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 one of our most active members of past academic year. Hello there, tell us something about yourself. Hello I am Chen, a student in MSc Welding Engineering at SATM School, Cranfield University. Academic year 2016/2017.
What was your role in the walking society? I was the Membership officer, responsible for collecting, processing membership sign up forms and maintaining the mailing list for upcoming events announcement. Occasionally I helped with the event planning and photo taking.
Congratulations! You have won an award from the walking society. Thank you! I received an award during our Christmas pub walk to North Crawley last year as the member who attended most walks between September and December 2016.
What were your 3 favourite walks and why? The first would be Snowdonia National Park, 3 days, 2 nights. It was the first ever big trip organised by the new committee and our first hand experience on the planning, paperwork and preparation that had to be done. With the event taking place 3 months from announcement in early summer for advance accommodation booking, the participation rate was relatively low as some students were uncertain about their schedule, concerned they would be writing up their theses back in their home countries during that period. Fortunately we managed to get both accommodation and participation ready with special arrangement even a month before departure. With none of the participants having visited the national park before nor being professional hikers we all took precaution and hoped for the best. It turned out great! The path, the weather, the stunning view and a birthday celebration for the president, which fell on the same day. From this event, the committee gained major experience for the next.
The second would be Peak District National Park, 2 days 1 night. It was interesting. We lost our direction at the top because it was a vast landscape full of tall vegetation with hardly any visible sign or a path. Getting lost was fun and I enjoyed it, having a chance to explore the unknown and making important judgement along the way. Eventually we were back on track and rewarded with a nice view!
The third would be Willington Dovecote, now managed by National Trust. It was the first walk organised by the walking society for new students that I joined. The walk from Great Barford along the Great River Ouse was led by Alan and Kristina. We began to know each other and ended the walk by shopping at the Go Outdoors shop. It is the first walk where it all started for me – and I caught the walking bug!
What walking boots and other walking gear do you have that you found indispensable during the walks? I didn’t place an importance into the walking gear initially. I had my first serious hiking of a 4000m altitude with industrial boots, partly because that was the pair I had and partly as I was curious to find out what were the advantages of wearing such boots (steel toe cap and sole against rocks, mud proof , water proof, windproof and good traction against oily surface). It works but with low bending flexibility and stamina consuming. From there I learnt about the importance of getting a pair of suitable walking boots. As a fan of waterproof shoes (avoiding all chance of getting wet feet), I had a pair of Timberland boots for walking. It works well, even for daily use to classes. Wind proof jacket and pants are absolutely necessary too.
What did being a member of Cranfield University’s Walks mean to you?
Phew, it was full of surprises and passion! Coming from a hot city full of cars, highways and buildings (I am from Kuala Lumpur), walking in a shopping mall is the norm during weekend. One of my objective during my time spent in the UK is to have some nice outdoor walks and hiking. When I saw Walking Society booth during the club & society event, I joined as a member without much thought. As time passed, I was surprised to know that the society had closed for a year, was revived and ran with great passion by Kristina, the founder, for almost half a year before a full committee was formed. Rather than running away from being a committee, I have accepted Kristina’s offer to be the Membership officer in hope that I can contribute to some extent. Not long after, the president expressed his wish to resign came in as the next jaw dropping surprise, followed by the Snowdon trip at the brink of being scrapped due to low participation and high advance payment. Even so, the team remained resilient. Out of expectation, a quiet member stabilised the society by volunteering himself as the new president, flooding the society with his raging passion. The team sailed through all the hurdles one by one and things eventually back on track.
Finally, the last surprise arrived: the society was given the Best Event award 2016-2017 by Cranfield Student Association, returning to its past glory! I was genuinely stunned during the event as it was the least expected outcome right from revival. The best of all, it was a treat to know a group of very supportive members whom practise the same interest, having a nice chat and encounter during each walk. Not to forget, Kristina’s passion in the society is an eye opener for me. With the memorable year ended, I think the walk continues for all of us, both physically and mentally, exploring new paths and wonders. Hopefully someday we will cross each other’s path again.
Why would you recommend anyone at Cranfield University to join the walking society? Definitely join I would say to those who enjoy walking and photography! It is a wonderful chance to meet people with the same interest from different schools within the university and from different countries across the world.
Thank you, Chen, really enjoyed talking to you. Keep on walking and all the best in your future endeavours!