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best uni options for clmbing

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 Bo Clay 03 Jul 2024

hi, 

im a 17 year old female, very psyched sports climber and boulderer. i have grown up in sheffield but want to move away for uni which is tricky because i cant see anything comparing to peak grit. so far ive been looking at edinburough, leeds and bangor. not really into clubbing just want a guaranteed strong climbing scene, can anyone give some input on climbing life at these unis/other possibilities. thanks

2
 Abr 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

How about Bristol….good city and in reach of lots of climbing!?

5
 Dave Todd 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

I know it's just over the hill from Sheff, but have you thought about Manchester?  Good(ish) access to N Wales, Lakes etc.

 kathrync 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

I went to University at Bristol.

There is climbing in the city limits - very different from what you are used to in the Peak District, but you can climb easily pretty much whenever you want.

What I really liked about it, though, was that you can get away for weekend trips to a wide variety of places. Pembroke, N Wales, the Peak District, Dartmoor, N Devon and Swanage/Portland are all within a sensible distance for a weekend away. If you are ok with a slightly longer drive, or have a long weekend, that expands further - for example the Lake District, Yorkshire and Cornwall become accessible.

At the time I was there, the University of Bristol Mountaineering club was very active, and facilitated getting away to all of those places as well as doing winter weekends in Scotland and trips to Lundy. I can't comment on whether that is still the case - climbing clubs wax and wane over time, and my information there is more than 20 years out of date now.

Likewise, there was a good climbing wall scene while I was there, but that is also likely to have changed (some new facilities and changes in ownership since I left) and I don't know what it is like now.

Finally, with my grown-up hat on and speaking as a lecturer in a University, do make sure that the University is fulfilling your academic requirements as well  

In reply to Bo Clay:

Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Or say sod it, go all in, Chamonix:

https://www.univ-smb.fr/en/

1
 Welsh Kate 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

"Finally, with my grown-up hat on and speaking as a lecturer in a University, do make sure that the University is fulfilling your academic requirements as well"

That's pretty much what I was going to add as well! Wise words from Kathy; there's no point in going somewhere with awesome climbing if the course sucks or isn't what you need / want. 

Good luck with your searching / applications!

1
 McHeath 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

There was this informative thread about Bangor Uni/climbing a few months ago:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/destinations/bangor_uni-766222?

 ExiledScot 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

In a world where all uni courses are equal then Bangor.

I'd factor in accommodation costs and ease of travel to climbing. Again Bangor is winning. 

Message Removed 03 Jul 2024
Reason: inappropriate content
 ExiledScot 03 Jul 2024

In reply to wiwwim:

Who needs gigs when you've got the Octagon(or whatever it's currently renamed)! 

 Tom Valentine 03 Jul 2024
In reply to ExiledScot:

Just pay attention in freshers' week when they tell you which pubs not to go in.

 CameronDuff14 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

I'm at St Andrews and we have decent access to all of Scotland and a very active climbing scene; but rent has got so ridiculous most of us can't even afford to live in town anymore which is a nightmare - so any of the Dundee unis might be a better shout in a similar place cos that's where you'll end up living anyway!

 Cake 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

I live in Sheffield, and I've travelled past Leeds to climb enough to be assured that the bouldering at Almscliffe and Caley are absolute class. Lots of other venues around too. 

I'm not that into sport climbing, but many decent Sheffield sport climbers drive regularly to the North Yorkshire Sport crags because they are so good. 

If I were you, I would want a current student at any of the universities to tell me what the student climbing scene is like. I think that none of them probably match up to Sheffield's, but all you need is a few similar people, right?

Post edited at 16:40
 Philip 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

Oxford.

23
 hang_about 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

Might I enquire what subject area you intend to study?

1
 jezb1 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

It’s a bit of a curveball and obviously doesn’t provide the full uni experience but Open University and then go wherever you want!

 Dave Garnett 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Philip:

> Oxford.

Nope, having done both I can definitely recommend Bristol!

In reply to Bo Clay:

Stay home, Sheffield is a well respected uni with climbing on the doorstep. 

Use the savings to fund trips away during the holidays.

Good education

Loads of weekend and evening climbing

Trips away

Well worth the compromise.

6
 Cameron94 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

I've maybe missed it but I've not clocked what you want to study? 

