You’ll spend most of your life on campus in your first year at Uni, and you’ll get pretty familiar with it in no time. However, there are plenty of great spots you’d have to go hunting for in order to find. This article, a campus treasure map if you will, holds the locations to a ton of hidden gems found around the University that are perfect for escaping to when flat life starts to wear you down.
The Quiet Place
Located next to the wacky hedges behind Heslington Hall and a short work from Derwent College, The Quiet Place is a beautiful brick building and walled garden courtyard available to any student in the midst of a breakdown who needs a, erm, quiet place. You’ll have to plan your bereft search for solitude in advance though, as you’ll need to obtain the key from Derwent porters to get in. Definitely one of the University’s most charming quirks, The Quiet Place genuinely is a perfect spot to spend time reflecting on all that changing you’re doing.
Okay, it’s neither hidden nor on campus, but it still took me until second term to realise that there’s a cashpoint, a post office and two pubs within ten minutes of my bed. The Deramore Arms and Charles XII both have beer gardens and serve food pitched at very different ends of the market; hit up the Charles for a cheap burger or the Deramore for a pint and a wistful look at the menu. The cashpoint is also a saving grace when you need to chip in for that taxi to town – though ‘I’ll buy you a jagerbomb if you cover me’ serves equally well.
The highest point in the local area, Siwards Howe is The Quiet Place’s wilderness twin or, more aptly, The Quiet Place for Northerners. A leafy, grassy hillock, the Howe overlooks the Hull York Medical School and Alcuin College, and is accessible via the underpass and up Siwards Way. Position yourself right and you can leave behind the chaos of campus on the other side of the grove of trees, and enjoy views of rural Yorkshire over to the East. In the summer there’s nowhere better to watch the sun come up on the way back from a night out, though this is a pleasure largely reserved for Alcuinites (it’s only right that living at the edges of the Earth has some perks).
Possibly the most hidden of hidden gems, you’ll walk past the huge Buddha statue between Vanburgh and Derwent and forget where you saw it, only to stumble across it weeks later and wonder whether it moves. At least, you would have, had you not read this. The Buddha overlooks a patch of trees and shrubbery full of squirrels, and is a sort of shrine to many; the grumpy-looking chap is often littered with flowers, notes and other tokens. The bronze statue was donated in 1983 by Elizabeth Cooper from the art collection owned by her father John Bowes Morrell (of University Library fame), a founding member of the University. There’s some trivia to wow your flatmates with in Freshers’ Week.
Alcuin’s Vegetable Patch
As if the ensuite elite didn’t have it all already, Alcuin is home to a help-yourself vegetable garden, fit to bursting in Spring with all the free Vitamin B you can dig up. Located in between Alcuin’s old and new quads and easily located by following laminated directions, there’s a chance it might just be for residents of the college only, so don’t get us in trouble by taking all the cabbage. Proceed in the spirit of collectivism – you’re a student now don’t you know.
Wentworth’s Country Trail
Again, not really a secret, but it’s another of those things about campus you’ll wish you’d discovered sooner. Leading right from the side of Wentworth to the Millenium Bridge just south of town and entirely bike friendly, the country path is another great place to escape to as well as a handy shortcut. It’s also terrifically scenic, taking in some weedy scrubland and a frankly bone-chilling, barb wire-lined military base. Access it via the path that runs behind Wentworth through to James and the Sports Fields.
The Biologists will do anything to keep this one to themselves while the rest of us battle for a table in Courtyard and queue like cattle in the Library Cafe. Cookies is a little café open from 9:15 am to 4pm serving hot and cold snacks & drinks and, pivotally, excellent cookies to a tight-lipped cohort of Biology students – fair play really, as this hidden gem is to be found in their own department building (itself an impossible department to find, hidden as it is in the shadow of the Music department and Wentworth). The time has come to lift the lid and share the secret with the next generation: this is where all the cool kids are getting their cookies.
Located just down from the country path behind Wentworth and behind the Sports Centre’s sports hall, the Observatory is, as you might imagine, home to a really, really big telescope. It’s high tech stuff – solar powered, capable of photographing Saturn and Jupiter, and entirely off limits to the simple student mind. Another good spot to go and reflect, you may want to head over to the Observatory to comprehend the wider mysteries of the universe after a session of introverted wallowing in The Quiet Place. But you probably won’t.