Ten great universities for climbers and walkers

Posted by Tina Gardner on 30/10/2013

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
 
 
Relevant courses: Sports Science (Outdoor Activities) degree (BSc) with the opportunity to work towards qualifications in mountaineering and other disciplines.
 
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. 
 
Student clubs: University of Bristol Mountaineering Club /  University of Bristol Explorers Club and University of West England Climbing Club.
 
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.
 
Relevant courses: Outdoor Leadership BA Hons / BSc Hons among other courses in their Forestry and Outdoors faculty.
 
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.
 
Please note: not all of the clubs and societies listed in this article are affiliated to the BMC. Find out which university clubs are affiliated to the BMC.
 
Post by BMC.

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.



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21
Anonymous User
31/10/2013
A lot of these university choices mention only climbing, for what is meant to be a climbing AND walking article. :P
Anonymous User
31/10/2013
Surely we shouldn't choose a university for the quality of it's clubs but on the quality of it's teaching?
Or is that why there are so many unemployed graduates now? Rubbish, useless degrees for employment in the real world. What a ridiculous article.
Anonymous User
31/10/2013
In reply to 2). It's its. Not it's. Back to uni please.
Anonymous User
01/11/2013
There is an active Mountain Walking club in Bangor, that appears to have been missed.
Anonymous User
01/11/2013
Maybe the commentator who posted comment number 2 chose to do their English degree at a University chosen for its proximity to the crags! Even though they have made a common mistake with the misuse of apostrophes, their comment is still valid.
Anonymous User
01/11/2013
What about Heriot-Watt? The EICA is just down the canal and there are plenty of hills for walking.
Anonymous User
01/11/2013
"University of Central Lancashire (Penrith)"

Penrith being about 62 miles (as the crow flies) from UCLAN's base in Preston....
Anonymous User
01/11/2013
Hi Team,
Could you please add a link to 'Leeds University Hiking Club' under the sub-section for Leeds Uni? The Hiking Club is a big and active walking and mountaineering club with more than 100 members. We would really appreciate this. Thank you
Committee
www.luuhc.com
Anonymous User
01/11/2013
Not a Scottish uni in sight! Where are most of the mountains of the uk? British or English Mountaineering council? I'm English living and uni educated in Scotland (due to the mountains) by the way.
Anonymous User
02/11/2013
I think you have missed off Falmouth University - not only is it better placed for the South West Coast Path & the surf than Plymouth (by being nearer) - but it is the only location that runs the Performance Sportswear Design course: which has produced so many of the designers of the outdoor industry (Rab/ ME/ Lowe Alpine/ Finisterre/ Montane/ TNF/ Patagonia/ Arcteryx/ Sprayway/ adidas/ Jottnar/ Troll, et cetera)... Falifornia is where it is happening!
Anonymous User
08/11/2013
You have missed University of Huddersfield! We have a well established and highly experienced club, go to a climbing gym that is set by one of the best youth boulderers in the world, and are well situated for all the lovely Yorkshire grit, North Wales and the Lakes! Not to mention the Great teaching :)
Anonymous User
09/11/2013
Also missing from this list is University of Wales Trinity St David. The Carmarthen campus has two of the longest established undergraduate and post graduate outdoor education programmes in the UK.

Our programmes have about two days a week of outdoor activity focussing on academic topics such as facilitation, environmental issues and curriculum development . We make good use of the local environment for hill walking, coasteering, climbing, caving, mountain biking and kayaking. We have a strog expedition programme that has recently included hot rock in Kalymonos, Costa Blanca and Sardinia: winter skills in Scotland, France and Norway, where we have an exchange programme with Telemark University. This summer we completed our first Alpine mountain bike trip.

The campus is only minutes from the Welsh Coast Path and less than 30 minutes from the Brecon Beacons and the bike trails at Brechfa. Climbing on the Gower and Pembrokeshire is less than an hour away with local bouldering venues and caves all closer.

We have our own climbing wall, swimming pool and unlimited access to Llandysul paddlers for paddle sport on one of the many excellent paddling venues that surround us.

Picking up on comment 2) these outdoor education degrees (at whichever Uni) deal with issues of complexity and dynamism. They tend to use teaching methods based around critical enquiry, creativity and problem based learning. I would argue that these are the very skills that are needed in the "real world".
22/05/2014
Liverpool JMU.
Has a BSc in outdoor education, is one of the best unis for outdoor ed, has active mountaineering club (both climbing and walking) has awesome walls liverpool and the climbing hanger, has easy access to the lakes, peaks and north wales, not to mention the local crags, also its only a few hours from the cairngorms. Liverpool jmu is THE uni for outdoor stuff.
Anonymous User
23/05/2014
Number 2 claims there are many unemployed grads who've done useless degrees. Actually, grad unemployment is about a third that of 16-24 year olds generally, and much lower than during previous recessions. It's non-grads who're suffering. The graduate premium has risen in the last few years, whilst the proportion of grads going into professional & managerial jobs has remained boringly stable for two decades despite a massive increase in HE attendance. Graduates have rarely had it better.

Just thought you should know the facts, despite the disinformation in the press.
Anonymous User
23/05/2014
Isn't Swansea University closer to the Gower than Cardiff? Just guessing...
Anonymous User
23/05/2014
Bangor is the best as always...
Anonymous User
28/05/2014
Plymouth Uni is ok and everything, but if you're talking CLIMBING & WALKING it is all about The University Of St Marks and St Johns!!!

We are about 4 miles from Plymouth city centre (which is 4 miles closer to Dartmoor). Oh, and did I mention we have an amazing Outdoor Adventure Education department with world class lecturers running BA(Hons) Outdoor Adventure Education?! Climbing the Dewerstone and Navigating the Moor's is our bread and butter, but there are also a fleet of kayaks and mountain bikes for students to take full advantage of.

When studying at St Marks and St Johns you don't have to be an Outdoor Ed student to get involved; there are a wide range of extra curricular clubs for climbing, sailing, kayaking... Anything you're inner adventurer could need!

It is absolutely no wonder we are ranked 6th Nationally for Student Satisfaction (NSS, 2013) and 2nd best university for employability in the South West of England!

It's really never good to be far from Marjon.
Anonymous User
05/12/2014
Staffordshire University has a BSc Geography with Mountain Leadership Degree. The course, which has a limited annual intake, puts the framework in place for students to train and pass the Summer ML qualification whilst also studying BSc Geography. Year 1 covers the basics in lecture based classes, practical field classes and peer organised and mentored quality mountain days. In addition to the standard Geography field trips in the UK and Barcelona, a week's residential ML training, 6 quality mountain days per year, and the final 5 day assessment by an accredited organisation, is provided at no additional cost. There is a system of peer mentoring in place that gives the students an opportunity to plan their own mountain days and expeditions and mentor those in the years below. The university also has very active hill walking and rock climbing and is ideally situation on the edge of the Peak District with the Roaches a 30 min bus ride from the Campus in Stoke-on-Trent. http://www.staffs.ac.uk/course/09F81X90.jsp
Anonymous User
07/03/2016
Loughborough University have a very active climbing, walking and rambling clubs as well as a climbing wall, a climbing center near by. outskirts of Loughborough are nice to walk with a few parks not too far away. The club is always off to the peaks, north/south wales and the lakes. Definitely worth a mention. :)
Anonymous User
22/11/2016
Coventry University is currently at 110 members and runs trips every two weeks or so and regularly climbs at Warwick university's climbing wall as well as running trips to scotland and spain in the winter and the annual trip to the French alps for high altitude alpinism. They are very well situated in the country to runs trips to all extremities of the UK.

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