Wholehope 1966

Wholehope is situated on Clennel Street roughly 3 miles North of Alwinton.

In 1948, Mr Bob Jewitt propsed to the Northumberland and Tyneside YHA that a building should be converted into a basic youth hostel to allow walkers easier access to the hills of upper Coquetdale. The cottage at Wholehope was considered a worthy candidate and the council agreed to the conversion giving three conditions:

1 No more than £50 to be spent on refurnishment.
2 It would be run by volutary supervisors.
3 The repaired building would last for four years.

The work was completed suprisingly fast as they were overwhelmed with voluteers. One week end there were forty people staying in the building when it was supposed to only sleep twelve.

The converted hostel opened in April 1949. Then in the summer a local MP officially opened it by staying there over night. Often it would be full or overfilling as it gave access that much further into Upper Coquetdale. Yet it was always maintained in excellent condition by visitors. The operation of Wholehope hostel / bothy was overseen by Mr. Bob Jewitt. But in 1953 he married and moved away from the North East.

Mr Jewitt returned some years later to find a 'decrepid place posing as a bothy'. The building was no longer weather proof or tidy. Also the nature of the area had changed as the Kidland forrest had been planted. It is known that some locals had dug into their own pockets and paid for some minor repairs under the guidence of Mr Alan Thompson of Wooler.

In 1967 the Mountain Bothy Association (MBA) had become established and many of the locals that often stayed there had joined the association. Major repairs were needed to the building as many people were concerned of the condition of the building. In February and March 1967 Mr Bernard Heath wrote to the owner, Mr F. T. Walton of Flotterton, seeking permission for the MBA to repair and care for the building.

Things did not improve for Wholehope. There was no reply from the owner so no work could be carried out. Then Mr B. Heath moved away from the area losing the driving person behind the project. The final blow came in 1968 when Coquetdale was struck by Foot and Mouth disease. This declared the area out of bound for many months. During this time the winter storms damaged the fragile felt and tar roof beyond repair.

The last known corespondence by the MBA is a letter from Mr B. Heath to Mr A. Thompson.

'Together with three friends returning from the Ben Alder Project in Easter 1969 I visited Wholehope. What a mess! We dug out loads of snow and fallen plaster. We patched up the window in the end room, rebuilt both hearths and spent a barly comfortable and draughty night. Most of the windown need repairing, both outerdoors are missing, and the roof needs refelting. Plenty of visitors have visited have signed the book left there - several have referred to the grand idea of the MBA carried out at Wholehope.'

With that there was no more input from the MBA or YHA at Wholehope. The building fell into disrepair. Mr F.T. Walton demolished the building in the 1970s. Not much of the building remains although you can still make out where the building stood. There is also a series of railway sleepers on end still there. Presumably these where sheep pens.

The mantle piece was removed from the site and can now be seen at Kidlandlee just as you go through the gate up to the farm house.

Wholehope 1999

Back to top