Another Russell Group member, Durham is one of the UK’s very top universities, always figuring in the league tables’ top 10 and often in their top 5. It’s a “collegiate university”, which is to say it’s composed of various semi-autonomous colleges — 16 in Durham’s case — in the manner of Cambridge or Oxford. Unlike those at Cambridge and Oxford, however, the Durham colleges have no academic function, but are merely the organising principle of domestic and social life, sport, and pastoral care. Wikipedia informs us that there is “great deal of intercollegiate rivalry”, and no doubt this results in large quantities of “top banter”. The 16 colleges are spread across two campuses, Durham City and Queen’s, which between them comprise a 223-hectare estate, containing one ancient monument, 5 grade-one listed buildings, 68 grade-two listed buildings, and part of a UNESCO world heritage site.
The North East, just south of Newcastle. The smaller Queen’s Campus, where Medicine, Pharmacy, Accounting, Business and Finance, Applied Psychology and Primary Education are studied, is located just outside the city in the town of Thornaby-on-Tees.
Distance to surf:
It’s 30 minutes to the nearest break. Beware, the east coast is fickle and unpredictable, but it can be very good. “I’ve had numerous super early dawneys only to rock up at the beach and find that it’s flat,” says SE’s North East correspondent. “Easy to spend a whole day driving 100s of miles looking for the ‘right spot’ and find nothing. But if you’re committed and keen to search then when you’re rewarded it makes it all worth while! Potential for really quality uncrowded waves and it helps having the prevailing wind offshore. Mixture of heavy reefs and beach breaks with the odd point break.”
Another mate of mine who went to Durham befriended a few of the locals, who took him with them to a couple of secret spots… but not without blindfolding him first.
Scotland’s easily doable for a weekend trip too.
Cost of living:
For rent you’re looking at about £100 a week, sharing a place with friends. Prices for halls range from £4,773 a year (self-catered) to £7,104 (ensuite, catered).
Where to go out:
“Klute is a dump but pretty hilarious and cheap!”
It’s “sick”, apparently.
What’s cool about it:
The water. It’s probably the coldest anywhere in the UK during winter, as it doesn’t get enjoy the Gulf Stream wrap-around effect like Scotland’s east coast does. Expect water temperatures of 5 degrees in winter.
On the one hand it’s the northeast, so if you’re an Erasmus student, good luck understanding anything at all. On the other, it’s not quite yet Geordieland, so it could be worse.
TV presenter Gaby Logan; radio host Jeremy Vine; Nasser Hussain and Andrew Strauss, two former England cricket captains; Will Carling, former England rugby captain; triple jump world record holder Jonathan Edwards.
Newcastle University — slightly cheaper, good (though not quite as good) academically, a similar distance from the coast (though half an hour further north), based in a bigger city.