I went to uni in Fort William and for trad (provided the rain stays away), scrambling, mountain routes, bouldering and a small but developing sport scene then there's plenty to be had. The winter climbing and mountaineering are also great in the area and the ease of access to the cairngorms at 45-90 minutes driving, or north to kintail, skye, torridon, south to Glencoe etc. 

Best thing about Lochaber is the variety on the go. Bikes, skiing, canyoning, running, scuba, paddling, jumping off hills to fly back to the car it's really got most of it. 

The surf is rubbish. 

The nightlife is that of a highland tourist town, don't expect clubs but a pub crawl would see you at about 16 drinks. There's plenty young people and lots of keen beans. 

If uni reputation and a prestigious pedigree of alumni is high on the agenda then its not for you but it is the outdoor capital of the UK. Its produced an inspiring bunch of people in the outdoor sector and weekend warriors. 

I'd also consider Aberdeen, although I personally don't like the city very much. It has two unis and a very strong history of amazing climbers. 

One of my oldest friends was met through ukc because I mentioned that I was off to college on Skye and he got in touch. So I've offered my thoughts, goodluck and get after it. 

1
 Sam Beaton 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

Peak grit has better routes, but Yorkshire grit has better bouldering. So Leeds is a good call (if the course looks ok!)

3
 Arcturus 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

I’m a native of Sheffield city, born and bred and still very much a Sheffielder in heart and spirit although I left when I was 18 to become an undergraduate at a Scottish university for the principal reason of mountaineering on the doorstep and also the specialist course I wanted. I’d been a grit kid since aged 14 but wanted bigger mountains and winter ice. No regrets. After that I was a graduate student at Nottingham and that gave easy access to the Peak again plus a respected post graduate degree. So for me Sheffield, Scotland or Nottingham depending on the university’s suitability for your academic course and your personal inclination.

 kevin stephens 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

University is all about broadening horizons and new experiences and opportunities. You are 17. Grit may be ok and it will always be there. If you are a psyched sports climber you will know that the sport climbing close to Sheffield is a bit pants. As others have said quality of your chosen course delivery is important in choosing a university. Bangor or Bristol seem good sugestions. Spread your wings!

 Matt Podd 03 Jul 2024
In reply to ExiledScot:

I helped build the Octagon some 30+ years ago! Can't still be going. Bangor is a great place to climb - apart from the weather.

Maybe go to university in Spain?

1
 Patrick Surguy 03 Jul 2024
In reply to ExiledScot:

It went from Octagon to Cube to Trilogy; it’s losing more sides as the years go on! 
 

I’ve just finished my degree in Bangor and have chosen to stick around because of many things, including how good the climbing scene is! I don’t think you’d regret it!

 Tony Buckley 03 Jul 2024
In reply to kevin stephens:

> University is all about broadening horizons and new experiences and opportunities. You are 17.

I'd go to the best university that matches your academic interests and then work it out.  However, since you wanted information on climbing, I'd go to the place that offers you the most access to rock types with which you are unfamiliar and in locations you haven't yet experienced, such as sea cliffs.  Bristol comes out pretty well in that respect, with the Gower, north and south Pembroke, Devon and Cornwall all within striking distance.

T.

 Jon Read 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

Any of Bangor, Bristol, Exeter (Penryn Campus), Cardiff, Leeds, Lancaster, York, Stirling, Aberdeen would be fine for cragging. Edinburgh has always had a keen and active climbing club, despite the relative lack of local venues. Really, it depends on your course, of course.

 Neil Williams 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

Manchester is a great city and has the same access to the same crags just from the other side!

However choosing based on course might make more sense

Post edited at 21:29
 spenser 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Ennerdaleblonde:

Two points relevant to living at home while at uni:

The social experience is quite different to halls/ shared accommodation (the degree of freedom a person has will depend a lot on their relationship with their parents). Living in halls for a year helps a lot of people develop their independence while still living in a structured and very lightly supervised environment, it works better for some people than others though.

A smaller student loan would make it a lot more feasible to pay it off in future (consider that interest alone on a £50k set of loans with current plan 2 interest rates would necessitate a salary of £65k to keep pace with the interest being added to the loan).

 Andy Hardy 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

Given you're only *at* uni for 27-30 weeks a year, and will have long vacations for projects, I'd be looking for towns with decent training facilities, rather than being built on top of great cragging.

