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The Southampton University Hillwalking Club (SUHC) President describes the society as ‘a club dedicated to exploring the Great British countryside on foot’. The club’s walks vary from the the local Hampshire area to the stunning national parks and coastlines the UK has to offer. I caught up with SUHC President, Matt Clark, and Social Sec, Olivia Burbridge, to find out more…
Can you describe the club in 3 words?
Matt: Friendly, outdoor, exploration!
Olivia: Fun, social and relaxed.
Where do the walks take place?
Matt: We have 2 main types of walks. Our “Day Walks” take place each Saturday anywhere in Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight, where there’s a train station: there really are too many places we go to list here! We meet at Southampton Central and get a train to our walk location, have a fantastic time, sit in a pub and then get the train back. We also do “Away Trips” where we hire a minibus or two, and have a weekend away to some of the more wild and mountainous regions of the country, such as Snowdonia and the Peak District.
How long are the walks?
Matt: Our walks are designed to last a day (9:30-5 ish). On the majority of our walks, we cover anywhere between 9 to 15 miles, that’s 14.5 to 24km.
Is prior experience/equipment necessary?
Matt: No experience is necessary at all! We cater for anyone, whether that’s a person wanting to start or an expert wanting a challenge! As for equipment: for our day walks, all we ask is that people wear sturdy shoes that they don’t mind getting muddy and bring a packed lunch. As we stay overnight on our Away Trips, you’ll need a sleeping bag for those and a pair of walking boots for the more difficult terrain. Full kit lists are available on our website.
Olivia: Speaking personally, prior experience is definitely not necessary!
How often are the walks?
Matt: Day Walks happen every Saturday during term time. We also have 2 Away Trips per term to get excited about.
Is there a membership fee?
Matt: If you only want to come on our Day Walks and socials, then membership is FREE. Just turn up, no registration required! If you want to come on an Away Trip with us, we do charge a membership fee of £20 per year.
What sort of socials does the club offer?
Matt: The SUHC has the most varied socials of any club I’ve encountered at uni. We do pub or club nights, karaoke, bowling, pudding parties, curry nights and cheese and wine evenings to name but a few. Our social secs are always producing new ideas and have quite a list…
Olivia: Socials include quiz nights, pub crawls, club nights, bowling, laser tag and our Christmas and Easter formals plus much more…
What would you say was your Hillwalking highlight of the last year?
Matt: Pulling off a day trip to Lulworth Cove and the Dorset Jurassic Coast for 65 people was certainly the high point and a fantastic way to end the year. Well worth all the organising stress!
Olivia: For me it would have to be the Easter formal!
Why did you join the club?
Matt: I simply love being outdoors and going walking is the perfect way of distressing after a week of lectures and coursework.
Olivia: I joined the club to meet new people and to get out of the ‘uni bubble’!
Do you have a favourite walk?
Matt: Ahh, there’s so many good ones that we do! The best however would have to be our end of year day trip to the Dorset Jurassic Coast. Simply stunning scenery and some challenging terrain.
Olivia: I would have to agree with Matt and say the Jurassic coast walk because of the views and beach but the Dean walk (Wiltshire) would be a close second.
What events do you have planned for the first few weeks of term and year ahead?
Matt: We start the term with a Day Walk based in the New Forest on Saturday 8th October, spotting as many New Forest ponies as possible. On the next Saturday, we’ll be off to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight for a stunning coastal walk taking in sights of The Needles and Alum Bay and admiring the 360° view from the top of Tennyson Down. The following weekend will be our first Away Trip of the year to the fantastic Snowdonia National Park and of course we’ll be scaling the mountain that gives the park its name!
Olivia: The social calendar will be very full. Come along for pub trips and laser tag in the first few weeks!
Where can people get more info?
Matt: Our Facebook page is the hub of the club. All details for our walks and social events are posted here in advance. For more general information, you can visit our website. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to drop us a message on the Facebook page. The whole committee are very friendly and don’t bite!
We’ll be at the Bunfight as well, and are hosting a Welcome and Information meeting on Tuesday 4th October, 19:00, 02/1083, where we’ll introduce ourselves and what we’ll be getting up to for the year! Immediately followed by our first social of the year.
Olivia: You can also follow us on Twitter!
To follow the Southampton University Hillwalking Club on social media, you can find them: