interview

Thinking of joining us? Meet our member Ali

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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:
                      Ali in action.

Today I am talking to one of our most inspiring membersHello there, tell us something about yourself. Hi, my name is Ali and I’m from Saudi Arabia. I studied my Master of Science in Advanced Mechanical Engineering at Cranfield University, academic year 2016/2017.

What was your role in the walking society? I was the Photo Editor. As a committee member, my role included helping the committee in planning the walks but it was mainly to document every walk we had and share it through our social media pages.

Congratulations! You have won an award from the walking society. Thank you! I received the Chief Photographer award during our last year’s Christmas pub walk to North Crawley .

What were your 3 favourite walks and why? 

Snowdonia National Park: A hiking trip for three days with a group of energetic and lovely members of the walking society.  That experience showed how a team can work in a tough environment like climbing Snowdon Mountain.

Olney Christmas Market Walk: A walk that included passing by and seeing several attractive locations along the  River Great Ouse and Olney River Meadows  that are nature, the old market town and the Christmas market with a flavour of Victorian England.

Stevington Windmill Walk: A special walk to view an impressive postmill (a type of windmill that could be turned to face into the wind) built in the 18th century and the only complete windmill left in the county of Bedfordshire.  A historic windmill which is sort of  hidden, a stunning place to visit in Bedford.

What did being a member of Cranfield University’s Walks mean to you?

Being a member of this society gave me the opportunity to enjoy two things. Firstly, wondering around the beautiful countryside, villages and towns and knowing about their fascinating history. Secondly, I was honoured to work with and learn from the committee and our friends, Kristina and Alan, who all were driven by passion toward making this society lively and successful.

Why would you recommend anyone at Cranfield University to join the walking society? I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that the Walking Society does complete the studying experience at Cranfield University, especially for international students like me so I strongly recommend it.

Thank you, Ali ! It was a pleasure talking to you. Keep on walking and all the best in your future endeavours!

Ali and fellow members of the walking society at Chicheley Hall.


Read further interviews with our members on our testimonials’ page.
Would you like to be part of the walking society?  Learn on how to join the Cranfield University’s Walks here

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Thinking of joining us? Meet our member Chen

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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.

Say hi to Chen, one of the walking society’s dedicated committee members. 

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!

Read further interviews with our members on our testimonials’ page.
Would you like to be part of the walking society?  Learn on how to join the Cranfield University’s Walks here

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Thinking of joining us? Meet our member Ann

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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:
ann poku pic
Ann attending the Peak District hiking weekend. It was cold!

Today I am talking to Ann. Hello Ann! Tell us something about yourself. I was registered as a student for MSc in Air Transport Management for the 2012/2013 academic year.

What was your role in the walking society? I was the membership officer during my time, responsible for collecting and processing filled-in membership forms and for issuing membership cards to new members.

What were your 3 favourite Cranfield University’s Walks events and why? The trip to Peak District stands out among all the walks I participated in. it literally was such a spectacular trip. One day we had hiked through several feet of snow, then it rained during the night and by morning, the snow was gone and the mountains all green. I can still remember it like yesterday.

The second was a walk to North Crawley for the Guy Fawkes fireworks night. I remember it showered a bit on our way there but the display that night made it all worth it. It was a beautiful night.

The third would be my very first walk to Angela’s Farm on the outskirts of North Crawley. I might never have made that walk, was doubting if it would be worth my while. But how wrong was I? Opened me up to a whole new world around Cranfield. I sure did repeat that walk many a times by myself or with a friend whenever I needed a break from campus. It became my getaway walk.

What walking boots and other walking gear  did you have that you found indispensable during the walks? Merrel , I think? Honestly I can’t remember the brand. It was up to the task though. What I considered must-haves was my pair of Craghopper waterproof trousers and my Regatta 3-in-1 jacket – they were good enough for all my walks.

What did being a member of Cranfield University’s Walks mean to you? The walking society at Cranfield University is one of the warmest fraternities I got involved with on campus. I experienced such great camaraderie on the very first walk that I just had to be involved. I met some great people, and it gave me an escape from all the academic stress. I also got to enjoy the great outdoors, made me feel so much at peace with my environment. Honestly, I looked forward to walk weekends.

Why would you recommend anyone at Cranfield University to join the walking society?  Why not the walking society? It is the best club to meet new people (there’s always someone new on every walk), explore your environment, walk away from the academic stress (quite literally), enjoy the great outdoors whilst burning calories. How healthy is that?

Seriously though, I got to see some of the most beautiful places in England through this student society. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for more than a ‘schooling’ experience at Cranfield University. You can’t get it wrong with Cranfield University Walks!

Thank you, Ann, so lovely talking to you. All the best in your future endeavours and keep on walking!

Visit our Membership page on how to join Cranfield University’s Walks.

 

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Thinking of joining us? Meet our member Xiaojian

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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:
Xiaojian enjoying a hike at Brecon Beacons, Wales
Xiaojian enjoying a hike in Brecon Beacons

Today I am talking to Xiaojian. Hello Xiaojian! Tell us something about yourself. I was a PhD student in School of Engineering (now School of Energy, Environment and Agrifood), studying wind energy technology.

What was your role in the walking society? I was a photo editor of the walking society, responsible for taking, collecting and editing, and distributing photos for our members. I was called in for any html coding emergencies and to resolve the Picasa versus Google + issues.  But mostly, my role was quite flexible and I received a lot support from other members.

What were your 3 favourite Cranfield University’s Walks events and why? It’s a very difficult question for me, I had good feelings for nearly every walk I have participated in. My personal favourites are the walk to Stewarby Lake and St Mary’s Church, where we had the chance to learn about local history, the walk from Great Barford to Bedford walk, where we could see some amazing heritage like the Willington Dovecote and  Stables, and the 3-day walk in Wales, where we managed to visit the seaside resort Tenby (also the Caldey Island) and climb a series of mountains in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

What walking boots and other walking gear  did you have that you found indispensable during the walks? I have a pair of Karrimor boots. They work well for me  and were very cheap. But I also know a lot of members of the walking society have North Face boots, which may be better in quality but need a bit more financial investment. I think a waterproof jacket/coat is necessary, umbrella won’t work in this windy country!

What did being a member of Cranfield University’s Walks mean to you? Becoming a member of the walking society gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of friends in and out of my own school and explore Great Britain’s history, culture and geographical wonders. It is a very healthy way of life, too.

Why would you recommend anyone at Cranfield University to join the walking society?  Walking society is a very unique society, which not only helps you win friendship, keep fit, see beautiful scenery, but also enriches your knowledge in nature, history and many other area. It would definitely make your life at Cranfield University different and much more delightful and enjoyable.

Thank you, Xiaojian nice talking to you. All the best in your future endeavours and keep on walking!

Visit our Membership page on how to join Cranfield University’s Walks.

Are you interested in being a committee member extraordinaire for the academic year 2016-2017? Get in touch.

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Thinking of joining us? Meet our member Pedro

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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:
Pedro with friends at Snowdonia National Park
Pedro with student walkers at

Snowdonia National Park

Today I am talking to  Pedro. Hello Pedro! Tell us something about yourself. I’m in the last stage of my PhD in computing science at Cranfield University. More specifically, my PhD is in image processing applied to robotics. Cool, uh?

Yes, very cool indeed! What were your 3 favourite Cranfield University’s Walks events and why? Stowe was good fun. It is a big park with a manor in the middle converted into a boarding school. It’s crowded by neat gardens and monuments, with one or two lakes around. We had an experienced guide (he was over 80, and that’s a low estimate) who explained the history of the site to us. Apparently the place is full of spots where love has been unrequited, as well as others where it has been… requited.