4
 JRS 03 Jul 2024
In reply to Jon Read:

> Any of Bangor, Bristol, Exeter (Penryn Campus), Cardiff, Leeds, Lancaster, York, Stirling, Aberdeen would be fine for cragging. Edinburgh has always had a keen and active climbing club, despite the relative lack of local venues. Really, it depends on your course, of course.

Plenty of climbing in S.Wales so Swansea might be another alternative. Not too big a city with easy access to the Gower, Pembroke, etc.

 cassaela 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

As others have said, from a purely climbing pov, I feel Bangor is the obvious choice. Sure Bristol and Manchester are fun places, great unis, but if you're trekking over to N Wales every other weekend, why not just plop yourself at Bangor for 3-4 years and never have to travel more than an hour for climbing. Plenty here for you to do in that time

A downside is there's only 2 climbing gyms, much less than some cities. The upside of the downside is that the climbing community gets concentrated in the 2 gyms, so the community is quite tight, and you'll bump into the same people over and over, which helps in making friends.

Good luck with your studies and hope you have a great time wherever you go.

 jezb1 04 Jul 2024
In reply to cassaela:

> A downside is there's only…

and it rains. A lot.

1
OP Bo Clay 04 Jul 2024
In reply to hang_about:

good question thanks for the reply

honestly havent decided yet, taking chemistry biology and geography and predicted A*AB

looking at some sort of biology degree, ecology, enviromental science/ forest conservation

Post edited at 10:51
OP Bo Clay 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Cameron94:

sweet reply!

honestly havent decided yet, taking chemistry biology and geography and predicted A*AB

looking at some sort of biology degree, ecology, enviromental science/ forest conservation

OP Bo Clay 04 Jul 2024
In reply to hang_about:

honestly havent decided yet, taking chemistry biology and geography and predicted A*AB

looking at some sort of biology degree, ecology, enviromental science/ forest conservation

 Tony Buckley 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

> looking at some sort of biology degree, ecology, enviromental science/ forest conservation

Of the places mentioned *that I know about* (that bit's important), Lancaster has always been strong in ecological and environmental science.  You should at least have a look at what they offer to see if it inspires you.

T.

 Mike-W-99 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

UHI in Inverness do courses along those lines.

 Doug 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Tony Buckley:

I'm maybe a bit out of date but Stirling (mentioned at least once above) has (had ?) a good reputation for ecology, environmental science etc and (from personnel experience) is well placed for climbing, both rock (including bouldering about a km from the campus) & winter.

 henwardian 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

One of my mates went to Bangor, he is a strong climber and I met him in Siurana on a club trip - there were plenty of people on the trip, so I'd say it sounds like a very active climbing club. And in terms of geographics, it is ridiculously close to functionally unlimited amazing climbing. The crags are so close that you could realistically get evening climbing in on the longer days of the year, or sack off an afternoon of uni.

Back when I was at Edinburgh Uni, the mountaineering club was very active with trips spread amongst rock climbing, walking/mountaineering and winter climbing depending on the season (nobody is realistically doing rock climbing or winter climbing in November in Scotland unless you get really, really unusual weather). There are a couple of nice spots you could get evening climbing done near Edinburgh and hmm, probably enough of them to keep you occupied for most of the length of a degree, but they are not infinite and the really good stuff is a fair bit up North, so more of a weekend activity. The Alien Rock indoor wall was always great when I worked and climbed there and you have the more expensive Ratho option which is world class (literally), but a bit of a trek on public transport.

can't comment on Leeds.

If you are a really motivated and strong climber, while you might find uni clubs a great place to start and find partners, you might also find that the pace and destinations of club meets are geared a bit more towards discovering the sport for the first time (at least at the start of the uni year), so, in addition to club meets, finding motivated people in the club and planning your own additional trips with that one person who has a car (actually, I hear students are all rich these days, so maybe they all have cars), is a great way to get more done and have more power to hit the crags _you_ really want to go to.

I hear the bouldering in Northumberland is supposed to be great (boulderers I know say this), so maybe Newcastle or Durham could be a possibility.

Disclaimer: I'm a trad climber, not a boulderer and although I've climbed a couple of times on grit, I don't get what all the fuss is about. I wrote the above stuff from a trad climbing perspective as I'm not really familiar with the bouldering and sport venues and I'm sort of assuming that mostly if there's loads of good trad, there will at least be bouldering too, if not also sport relatively nearby (pretty big assumptions).

