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Top universities for students who love the great outdoors

Published 9 May 2014 by

As part of our Inspirational Student 2014 campaign, we want to celebrate campus life in all its various forms. In this blog, we’re focusing on the great outdoors, from white water rafting in the city to hide and seek in the country. So if you’re thinking of heading off to university and want to explore the best of the British outdoors while you study, we’ve found some great institutions for you to consider.

Nottingham Trent University

You might not think that this East Midlands city has much in the way of outdoor credentials, but think again. Nottingham Trent has an outstanding reputation for land-based studies and with its rural campus in Brackenhurst, near the beautiful market town of Southwell, it offers the perfect starting point for hikes and walks around rural Nottinghamshire. Add to this the university’s proximity to Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre, famously used in the London Olympics and offering white water rafting, wind surfing, dinghy sailing, rowing, kayaking, powerboat handling and canoeing – and you’ve got pretty much most outdoor activities sewn up.

University of Cumbria

You’d rightly expect a rewarding experience from a university with a campus in the Lake District, especially one that offers degrees in Outdoor Studies. The University of Cumbria is the largest provider of outdoor-related degrees in the UK and has a specialism in forestry and conservation. If you want an outdoor career as well as an outdoor university experience, Cumbria could be the place for you.

University of Exeter

Despite Exeter being the county town of Devon, the university’s big outdoor appeal lies in nearby Cornwall. Exeter’s Cornwall campus is based near Penryn, where students have their pick of seven beaches, numerous rivers, a marina for sailing and of course, plenty of surfing. But we think the real jewel in Exeter’s outdoorsy crown is the Hide and Seek Society, which provides free Where’s Wally hats for all members .

Swansea University

For sheer scenic splendour, Swansea University is hard to beat. The campus is set in mature parkland and botanical gardens, so if a gentle afternoon stroll is your kind of thing, then this campus should appeal. The nearby Gower Peninsula perfectly characterises the rugged and stunning South Wales coastline. Perhaps Swansea’s greatest claim to outdoor fame is that it counts Dave Cornthwaite – the world record-breaking adventurer who skated 5823km between Perth and Brisbane – as an alumnus.

University of the Highlands and Islands

Scotland’s newest university, with its campus on Shetland, offers anyone with a taste for the outdoors a truly historic experience. Exploring the Neolithic remains at the Ness of Brogdar makes for a memorable day out and for anyone looking to test their stamina, a climb to the top of the Brough of Deerness rewards the determined with a view across the island. Courses on offer include Adventure Tourism Management, Energy Engineering and Marine Science, all with a distinct outdoor flavour.