Choosing where to go to university? There’s lots of things to consider including the all-important questions of how close it is to the hills and crags, whether it has an active climbing and walking club and whether it’s just the right distance away from home.
With a little help from our Facebook friends, we’ve selected ten university locations in England and Wales to take a closer look at that are considered good or even ‘the best’ for climbers and walkers. Some are listed for their proximity to crags, hills and mountains and others for their specialised outdoors courses.
We’ve stayed south of the Scottish border, but for those who want to head to the highlands there’s even a University of the Highland and Islands with campuses including Fort William, Inverness and Skye. Also, whilst Oxford and Cambridge both have active mountaineering clubs, the UCAS form deadline for Oxbridge this year has passed so we’re not including them either.
To help you in your university challenge, here’s your starter for ten:
In no particular order (except they are listed alphabetically)
1. Bangor University
Location: On the doorstep of Snowdonia National Park, it is probably one of the most beautiful university settings in the whole of the UK. Close proximity for climbing and walking in Snowdonia and along the sea cliffs of north Wales.
Climbing walls: University of Wales Bangor, Indy Climbing Wall, Beacon Climbing Centre
Why you think it’s the best: “Bangor has loads of outdoorsy sports going on - kayaking and sea stuff and proper mountains. But don't take our word for it....check out this video by one of our students”
2. Bristol: University of Bristol or University of West England
Location: Great climbing nearby in Cheddar Gorge and Avon Gorge. Close to Dartmoor, Mendips and Brecon Beacons for top quality walking. Sea cliff climbing on the south-coast, Cornwall and Pembroke within a couple of hours.
Climbing walls: Undercover Rock, Redpoint Bristol, The Climbing Academy, Bristol Grammar School, UWE Centre for Sport climbing wall.
Why you think it’s the best: “Probably the second largest climbing community in the UK. Nice city with climbing, culture and the M5 on doorstep."
3. Cardiff University
Location: Well located for Gower Peninsula, Pembroke, Brecon Beacons, adventure trad just half an hour away at Ogmore and sport climbing in the south wales Valleys. The closest crag is just a 10 minute drive from the student union.
Climbing walls: Boulders, V9 Bouldering
Why you think it’s the best: “Really active mountaineering club and variety of climbing nearby".
4. University of Central Lancashire (Penrith)
Location: The Lake District is on the doorstep with the Scottish Highlands very reachable. Close to the Pennine Way.
Climbing walls: The Climbing Centre (university wall) and Eden Valley Climbing Wall, Penrith Leisure Centre
Student clubs: Not BMC affiliated
5. University of Cumbria, Ambleside
Locations: In the heart of the Lake District. Need we say more?
Climbing walls: Ambleside Climbing Wall
Student clubs: Not that we know of.
Why you think it’s the best: “Our uni is based in Ambleside. Hard to get much better than that.”
6. University of Derby, Buxton
Location: Situated in the heart of the Peak District with classic gritstone crags such as the Roaches and Stanage a stone’s throw away.
Climbing walls: On-site at Harpur Hill site in Buxton
Why you think it’s the best: “Our campus has a 58-acre outdoor pursuits centre”
7. Leeds University
Location: Best of Yorkshire right at your door.
Climbing walls: The Leeds Wall, The Edge Sports Centre, City Bloc.
Why you think it’s the best: “On excellent infrastructure cross points for most of the best areas in England. Aberdeen and Glasgow / Edinburgh for the Scottish highlands! And because of X84 bus which goes to Caley, Ilkley and Skipton."
8. Manchester: University of Manchester / Manchester Metropolitan University
Location: Easy to get to the Peak, Lakes, north Wales and the BMC office! There’s a reason the BMC is located here.
Climbing walls: Manchester Climbing Centre, Rockover, Awesome Walls Stockport
Why you think it’s the best: “Manchester is best of course. Easy to get to the Peak, North Wales or the Lakes and even traveling up to Scotland can be done on a Friday evening. Plus it has a friendly and active climbing club”.
9. Plymouth University
Location: South coast climbing at your fingertips. Great if you’re also into sailing and surfing. Walk out of your door and onto the South West Coast Path.
Climbing walls: No less than five walls nearby
Why you think it’s the best: “Dartmoor right on the doorstep, Cornish granite, East Devon limestone, the South West Coast Path…”
10. Sheffield: University of Sheffield / Sheffield Hallam
Location: Sheffield is often dubbed the home of climbers. Nestled on the edge of the Peak District the magical gritstone is just 10 minutes away.
Climbing walls: The Climbing Works, The Foundry, The Edge, Awesome Walls Sheffield and the Matrix (University of Sheffield's own wall)
Why you think it’s the best: “Several different decent walls within walking distance, and easily accessible climbing on god's own rock. Millstone, Lawrencefield, Burbage, Stanage, Rivelin, Higgar Tor, Froggatt, need I go on?”
Tell us your favourite
If you think your university should have been included here please let us know why in the comments box below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.
This article is part of BMC Student Season, a term's worth of student-friendly articles and social media banter to help students get the most out of climbing and walking. Please tell us what you think of the BMC by completing our young people survey aimed at 14-25 year olds.