Photo ©Bob Shaw 2015

Essential info

Name of event: The Great Outdoors – Wasdale in summer
When: Saturday 23 – Saturday 30 July 2016
Arrival: 4pm-6pm, latest departure 11am
Where: YHA Wastwater Wasdale Hall, Wasdale, Seascale, Cumbria CA20 1ET
Access: The building can present some physical challenges for people with mobility difficulties. There have been issues in the past with access, and we would advise that if you have concerns or queries about this please contact Gerry Millar: 07941 877453 /
Alcohol: Wasdale Youth Hostel has a licensed bar selling local ales as well as a selection of wines and spirits. Licensing laws state that visitors are not allowed to bring or consume alcohol that has been bought elsewhere, so please respect this. The nearest shops are about 10 minutes’ drive away
Number of places available: 30
Bookings Coordinator: Jimmy MacSweeney, 15 Rankine House, Bath Terrace, London, SE1 6PL 020 7403 7251 / 07847 104860

The location and event

WASDALE! Looking up the length of England’s deepest lake to the fells at the far end, you get a taste of some of the most spectacular scenery to be seen anywhere in the world. Bob and Kirstie and all the staff of Wastwater Youth Hostel, not forgetting Jeff the dog, will be welcoming us back for another week of warm hospitality and delicious vegetarian food. In the long summer days there is ample time to go exploring among the valleys and fells of the western Lake District, taking low-level strolls or venturing high up into these beautiful hills.

There are opportunities here to go canoeing on the lake, wild camping, cycling, to visit local pubs for a roast dinner or to sample some of the local ales, go for a trip on a steam train on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, take a bracing dip in the cold waters of the lake or one of the tarns and streams — the possibilities aren’t limitless but many and varied. Other options are to take a drive to St Bees Head for bird-watching or just to explore the coastline, or you could walk to Santon Bridge for tea and cakes in the local tea-room. Exploring by car, there are charity shops in Egremont, and Whitehaven is an attractive local town. Slightly further afield is Castlerigg Stone Circle, which is well worth a visit.

All this in the company of 30 gay men, in the traditions of the Edward Carpenter Community, which has been running gay men’s weeks for the past 31 years. The events of the week are initiated and set up by those who are present — we all in some way contribute to the community as it develops through the week. Anyone can propose a walk, suggest a trip, or run a workshop of some kind. Wasdale isn’t just for walkers. We want to make the week inviting for those who might just want to relax indoors, be cosy with a book, play games, sit up late chatting, make new friends, talk seriously, share hugs and laughter ‐ and most of all to have fun with other gay men Indoor workshops in past gay men’s weeks have included massage, many different forms of dance, yoga, Mastermind quiz, meditation, Pilates, baking scones or sourdough bread in the self-catering kitchen — the scope is wide and creativity often astounding.

There is generally a cabaret evening or soirée later in the week, where there’s the chance to do some performance — sing a song, do a comedy sketch, play music, or recite a poem, for example. We generally have an auction in aid of the bursary fund, one evening, so do bring any items you might like to donate for this. There will be a keyboard, and electronic equipment for playing music. The organisers of the week — Dave, Jimmy and Gerry — are available if you want to know more about running a workshop, or perhaps help get materials for one, and how to access local facilities such as cycle hire. Then it’s up to all of us to create community. Come and join in!

Please note that although we have exclusive use of the youth hostel for the week, there are public footpaths running through the grounds, and members of the public may approach the hostel from time to time to make enquiries, or just passing through.

The breakeven cost of running the week is £345.00 per head, and as usual we have a sliding scale of charges according to your income. This price includes full board with great vegetarian food. For people on very low income or with additional costs there will be a limited number of bursaries available. If you wish to apply for a bursary (which could include help with travel costs) please send a message to Jimmy, when booking, explaining how much you can afford to pay. Applications will be referred to the ECC treasurer to ensure funds are available.

We will also reserve 10 spaces for first time attendees at an ECC event until 15th May, after which all places will become available to anyone on the waiting list. Note that bookings can fill up very quickly, once word gets around, so if you’re keen to come, book soon.

Please be aware that the Youth Hostel is in a beautiful but isolated spot. The nearest shops are about a 10-minute drive away, though a couple of supermarket shopping trips are usually arranged for forgotten last-minute items.

Please complete the electronic booking form or send a completed paper booking form to Jimmy. The YHA is now asking us to pay the full cost of the week well in advance, which is why we are asking for the full amount rather than a deposit. Please speak to Jimmy if you will have trouble paying in full in advance. Confirmations will be sent by email unless you don’t have an email address, in which case please send an SAE with your application.

Accommodation and facilities

Sleeping accommodation is in shared rooms with bunk beds and shared shower/toilet facilities.  All the bedrooms are on the first floor and access is by means of a staircase, which can present problems especially for those with mobility issues. Please check with Gerry or Dave before booking if you feel this may be the case.

Food and dietary requirements

A varied vegetarian menu is on offer, with a choice of dishes at all meals. There will be a continental breakfast, plus porridge. It is possible to provide for special diets if we know your requirements in advance. Please let us know when you book.


Living with a group of up to 30 others can seem daunting, so you will be invited to join a base group of four to six men, which meets for an hour each day. In the base group you can get to know a small number of men better, and share your thoughts and feelings about the week — as well as hopefully relate what is going well! There will also be a heart circle each day for those who prefer that to a base group.

The organisers


(L-R) Dave Tilley, Gerry Millar and Jimmy MacSweeney have a lot of experience of organising ECC events between them, and are the same team who organised the Great Outdoors at Wasdale last summer. We have a detailed knowledge of the area and can answer any travel or general enquiries. Jimmy will be handling all the bookings queries.

Travel to Wasdale

The Hostel is in a remote spot with the nearest rail station being Seascale, around eight to ten miles away.  We are usually able to collect you from the station on arrival, but it may be necessary to share a taxi if lifts cannot be provided.

NB: If travelling by car and using Google Maps or satnav, the CA20 1ET postcode brings you to Nether Wasdale, about a mile from the youth hostel. Please contact Dave Tilley for detailed travel instructions and a map. Full joining instructions will be sent out a few weeks before the event.

Accommodation and facilities

You can book your place online here, or download a paper form to send to the booking person. You’ll be asked to state how much you’re going to pay for your place, and how much you’ll pay now as a deposit. You can make your payment by cheque or bank transfer, and you should send it to us straight away to secure your place.
Payments for ECC events are on a sliding scale according to your income, and you’re invited to pay as much or as little as you can afford. The breakeven cost for this event is £345.00 and the rates for different income levels are shown below. We also offer a limited number of bursaries to help people on very low incomes. If you don’t feel you can afford the concessionary rate, we may be able to help. Please contact the bookings person first to see if a bursary place is available.