Escape to the Peak District

As exams and deadlines start to creep up on us, University life can start to become more stressful than usual.

Work can start to get on top of you and it is easy to feel trapped with nowhere to go. But don’t worry, I have felt like this myself many times before, and so have the majority of students. My one piece of advice for you, would be to escape the city for a few hours and clear your head.

One of the many advantages of studying in Manchester is that we are surrounded by amazing national parks, one of them being the Peak District.

Below I will outline what you can do in a single afternoon in the Peaks.

12:50pm: Catch a train from Manchester Piccadilly to Edale

13:30pm: Arrive in Edale

13:35pm: Grab a bite to eat at Penny Pot Cafe

13:40pm: Walk to Mam Tor


14:00pm: Arrive at the bottom of Mam Tor

Here you can climb to the top to see amazing 360 views of the peaks.

14:30pm: Head down the other side of Mam Tor towards Winnats Pass


14:45pm: Arrive at Winnats Pass

This is a great photo opportunity and at the bottom of the pass on weekdays there is the Speedwell cavern, which is a boat trip through the underground caves, If you decide to do this then I would recommend heading into Castleton, the nearby town and grabbing a coffee and local pastries before heading home, you could catch a train home at around 17:00pm. However if you don’t do this then…

15:15pm: Walk to Jacobs Ladder


This is a long walk, but you pass through Baber Booth and over some stunning rivers.

16:45pm: Arrive at Jacobs Ladder

From here I would recommend you take the long route though Kinder Scout National Nature Reserve back to Edale.


19:30pm: Train Home, Edale to Manchester

The itinerary above is just one of the many trips you can do into the Peak District. With hiking, Cycling, Rock Climbing, Photography, Museums, Art Galleries, Historic Houses and Castles, wildlife and so much more it really is one of the best places to go to feel a sense of freedom from university life.

The world is a lot bigger than oxford road, a lot bigger than Manchester and so when university gets too much, or even when you have some free time just escape.

For more information please go to ‘Experience Peak District and Derbyshire,’ the official Peak District website where they have all the information you need.




















From here I would recommend you take the long route though Kinder Scout National Nature Reserve back to Edale.


Volunteering in Rwanda

By James Waterfield

Volunteering is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in other cultures, meet people, make new friends and most importantly- change lives. Last summer I spent a month in Rwanda teaching with the Debate Mate charity and I couldn’t recommend it more! Below you’ll find out what my typical week of volunteering looked like.

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday

The first three days of the week were dedicated to teaching kids debating skills to prepare them for an upcoming competition.  Each volunteer was in charge of a specific school,
James Rwanda1.jpgwhich gave us an amazing opportunity to build relationships with the
students. Teaching brought many new challenges, for instance, in each class there was a range of both age and ability, and in most schools, the limited English left a sea of smiling and nodding heads. This was however a fantastic opportunity to learn some Kinyarwandan phrases, such as ‘Do you understand?’ and ‘Are you listening to me?’ As the days went by, I seemed to adjust well and I was very proud of the progress that my students made.

We taught every day from 7:30 am until 13:00 pm. Having the second half of the day off gave us an opportunity to explore Rwanda. We used this time to visit the local farming villages, art galleries, women centres and memorials. One of the most memorable visits was to the Niyo Art gallery, where we learned a traditional Rwandan dance and drumming from local kids. In return, we taught them some of our Debate Mate games which received a very positive reaction.


Competition day! This was the day we put on our tailored suits that we bought earlier in James Rwanda2.jpgthe week. We were excited to give the students the day that they deserved. The day was full
of emotions; while there was an overall sense of competitiveness, the kids were laughing
and cheering on their teammates. The schools debated on issues such as education, transport, exams and voting rights. It was amazing to see how passionate the students were, even though for some, English was their  second or third language. It was incredible to observe the students I’ve worked with in the past weeks and see their excitement and determination to learn.

Friday & The Weekend

The weekend was a time for exploring Rwanda. Activities included: a safari in Akagera National Park and a trip to Lake Gisenyi.  For locals, Saturday was when everyone would take a pause on their daily life and engage in Umuganda – community service. This involved cleaning the streets, forests, and fields. With the friends we made at the Niyo Art Gallery, we came together  to clean out the drainage systems. A tiring few hours of work was finished off by an invitation to the village meeting. This was a very special moment for all of us as this meant we were accepted into the local community and recognized for our help.

As I now look back on my time in Rwanda, I think back to my students,  the people we met  and the multitude of friendships that I formed. Volunteering in Rwanda truly influenced my worldview and made me appreciate the work similar charities do for local communities. This is an incredible opportunity to help others while also discovering the world for myself. I will always be proud of the work my colleagues and I accomplished in Rwanda and I encourage others to do the same.

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