calculated from the mileage travelled are collected from everyone sharing lifts, and shared out amongst the drivers.

Are families welcome?

Yes. We have several members with children of various ages. Many hostels may have private family dormitories available. At others you will be in single sex dormitories with other people; in this case children need to be 5 or over.

Obviously trips that involve long journeys or more serious mountain walks may not be suitable for younger children, so discuss with the organiser if you need more information.

Hostel beds are cheaper for under 18s.

What meals can I expect?

You don't need to bring your own food, except for any extra chocolate or snacks you might want to carry in your rucksack.

The organiser of the trip will find volunteers to do shopping and cooking for the group. We cook breakfast at the hostel in the morning, and make sandwiches for lunch. And in the evening someone will usually cook a meal for the group - typically a large pot of something simple but filling, such as spaghetti bolognese or curry. Everybody is expected to lend a hand with preparing food, washing up etc. Communal cooking is all part of the fun, and a chance to get to know people!

We can usually be flexible for vegetarians or special dietary needs, but please discuss in advance with the organiser, and help the cook preparing it.

Note that on evenings when we're travelling food will not be provided. You may need to buy a meal at a service station or chip shop, or bring your own supplies.

What should I take on a weekend?

YHA hostels provide sheet sleeping bags, pillows and duvets. At other accommodation you may need to bring your own sleeping bag - check the details in the newsletter.

You will need to bring a towel and personal washing things, a change of clothes, and a torch may be useful. For walking you will need comfortable boots, a small rucksack, warm clothes, a water bottle, waterproofs, hat and gloves.

For a useful checklist, see our kit list.

What do you do on Wednesday Evenings?

We have something on every Wednesday evening. Once a month it will be a committee meeting to plan future events, usually held online on Zoom; everyone is welcome to join in the discussion. New faces and new ideas are always welcome!

Sometimes we meet at a local pub or restaurant, and in the summer we might have some evening walks, cycle rides or play games in the park. Slide shows are some of the most popular events, when members have visited exotic locations. On other Wednesdays recently, we've had quizzes, competitions, play readings, charity auctions and guest speakers. We've also had badminton, ten-pin bowling and swimming evenings. And new ideas are always welcome! Many of our Wednesday meetings are now held online using Zoom.

See the current programme for more details.

Where do you meet?

Please check the Programme of Events for locations of our Wednesday meetings. Note that many of our meetings are now held online using Zoom - joining instructions are in the newsletter.

How much do they cost? Wednesday evenings are usually free for members. Occasionally there will be a small charge if we have a special activity, check the programme for details.

Does it matter if I can't come on Wednesdays? No. We have lots of members who don't come on Wednesdays, either because they live too far away, or because they have other commitments. If you don't come, our monthly newsletter will be posted or emailed to you so you can keep in touch with everything that's happening.

And now that some of our meetings are held online using Zoom, you can join in even if you don't live nearby.

What is the YHA?

The Youth Hostels Association (England & Wales) opens up new horizons, whatever your age! With an exciting choice of 250 Youth Hostels, all providing excellent low-cost accommodation, YHA helps you discover the varied and beautiful landscapes of England and Wales. Above all, it's a fun organisation that cares for people and the environment and presents a great way to travel and meet friends.

The Association was originally set up in the early 1930s to provide accommodation for walkers and cyclists. Today, YHA has a much wider appeal, with over 320,000 members and over 2 million overnights spent each year. YHA attracts people with a whole range of interests, from climbing, caving and canoeing, to juggling, photography and wine-tasting.

YHA is affiliated to the International Youth Hostel Federation - the largest travel organisation in the world. This means that your YHA membership entitles you to stay at over 5300 Youth Hostels in more than 58 countries. So, wherever you decide to visit, you can always stay with YHA!

What is a Youth Hostel?

You'll find Youth Hostels in cities, towns, the coast and countryside--in fact almost anywhere you choose to visit! Each Hostel has its own character and charm, for instance, you might choose to stay at a ghostly Norman castle situated on the edge of the Forest of Dean, a Victorian Carrstone house on the Norfolk Coast, or perhaps a former shepherd's bothy in the Lake District is more your style.

Your Accommodation Your stay will be in a comfortable bunk-bedded room or dormitory, sharing with people of the same sex.

Bed Linen Your overnight fee includes the use of a freshly laundered sheet sleeping bag. Either this, your own clean sheet sleeping bag, or two sheets and a pillowcase must be used for reasons of personal hygiene. Sorry - no down or synthetic filled bags are allowed except at some unheated Simple Hostels during winter months (check with the Warden first). A pillow and duvet, or blankets, are also provided.

Please Be Considerate Please only play radios and cassette players where nobody minds and not in dormitories.

Smoking in Hostels There are some 'no-smoking' Hostels. All other Hostels have areas specially set aside for smoking. In view of the many health risks linked to smoking and passive smoking, the YHA asks those who smoke to think of the comfort of others.

Helping to Clear Up To keep prices as low as possible, Wardens may ask for help with simple household tasks, like washing up and you are asked to clear up after yourself.

Youth Hostel Staff are there to make sure that you enjoy your stay. They can help with any problem that may arise and have the authority to take whatever action is required to ensure the proper running of the Hostel.

How do I join the YHA?

For information about the YHA, visit www.yha.org.uk.

Is there a Hostel in Chelmsford?

We are a youth hostelling club, not a youth hostel. Unfortunately, there is no youth hostel in Chelmsford, and all the YHA hostels in Essex are now closed.

Please see Visit Essex for information on local accommodation.