Thursday, 9 January 2014

An Insight into Independent Hostelling and Volunteering.

Lazy Duck Hostel Nethy Bridge CairngormsIt’s difficult to encapsulate what is so unique and special about the people who own and run Independent Hostels, especially since even within our own SIH Membership every owner and every Hostel is so totally different!

A great insight as to why people run a Hostel is The Lazy Duck owned by Valery and David Dean.  The Lazy Duck is the smallest Hostel within our membership and totally delightful.  Like many of our members, there are other types of accommodation on site running alongside the Hostel to provide a sustainable and profitable enterprise.

For over 30 years The Lazy Duck has hosted climbers, walkers, paddlers, campers, cyclists, mountain bikers - solo travellers as well as families and activity groups. Fiddle and clarsach, guitar and pipes have played late into the evening and many a 'craic' has been enjoyed round the camp fires at the Hostel and on the camping ground.

David and Valery are very close to the natural environment and passionate about their local area.  Within The Lazy Duck they have created their own special way of life and, through Hostelling, share it in the most agreeable way with guests, volunteers and staff.  They are pleased to have found exactly the right couple, Juan Carlos and Joanna to take up new positions at the Lazy Duck as Managers this year. 

An outstanding aspect of The Lazy Duck is its Volunteer Programme.  Every year around now they start their search for International Volunteer Summer Helpers with 2014 marking the 10th year their programme has been running.  

David is delighted that during the past ten years they have had 58 lively, thinking, pro active, generous, meticulous & fast learning contributors coming for 2 months each, several of whom have returned to stay with them bringing partners or friends to find out whether they are still here and still offering great hospitality to guests. Certainly they are!

Volunteer Summer Helpers join them at their tiny 8 bed Hostel, 4-pitch lightweight camping ground, eco-hut and eco-lodge, Soay sheep, hens & waterfowl smallholding, woodland & polytunnel in the Cairngorms National Park.  Volunteers are comfortably accommodated in their own heated caravan with an outdoor kitchen and share in the idyllic life on-site with flexible hours on offer.  They are free to enjoy fresh hens' eggs and bread making, borrow a bike, explore the wonderful local area and join in with hostellers, campers and hutters for an unforgettable summer. The Lazy Duck aims towards a high level of environmental sustainability and are Green Tourism Business Award - Gold holders. There are places for non-smokers in the volunteer programme who support these ideals.

Last year’s Volunteers to The Lazy Duck came from Catalunia, Argentina, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Czech Republic and England.

The aim of David and Valery is that together with the Volunteers they encourage elemental, thoughtful and laid-back living for their guests. To achieve this, their chosen Volunteers are smart, energetic, flexible, considerate 'can do' people, good to be with at both work and play.

Somehow, unfailingly each year, The Lazy Duck Volunteer Team grows into working successfully to achieve this ideal for themselves and for the lucky guests who choose The Lazy Duck as their destination.  For information on how to be a Volunteer at The Lazy Duck, visit

Margaret Matthew, Scottish Independent Hostels

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