By Peter Rosso, PhD student, Mechanical Engineering
While Bristol might have plenty of opportunities to escape from the urban life, giving us a chance to feel a bit closer to the wilderness, I often don’t find it enough.
As much as at times I might have enjoyed climbing in the gorge, nothing will ever replace the feeling of being between the mountains.
Once a fortnight, a group of students and friends from the University of Bristol set off from the student union on a Friday evening, chasing adventures around the UK’s national parks. This week Janine and Charlie organised a trip to the Lake district, stating, "it felt great to have the opportunity to organise a trip a year on from my first ever time going there on my first trip with UBES!"
I have been a member of the society for a few years now, and I still think that Friday evening is a rite of passage. New members walking around and introducing themselves by name, course and year, while committee and older ‘UBESters’ frenetically sorting out kit for the weekend.
After few hours’ drive, sweetened by cheesy tunes and chats with other passengers we are at the destination. The rest of the evening is short and busy. Some people are entrusted to prepare glorious cheese and pickle sandwiches for the Saturday walk. While most of the other people are sorting their sleeping bags out, a selection of older members are digging books and maps finalising plans for walks.
Before I can even realise I am awakened by the sound of Loreen – Euphoria echoing in the room accompanied by the voice of Cassia announcing that breakfast is ready. The early risers jump out themselves out of their sleeping bags, while my self and a few others take our time to slowly get used to the idea that it’s already morning and we’ll soon be on the mountains.
'For some people it was the first time they have ever seen snow, and others summitted a mountain they have never been on before'
Fuelled up on porridge, it’s time to head off to the mountains, but where will we head today? Is it going to be too hard for me? Am I going to have fun? The latter is the most important thing.
What the night before seemed like a confusing scene of people throwing maps at each other was, in fact, a calculated and coordinated choreography resulting in a series of walks of all flavours, making sure that everyone will have a chance to enjoy themselves in the mountains. Walks are presented and people get a chance to go on one of their main preferences.
A few hours later I am with Jodie in the Langdale, steadily walking to Stickle Tarn. The air is wet and cold, but this does not stop the girls from jumping naked in the water and having a lovely swim.
The day proceeds with one of the best walks I have been on in a while. While people chat, laugh and sing we walk across 5 Wainwrights. Throughout the day we experienced the whole spectrum of seasons. While the morning felt like a wet autumnal day, at lunchtime we were hiding from the wind in a group shelter and one of the first snowfalls of the season.
Then, while summiting the other peaks, we were blessed with sunlight which became even warmer on our way down. Nearly every walk that day was ending in a Pub, so we felt compelled to stop at the New dungeon gill for a hot chocolate before driving back.
Saturday evening on a UBES trip is fantastic. The room slowly welcomes one group at a time getting back from a day on the hills. People change into warm clothes, and after a good cup of tea they quickly find something to do.
Some people help out with dinner, while others make sandwiches for the next day. While all of this is happening, I overhear the new members excitingly sharing stories from the day. For some people it was the first time they have ever seen snow, and others summitted a mountain they have never been on before.
I asked a couple of friends what they thought about one of their first UBES trips and Bronwen said: “It was the best way to get away from the stress of university and meet new people in an environment where there is no pressure! Everyone is super chilled.”
The standard UBES dinner is a vegan-friendly slop. People start queuing up in the kitchen to form a procession to the glorious food. After a long day on the hills any food tastes amazing.
If all the chill moments have not been enough for people to chat and talk to each-other, the Social secretaries have it covered. Saturday evening becomes a display of even more UBES traditions.
During ‘organised fun’ over the years I found my self trying (and failing) to pick up a cereal box off the floor without using my hands, while being suspended on a rope fighting my friends trying to take their socks off, or bouldering around a table, or even around another person.
The next day repeats itself, but before leaving for the walk, all bags must be loaded in the van that transported them to the north. After cleaning and faffing about, a bit later that morning we are once again in the mountains. On Sunday I was on a walk led by Janine and Edgar. The group headed to hills south of the Langdale and the day went on quickly.
'It was the best way to get away from the stress of university and meet new people in an environment where there is no pressure! Everyone is super chilled.'
The drive back slowly brings the trip to an end, climaxing in yet another reunion with all the other parties in a Spoons somewhere in Leylands. Here everyone gets another chance to share tales from the day and eventually set off to the south.
Whether you are an experienced hiker, or just another student looking for a weekend in the outdoors, you can find most of the members at the Highbury Vaults on Wednesday plotting adventures of the future or exchanging tales of past adventures.
Featured Image: Peter Rosso
Come along to the pub or get in contact with the society and perhaps you’ll find yourself signing up for the next trip!