Since Cranfield University’s Walks formed in April 2011 many students participated in its activities, which enabled them to discover the UK’s extensive network of footpaths and enjoy and appreciate beauty of the UK’s countryside. If you are a new student coming to Cranfield University and thinking of joining, hear from our existing and past members about their experiences of being part of the society:
Today I am talking to Belén. Hello Belén! Tell us something about yourself.
I did an MSc by Research in New Product Development. I was a student at the former School of Applied Sciences.
What was your role in the walking society? I was the voice of the society!-), I was its Social Media Officer. I was in charge of keeping people updated of the society’s events through our website and social media networks. This involved chasing people to give me an accurate description of any upcoming event so I could then advertise it, updating the society’s calendar, from time to time posting pictures… I also helped to organise events and I led a couple of local walks. I started as a Photo Editor for the society, encouraging other students to take lots of pictures during our walks whilst taking quite a few myself, updating the society’s photo gallery and organising our photo competitions.
Congratulations! You have won an award at the latest Cranfield Students’ Association awards 2013/2014! I was honoured with the “Muddy Boots” award for my work for the society as a volunteer committee member.
What were your 3 favourite Cranfield University’s Walks events and why? It is difficult to choose, above all among the weekend hikes, but I think that the trip to the Lake District was very remarkable: The first day we did a bike ride descending Whinlatter Forest, England’s only true mountain forest. The next day we conquered the snowed Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England, and one of the peaks of the Three Peak Challenge. And the last day of the trip we walked, climbed, and crawled along crags towards Helvellyn, which gave us amazing views.
I quite liked the guided walk in the historical Stowe gardens in Buckinghamshire, with its unique Palladian Bridge, as well.
But even closer to Cranfield University there is Aspley Woods near the town of Woburn Sands: one of the few proper areas of woodland/forest around Cranfield. In autumn the display of colours of the beech trees is pretty spectacular.
What walking boots and other walking gear do you have that you found indispensable during the walks? I wore my old walking boots when we climbed Snowdon in Wales. We walked for about eight hours in horrible weather (wind, rain, hail…) and from minute nine my feet were totally soaked. At the end of the walk I couldn’t even feel my feet, they were just like frozen rocks hitting the ground with every step. Now I have got a pair of brand new Vibran boots. I don’t think it is a known brand, but they feel as comfortable as trainers and for the moment they are waterproof. I firmly believe that good socks are almost as important as good boots, at least during the winter walks. Since the Wales experience I don’t spend less than £10 on a pair of good walking socks.
A good waterproof coat is also essential in England. Apart from that, during last year I acquired other useful gear such as gloves, a hat, a buff, gaiters…
Last year I learned the hard way that inappropriate gear can turn the best walk into a nightmare and a tough hike into hell. Invest in a good gear from start – that is my advice!
What did being a member of Cranfield University’s Walks mean to you? Getting involved in the walking society was with no doubt one of the best things I could have done whilst being a student at Cranfield University. It was a great way to get some outdoor exercise, to get out of the campus, to explore its surroundings and the UK at large. But even more importantly, thanks to the walking society I met a lot of awesome people. A big chunk of my friends from Cranfield belongs to Cranfield University’s Walks.
Why would you recommend anyone at Cranfield University to join the walking society? Because if you like what I like, the walking society has everything to offer! It enables you to be outdoors, exercise, and socialise. What is more, if you get involved in the society as a committee member, this will help you to develop quite a few useful skills such as planning, budgeting, leadership, team working, etc. Not joking. I very successfully used my experience of being a committee member in the competency questions of job applications and interviews. This led me to be offered a place on a graduate scheme with Rolls-Royce.
Thank you, Belén, really enjoyed talking to you. Keep on walking and all the best in your future endeavors!