TWO youth hostels earmarked for closure in South Lakeland have been rescued by new owners pledging to keep them open.

But the news comes as the Youth Hostel Association announces three further closures in the Lake District.

Kendal and Grasmere’s Thorney How hostels were to close in October 2011 after the YHA decided to sell the two sites to raise money for other projects.

But new owners have come forward and both parties want to continue running the buildings as hostel businesses.

MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale Tim Farron said: “I worked very hard to ensure that the YHA took responsibility in the aftermath of their announced closures. It’s a shame to have lost that network in Kendal and Grasmere.”

But he was critical of the news that Hawkshead, Helvellyn and Derwent-water hostels will be put on the market at the end of the summer, with 16 staff at risk of redundancy.

“The decision to close the youth hostel in Hawkshead is one that should be met with huge regret.

"The YHA plays a key role in bringing visitors to the Lake District, and by closing these hostels they are letting down the Lakes,” he said.

Mr Farron will speak to chief executive of the organisation, Caroline White about the closures.

Sam Littlechild, YHA spokesman, said it would cost them £2 million to refurbish Hawkshead to standards customers now expect.

“Those hostels need massive investment and as a charity we just can’t afford that amount of money.

“The Lake District has one of the highest concentrations of hostels in the country so it’s important that we maintain a presence here but those sites just aren’t financially viable.”

Ian Stephens, Chief Executive of Cumbria Tourism, said: “We would encourage any private investors recognising an opportunity here to come forward and express their interest as soon as possible.”

Gill Wilson, of the King’s Arms Hotel in Hawkshead, said: “We get hostel staff drinking here and guests of the hostel too who we’ll lose trade from, but really it’s a shame for the whole village.

"There’s no guarantees that whoever takes it over will continue it as a hostel and there’s no other accommodation like that around here.”