 Ramblin dave 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Welsh Kate:

> That's pretty much what I was going to add as well! Wise words from Kathy; there's no point in going somewhere with awesome climbing if the course sucks or isn't what you need / want. 

Yeah. I'd agree with this - come up with a longlist of places that have a course that suits you (right subject, good reputation, suitable expected A-level grades, maybe good links to industry etc) and then narrow down based on the climbing scene and other social / extracurricular stuff. You don't want to spend three years living somewhere that cuts you off from what you enjoy and makes you miserable, but there are a plenty of unis with the scope to get a lot of climbing done so it's worth thinking about the course and what it'll mean for the next decade or so of your life, too...

 TobyA 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

I was going to suggest looking at Helsinki University or Aalto University (also Helsinki) as they offer full degrees in English, and there is a hardcore bouldering scene with both great indoor bouldering centres and real rock boulders all over the city and lots more as you go just beyond city limits. There is also now decent amounts of quality sport climbing as well. But, unfortunately since Brexit, it is no longer free - it used to be but now since leaving the EU, British students do have to pay fees. They are generally lower than here for first degrees, but when it was free, the difference could easily cancel out the cost of travelling there and back a couple times a year and for some Brits, it was cheaper to study there than here in the UK. 

So you can blame any old people who voted for Brexit for cutting off, or at least minimising that option!

2
 Tom Valentine 04 Jul 2024
In reply to TobyA:

Just imagine if the 18-24s had matched the old codgers' turnout what a difference it might have made but it obviously wasn't an important enough issue for  a lot of them to get off their arses.

8
 Tyler 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

Will you have a car? If not then you are going to be reliant on having a very active club or somewhere with lots of active climbers.

The best sport climbing in the UK is at Malham and Kilnsey and the closest uni to that is Lancaster (I'm not sure how active the club is).

Manchester has loads if walls and climbers and ok access to lots of crags.

I went to Swansea a few weeks ago, the ui is in a lovely spot really close to the beach and Gower has some ok sport crags.

2
 Tom Valentine 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Tyler: 

Cycled out from Bangor to  Llanberis after a morning's lectures, did a couple of routes on the Nose and back again.

Only did it the once, though 

 abcdefg 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

> hi, 

> im a 17 year old female, very psyched sports climber and boulderer. ... so far ive been looking at edinburgh, leeds and bangor.

I wouldn't consider Edinburgh for the kinds of things you're describing.

Post edited at 13:20
1
 hang_about 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

Bangor used to have a good reputation for ecology. We referred to the 'Bangor mafia' as they took over the world.

Lancaster also good - and close to the Lakes. UEA excellent for ecology of course but not the greatest climbing....

If you're going down the EnvSci route, look to see which degrees are accredited and how that fits with your future career plans. Some excellent EnvSci degrees are not accredited but this can be needed - I'm not an EnvSci person, but colleagues tell me this can be important for Environmental Impact work later. Might be wrong - happy to be corrected. 

 Doug 04 Jul 2024
In reply to hang_about:

Way back in the 1970s Aberdeen, Bangor & (I think) Durham were the only British universities offering taught MScs in ecology . I know when I first started work in nature conservation in Scotland in the 1980s there were a large N° of Aberdeen MSc graduates employed by the then NCC - an Aberdeen degree wasn't essential but did help a lot if you wanted to work for the NCC, although by the time I graduated it was NCCS (& soon after SNH).

But those days are long gone...

 LastBoyScout 04 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

Nottingham have/had 2 good outdoors clubs. Also easy access to the Peak - can get bus to Matlock, etc.

 tjekel 05 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

Innsbruck. Oh - sorry, other continent.

1
 ianstevens 05 Jul 2024
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

> Edinburgh or Glasgow.

> Or say sod it, go all in, Chamonix:

Best advice you could give any potential student IMO. Go to Europe (if you can), you’ll get treated much better and get to broaden your experiences! And if you study you often get an easier route to a residence/work permit after (assuming no EU passport).

3
 abcdefg 05 Jul 2024
In reply to ianstevens:

> Best advice you could give any potential student IMO. Go to Europe (if you can), you’ll get treated much better and get to broaden your experiences! And if you study you often get an easier route to a residence/work permit after (assuming no EU passport).