Another nice walk was in Bedford, a town located about 17km northeast from Cranfield University. The walk took place in December. After a gentle walk along the riverside we arrived at the centre of Bedford, and there a most proper guide for the period of the year (with a big white beard) told us interesting facts about the history of Bedford, a town which seems to be vast and bustling! Do you know that there is a house in Bedford where everything is ready in case the Messiah comes over?

All the weekend walks I’ve done have been great, but I if I had to pick one, it would be Yorkshire, I guess. The first day we climbed up three peaks which surround a valley, and for once the weather was good! I remember I ended up singing Spanish songs along with Belén, while the sheep stared at us in bewilderment and the rest of the group pretended didn’t know us…

What walking boots and other walking gear  did you have that you found indispensable during the walks? My boots are ASOLO (I bought them with you, Kristina!) They were on offer but I made sure that they don’t let the water in and that the ankle is protected. Still as shining as the first day I bought them!

I’m not the best example for walking gear. Keeping you warm and with spare clothes in case you get wet is paramount, so I always take lots of layers and spare garments.

You should never trust the weather (definitely not in Britain) and so take with you on a walk water-proof clothes (trousers and top). A warm cap is really important, a lot of heat comes out of your head! Also, a good pair of gloves can help a lot when is 5ºC, windy and spitting. Ah! And for when the elements get extreme, I always take with me a buff to protect my face.

What did being a member of Cranfield University’s Walks mean to you? What did it mean? Mmm… dunno, I guess that it meant that I got to know friendly and open-minded people, most of them with similar interests as me. The walking society has introduced me to many students from other schools.

It has also been a gate to Britain. Thanks to the walking society I got to know so many places, traditions and folklore of the Anglo-Saxon world that otherwise I, as Spaniard, would have never known of.

Also, it made me realise that having a car really increases your status, here at Cranfield (for those who are not (yet) familiar, Cranfield campus is not in a town but in the middle of countryside, with limited facilities and public transport links).

Why would you recommend anyone at Cranfield University to join the walking society? I think there are two or three big reasons for joining the walking society. You see, if you like going to a gig or for drinks in some fancy venue every so often, Cranfield is not the best place for it. What Cranfield is optimised for is… walks! We couldn’t be in a better environment for enjoying the English countryside. Also geographically, Cranfield is less than one hour away by car from so many historic and picturesque English places.

Another big reason is socialising. During a walk you can’t help but socialising with people, where interesting conversations can be stirred and people can connect. You know, more than one couple has been formed under the umbrella of  walking society… just saying.

As I mentioned before, I think that the walks, events and outdoor activities that walking society promotes create a bias towards outgoing and straightforward people. So if you socialise with great people, you end up… with great friends! 🙂

Thank you, Pedro, great talking to you. All the best, good luck finishing your PhD and keep on walking!    

Visit our Membership page on how to join Cranfield University’s Walks.

 

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Thinking of joining us? Meet our member Stephan

Posted on Updated on

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:
Stephan and Sissi
Stephan and Sissi enjoying a walk

Today I am talking to  Stephan. Hello Stephan! Tell us something about yourself. I studied for a PhD in Welding at the former School of Applied Sciences.

What were your 3 favourite Cranfield University’s Walks events and why? Peak District -> A good experience to get sweaty in the snow, Hadrian’s Wall -> A very nice view and great community working together, Grand Union Canal -> met my current girlfriend (and future wife) on this walk.

What walking boots and other walking gear  did you have that you found indispensable during the walks? My boots are from Timberland; additionally I wear a pair of winter socks (against rubbing). Depending on the walk’s length, terrain, and weather, I would also bring along Pressure Point Foam Padding (foot), blister plaster, a torch, a whistle, waterproof trousers and jacket, minimum three layers (T-shirt, pullover, jacket), anti-mosquito spray, sunscreen, some emergency plaster and disinfection pads. When going for a walk I always bring along a bottle of water, fruit and something savoury to eat. And a lot of endurance and readiness to have fun together.

