Scottish Youth Hostels Association

Membership Card

Ian Thomson's SYHA Membership Card

Scottish Youth Hostel Association  -  Membership Card  -  Ian Thomson

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Ian Thomson, Lake Maquarie, New South Wales, Australia


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   Scottish Youth Hostel Association -  Membership Card  -  Ian Thomson ©


 Scottish Youth Hostels Association




Ian Thomson

Lake Maquarie, New South Wales, Australia

Thank you to Ian Thomson for allowing me to reproduce this photograph of his SYHA Membership Card.

Ian wrote:


"Here is an old tattie pic of my Youth Hostel card, taken around 1947, bringing memories of travels around Scotland.  In those days, we travelled the byways with hardly a car in sight.  Petrol rationing may have been a factor."

The Borders

"When I started work at 15, and summer time came round, my pals and I would get the bikes out at Saturday lunch time, and head to the borders, up past Hillend, down to Peebles and Innerleithen, then over the hills to St Mary's Loch, to one of our favourite hostels Chapplehope.  Coming in late on Saturday evening, absolutely starving, out came the tinned beans, soup, spaghetti etc, with plenty of bread.

The hostels in these days were primitive, but a great spirit prevailed amongst hikers & cyclists  -  sing song late in the evening, we all mucked in around the cooking stove, sometimes washing in a nearby burn, before travelling on the next day.  The warden gave you a job to do, before you got your card back cutting up wood for the fire cleaning out the sleeping ward etc.

Sunday saw us back home.  Other great trips to the borders were Auchen Castle, over the Beeftub to Moffat, Melrose,, Thirlstane Castle and Broadmeadow in the Yarrow."

Around Edinburgh

"Around Edinburgh, there were great day trips on the bike.  South Queensferry was a favourite, up the Clermiston Hill, down the Queensferry Road, and when we reached the Hawes Brae, we use to lift our feet of the peddles and fly doon  past the inn at the bottom.

Sometimes, we took the ferry to Fife, other times we went into the Queensferry Estate, and with luck got a free trip over the Almond to Cramond in an old rowing boat handled by one of the estate workers who lived in an old house on the estate side of the river.  At high tide, the river was quite deep."

My pal, Sandy, used to have a great egg collection.  We would spend countless hours, hardly moving, watching where the birds nested.  Up the Lang Wang at Dalmahoy was one of our favourites.  We even tried to reach the jackdaws' nests, high in the quarry, but we never quite made it."

The Highlands

Great days.  We biked around the Highlands, as fit as a fiddle with many stories to tell."

Ian Thomson, Lake Maquarie, New South Wales, Australia:  June 5, 2009


I remember being a member of the YHA when I lived in Yorkshire in the 1950s, cycling around the North of England,  collecting all the 'stamps' on the membership card for hostels visited.

I believe that:

-  the maximum stay allowed in any one hostel was 3 nights

-  travel to and from the hostel had to be on foot, on cycle or by public transport.  Travel by car was not allowed.

-  the charge for a night's stay was 1s 6d *

-  there were 'duties' to be done by everybody who stayed at the hostel.  Those who were last to get out of bed were left to do the least popular 'duties'.

Peter Stubbs:  June 9, 2009


After reading my 'YHA' comments above, Ian Thomson added:

"Yes, three nights only.  As a boy, I think we paid 9d * a night."

Ian Thomson, Lake Maquarie, New South Wales, Australia:  June 10, 2009

* NOTE:  9d =  3.75 pence.    1s 6d = 7.5 pence.




Ian Thomson

Lake Maquarie, New South Wales, Australia

Thank you to Ian Thomson for contacting me again, and letting me see the final page from the 'Bed-Night Record' in his membership card.  This included stamps from Scottish Youth Hostels (in the order that he visited these hostels):

-  Ullapool

-  Badcaul

-  Carn Dearg

-  Carn Dearg

-  Inveralligan

-  Inveralligan

-  North Strome

-  North Strome

-  Loch Lochy

-  Glencoe

-  Dalmelly

-  Ardgartan

-  Lendrick

-  Auchen

-  North Berwick

-  Glendevon

-  Chapelhope

-  Auchen

-  Perth

-  Glenisla

-  Strathtummel

-  Garth

-  Perth

-  Carbisdale Castle

Ian added:

"I also had other sheets of 'Bed-NIght' stamps from Scottish Youth Hostels.  It was great fun getting a stamp.  Each one brings back memories:

North Strome (2 nights) - The ferry was closed for the Sabbath.

Ullapool  -  a small hostel on the waterfront.  The next day, we biked to Badcaul on Little Loch Broom through Dundonald.  We had to call at the warden's house to get the keys of the hostel.  It turned out we had the place to ourselves.

It was a glorious summer's evening so my pal and I climbed the hills just in time to see one of the finest sunsets looking to the summer isles.  To this day, I look back on one of the best views I have ever seen.

Carbinsdale Castle in Sutherland  -  a top favourite, where we were rowed across the river shin in a rowing boat, bikes as well."

Ian Thomson, Lake Maquarie, New South Wales, Australia:  June 10, 2009




Pat Reid (née Taylor)

Granton, Edinburgh

Thank you to Pat Reid who wrote:

"Ian Thomson's Scottish Youth Hostelling Association card and memories certainly brought back happy memories to me about when I went Youth Hostelling with school friends on two excellent holidays in my youth."

