Littlehouse Media

Two Scottish youth hostels celebrate landmark anniversaries

SYHA Hostelling Scotland appeals for special memories and cherished moments of Gairloch Sands and Ratagan Youth Hostels as they both reach an 85-year milestone in May


This month both Gairloch Sands Youth Hostel and Ratagan Youth Hostel celebrate their 85th birthdays having been part of the SYHA Hostelling Scotland (SYHA) network from the earliest days of the organisation.


As part of the celebrations SYHA would love to hear from hostellers, around the UK and further afield, who have spent time at two of their longest running youth hostels and have memories, amazing experiences or interesting photographs they would be willing to share with keen hostellers past and present.


Located on the on the north shore of Gairloch, Ross-shire, Gairloch Sands (Carn Dearg) Youth Hostel, a former hunting lodge built in the 1880’s is one of the oldest youth hostel buildings within SYHA’s network. It was gifted to the organisation in August 1931 by Lady Mary Ogilvie and opened to paying public on 13 May 1932, just a month after it was gifted.


On opening, members were asked if they could please refrain from bathing during church hours and reminded that the small number of resident staff would not make their beds, clean their shoes or tidy their rooms. Whilst the bathing ban may have been lifted staff have still drawn the line at cleaning shoes! At the end of 1933 a memo claimed that 276 cyclists, 110 motorists and 564 pedestrians had used the hostel.


Opened a day later on 14 May 1932, Ratagan Youth Hostel in the North West Highlands near the Isle of Skye, is a very popular choice with hostellers and has one of the best youth hostel locations in Scotland. Set on the shore of the beautiful Loch Duich the hostel enjoys unrivaled views of the magnificent Five Sisters mountain range. It was one of SYHA’s first rentals from the Forestry Commission, housed in a bare 19th-century farm building.


Unlike today, Ratagan’s initial attraction, was undeveloped in the extreme. Writing in the Scotsman on 22nd October 1932, a journalist referred to it as the ideal hostel for the Highlands: ‘Spartan-like in simplicity; it should aim at the primitive character of an Alpine hut rather than the cheery cosiness of the Lowland cottage.’ Another correspondent wrote: “Hostellers had to be a hardy breed, resistant just as much to icy draughts as to invasive midge swarms.’


The team at SYHA are always keen to hear about guests’ special memories, chance encounters and amazing experiences at their youth hostels. To celebrate both of these major milestones, they would love to hear from guests who have stayed at either Gairloch Sands Youth Hostel or Ratagan Youth Hostel and have special experiences and treasured moments, including photos and short videos, they would like to share.


The SYHA team would be extremely pleased to hear from hostellers by email at [email protected]; by letter to: SYHA National Office, 7 Glebe Crescent, Stirling, FK8 2JA. Alternatively hostellers can share their moments on Facebook ( and Twitter ( using the hashtag #SYHAdventure.




Media contact:

Paddy Cuthbert | Littlehouse Media | E: [email protected] | M: 07913 951717 | 0131 526 3980


For downloadable images of Gairloch Sands Youth Hostel and Ratagan Youth Hostel go to:


Useful links:

SYHA Hostelling Scotland –

Ratagan Youth Hostel –

Gairloch Sands Youth Hostel –


SYHA on Twitter – #syhadventure

SYHA on Facebook –


For downloadable images of Ratagan Youth Hostel & Gairloch Sands Youth Hostel got to:


Notes to editors:

SYHA Hostelling Scotland is a self-funding charity operating a network of nearly 60 exceptional youth and affiliate hostels for the benefit of all those wishing to learn and experience what Scotland has to offer. Our unique sites provide affordable, comfortable, safe and quality-assured accommodation with a warm friendly welcome, local knowledge, activities and services for guests travelling around Scotland.


Members enjoy a range of exclusive benefits including dual membership of Hostelling International, providing access to more than 4,000 youth hostels in over 90 countries worldwide. Membership and guest overnight income supports our charitable youth programmes and the maintenance of the hostelling network, particularly in rural Scotland.

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