Perhaps. But also (and obviously I think), it depends on exactly what you're studying, and at what stage of studies you're at.

@ianstevens: what exactly was your own experience? Did you study abroad as an undergrad? A postgrad? Or a postdoc (etc.)?

Post edited at 21:42
 pencilled in 05 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

Only you know the crags you want to spend time projecting on, but for sport I wouldn’t rule out the South Coast. Bournemouth is decent for graphics and media I hear, Southampton more academic I suppose. As others have said though a central spot means you won’t mine anything out and you could do worse than Bristol for the variety within striking distance. There are two universities in Bristol offering a massive range of courses but it is very expensive to rent a house. Bangor’s not a bad shout at all, or Lampeter or Aber for that matter. Or go all in and look at San Francisco or even Modesto California, which is very close to Yosemite. 
 

 Neil Morrison 06 Jul 2024
In reply to Jon Read: at last a mention for Aberdeen. Maybe not enough sport and indoor bouldering for you. Sea cliff cragging (trad and sport) and bouldering all year round - even right through the depths of winter on sunny crags out of the wind. The sport climbing is on crags like The Fin, Orchestra Cave and the easier crags of Boltsheugh and Yellow Crag. Access to Deeside and the Cairngorms and not too far to the sport climbing around Inverness, in Angus and at Dunkeld. The NW easily doable for a weekend. One of the best climates in Scotland with rain shadow and lots of sun (albeit we get the haar, but less so nowadays). Active Uni clubs and several other clubs plus Granitegirls climbing group and a strong local scene. Decent lead wall but very limited indoor bouldering though 1hr 15mins gets you to Block 10 in Dundee. I think Aberdeen Uni does degrees in areas you are keen on. Dip in here and you’ll get a flavour  https://www.flickr.com/photos/8027420@N04/

Came to uni here a long time ago after researching where had the best and driest close to city climbing in Scotland and never left. 
 

Good luck with your choice.

 Billy the fish 06 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

If you want to go climbing, get a job without debt and go climbing.

If you want an education, carefully pick a course, then work out the best uni's offering that course.

You'll find plenty of opportunities for climbing wherever you go and will discover cold beer, hot women and a host of other distractions.

Set you priorities for long term gain - I didn't and spent too many revision hours on Northumberland sandstone.  Some things work out well in the end though.

12
 Rog Wilko 07 Jul 2024
In reply to kathrync:

Bristol handy for N Wales? AA route planner says 4hrs 7minutes to Llanberis.

Post edited at 09:46
1
 tehmarks 07 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

Where do your climbing interests lie? Are you interested in getting into trad, or driven only by bolt-clipping and boulders?

 65 07 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

If you're going to study in Scotland, Aberdeen is far and away the best place for a rock climber.

1
 kathrync 08 Jul 2024
In reply to Rog Wilko:

> Bristol handy for N Wales? AA route planner says 4hrs 7minutes to Llanberis.

I said "within a sensible distance for a weekend away" not "handy". If you leave at around 5 when everyone's classes have finished on Friday, you can get there early enough to get a decent night's sleep, climb two full days, and then reverse on Sunday night.

We would borrow one or two of the University-owned subsidised minibuses for the trip, which would make it affordable. Certainly not something to do every weekend, but a very doable trip once a semster or so. We would generally have a mountaineering day on the Saturday, and then go to Tremadog or the slate on Sunday to make sure we could get away at a sensible time.

 iainJ 08 Jul 2024
In reply to Bo Clay:

If you're planning on trying to do things through the uni climbing clubs, it might be worth making sure that: they're open to  outdoor stuff/ the kind of climbing that you're keen for; have a solid group of active / enthusiastic outdoor climbers; or that there is a solid non-uni based scene where you're heading.

Otherwise, I know of a few uni clubs which are almost solely indoor climbing focused and/or super risk adverse (e.g. people being kicked out for climbing not directly above pads on club trips to font etc.). Some unis are definitely better for this than others.

Leeds has excellent bouldering nearby (10-20 mins to Caley and Almscliff). Malham, Kilnsey, and the rest of the Yorkshire lime is a 50 min or so drive for sport. There's the added bonuses of a really large amount of climbing being accessible by public transport and a plethora of climbing walls.


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