Treck Camps

"In 1959, as 1st year pupils at Lasswade Secondary School, we were offered the chance to go on what was called 'a 'trek camp' to The Trossachs.  The cost was £1 10/- (£1.50) for the week, Monday to Friday.  Mum managed to find the money to let me go. There were about 12 girls in the party, accompanied by a qualified school teacher and a student teacher."

Loch Lomond

"With our bulging rucksacks on our backs, we took the train from Bonnyrigg Station to Musselburgh where we had a health check to see that we were well enough to go.  Then off we went on the train to Callander.  I can't remember the name of the Hostel in Callander but over the course of the next few days we also stayed at Rowardennan Hostel and Loch Lomond hostel (which they told us was haunted - so we had a couple of scary nights there!).   Bunk beds in the dormitories were another new experience to all of us.

During the days, we walked over hills and down dales and forded streams, exploring the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The hostels gave us breakfast, then we all had to help clean up the kitchen and dormitories before setting out for the day.

A packed lunch was provided every day including juice but sometimes, if the teachers said it was OK, we drank from the clear Scottish streams. In the evening, after our tea and clear up, we either joined the other hostellers in the common room (where there was usually someone who could play the piano for a singsong) or we went out and explored the surrounding villages.  Great fun!

Rowardennan Hostel was particularly spectacular as it led right down to the loch where we paddled at the edge of the water.  While we were at Loch Lomond hostel, we were taken for a trip on the Maid of the Loch.  That was super.  The only comparison we had to the Maid of the Loch was The Skylark at Porty!   Home on Friday to Bonnyrigg Station, exhausted but very happy."

Isle of Arran

"The second 'trek camp' that I went on was to the Isle of Arran, the following year.  This time it cost £2 (a staggering sum for a week's holiday).  We got there, by train, boat and bus, to the first Youth Hostel at Brodick. Reverend James Currie (if memory serves me right) was the Minister there and he invited us, Edinburgh schoolgirls and teachers, to the Church/Village Hall for a film showing.  It was a projector and film of The Vagabond King  -  enjoyed by all.

When we left Brodick, we were were partly bussed to Lamlash because the distance was deemed too great to trek completely.  (We were only wee girls!).

However, when we did trek, no-one complained because the scenery was spectacular.  After Lamlash, we trekked to Whiting Bay and enjoyed the last two days, sunning on the beach and exploring.

A woman approached us on the beach at Whiting Bay and said 'Are you girls from Edinburgh? I recognise your Edinburgh accents'.  We all laughed and said, 'No, Bonnyrigg. But it's not far from Edinburgh'.

SYHA Cards

Great times and happy, happy memories. We were not issued with SYHA cards though. Maybe the Teachers were. Those things didn't concern youngsters. We were just there to enjoy ourselves and we certainly did.

Is there anyone else out there who enjoyed the school 'trek camps'?"

Pat Reid (née Taylor), Granton, Edinburgh:
Message posted in EdinPhoto guest book, Jun 10, 2009




Bob Sinclair

Queensland, Australia

Thank you to Bob Sinclair who wrote:


"When I joined the Scottish Youth Hostels Association - up at Bruntsfield Links, I paid my half-crown and the world opened to me."


"I can't remember all the places I went to but I do remember an old Army hut across in Fife, where the hut was filled with two of us, The warden took us a walk along the seashore and that was our entertainment."


"I went up the coast as far as Castletown and stayed in the hostel there. The warden was hardly ever there and everybody fended for themselves.  While there, I went to the pictures in Reay and missed the last bus back to Castletown. So I started walking.

Not far from the town edge, I was hailed from a wee small square car. "Oh Hullo! Where are you going?"
"To Castletown" I said. "Ach well chust you hop in and we'll be having you back in no time."  "Is that not right boys?"

Well, I got in.  We started off, and then the bottle came out and it was drinks all round (with one exception). How the driver missed the oncoming traffic I will never know because I'm sure he thought he was on a figure-of-eight track.

Let's forget about the attempts to change gear, the braking and the spilling of the 'Holy Water'.


"I then headed for Ullapool, a wonderful spot with the fishing boats and marvellous sands. The day I arrived was a Sunday which is a 'no, no'.

I had to have the warden open up especially for me, and I had next to nothing in the way of provisions. I did have one small packet of corn flakes and a half-eaten fruit loaf. 

'Could I buy a pint of milk?', I asked.  'No!, you could not!' came the serious reply.   But if you chust happened to be going past Mrs Mackay's back door, and you chust happened to see some milk, and you chust happened to take some, then you would chust have to go back tomorrow and pay for it'.  I found out where Mrs Mackay lived.

In Ullapool, I met up with an Ozzie and a Kiwi and they broadened my horizons."

Carbisdale Castle

"Being behind time, I took the train part of the way towards Carbisdale Castle.  The train journey had a bit of interest.  Part way, there a woman on a hillside.  She took a white tablecloth off her washing line and started waving it in the direction of the train. 

The train pulled to a halt and somebody came running down to the train and a parcel was uploaded.  It could have been rabbits for the driver or just mail.

For those who have read any of Lillian Braithwaite's books this practice in the 1950's might ring a bell

In Carbisdale I think I was in room 420 which might give you some idea of how large this place was.  And it was always nice to say that at one time you stayed in a Castle.


"Oban was my last port of call, and it was there that I found out the pecking order for hostellers in terms of bed preference:

-  walkers, first

cyclists, second

motor cyclists, third

car travellers, last.

It seemed a fair system. It was there that I met some unusual Youth Hostellers - a sixty year old couple of hikers."

"All power to the SYHA"

Bob Sinclair, Queensland, Australia:  January 12, 2010