What did being a member of Cranfield University’s Walks mean to you? To me, it still means having a lot of fun with people I’ve never seen before. Getting together in a group and trying to achieve a common goal. I (we) will soon be back for one of the future walks organised by the society.

Why would you recommend anyone at Cranfield University to join the walking society?  You join a society which is run by students. So it relies on you having to organise one thing or two, but this is the joy of it. The walking society makes you socialize with unknown faces.

Thank you, Stephan, nice talking to you. All the best in your future endeavours and keep in touch!      

Visit our Membership page on how to join Cranfield University’s Walks.

 

post by @CUwalker

Thinking of joining us? Meet our member Sarah

Posted on Updated on

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:
Sarah, our president extraordinaire.
Sarah, our committee member extraordinaire.

Today I am talking to Sarah. Hello Sarah. Tell us something about yourself. I am just entering my final year (eek!) of a 3 year PhD in Engineering Photonics (in what!? you say, pretty much light based engineering).

What was your role in the walking society? I was president last year, overseeing the events and making sure the society was running smoothly. This meant that I was involved in every aspect of the society from website and Facebook posts, to budgeting for trips and grant applications. I’m a big fan of hiking so organised a number of hiking weekends to the national parks, as far away as Scotland! However I have also really enjoyed attending and organising local walks around the area, seeing beautiful areas such as Olney and Woburn deer park.

This year I will be returning to my previous position of treasurer that I held in my first year so I will be in charge of the purse strings again!

Congratulations! You have won an award at the latest Cranfield Students’ Association awards 2013/2014! I was really honoured to receive the Individual Contribution award. I am heavily involved with both the walking society and circuit training, two of the largest student societies on campus, and so I got to interact with a large number of students at Cranfield University.

What were your 3 favourite Cranfield University’s Walks events and why? As I said I am a big fan of hiking and I think my favourite walk was, as with Belén, our trip to Lake District. On the second day we crossed the sheer ridge of Striding Edge on our way to Hellvelyn. The weather was brilliant so we had a fun scramble along this edge and were rewarded with spectacular views on the top of Hellvelyn in all directions (and a bottle of wine that a certain Italian had brought with him to the summit!).

Local walks, I really enjoyed the tour of the 15th century St. Marys church with Reverend Gill followed by some yummy cakes at the picturesque Marston Vale forest centre where we had lovely views of Stewartby Lake and its sail boats.

The final walk I really enjoyed was the joint walking society and chess society walking where we walked to the Carrington Arms and held a chess tournament. Our walking society members got lots of tips about chess and the chess members got to explore one of Cranfield’s lesser known public bridleways. It was a really fun day with pints, burgers and friendly competition!      

What walking boots and other walking gear do you have that you found indispensable during the walks? The boots I have are Asolo, quite light but with good ankle support. Other items that I have found useful include full set of waterproof gear (waterproof NOT showerproof), a good backpack, that has an air back (contains a metal frame to allow a gap between back and bag) and two sets of straps so weight is distributed evenly. For weekend hikes, hiking poles are very useful to reduce impact on knees. Then finally, layering, lots of lighter layers provide good insulation but easy temperature regulation.

What did being a member of Cranfield University’s Walks mean to you?  I love the diversity of where we go, from seeing the hidden gems around the area to scaling the highest peaks in the national parks. But most importantly it’s the social aspect of the activities, you can attend one or many events and you feel welcome every time. You have time to chat with so many different people and indeed, the majority of my best friends at Cranfield University I have met through the walking society.

 Why would you recommend anyone at Cranfield University to join the walking society? As I said before, for the friendliness of it, you have an instant group of friends who are up for exploring! Getting involved on the committee is a great way to gain organisational skills, as well as meeting the locals…. and we do have a free lunch or two here and there!!

Thank you, Sarah, fab talking to you. Keep on walking and all the best in completing your PhD!

Would you like to get involved in running the walking society in the academic year 2016-2017?  Get in touch! Visit our Membership page on how to join Cranfield University’s Walks.

post by @CUwalker