With COVID restrictions still in place, I was unable to go interrailing as I had planned for my Gateway funding, so I had to resort to my Plan B which was hiking in the Lake District. The Gateway Challenges Funding allowed me to get the necessary equipment I needed in order to successfully take on this challenge.
Over the summer I hiked in the Lake District, taking on navigational challenges and exploring more of an area I have been but never tackled independently. After initially hiking in the Lake District, I was presented with the opportunity to hike in all four countries of the United Kingdom which I thought would bring me much more of a challenge than my initial plan.
In Wales, I visited a friend from College and we took the opportunity to explore North Wales and experience what it had to offer by hiking. I also visited Scotland, travelling up the Isle of Skye where I spent several days hiking. My favourite was a hike we took was to Camasunary where I hiked amongst the Munroes and made it to the bothy that was at Camasunary bay. In England, I decided to undertake the challenge of hiking Ingleborough; I thoroughly enjoyed this as it was a beautiful sunny day with relatively easy navigation, and the views across Yorkshire when I reached the top made it so worth the challenging hike up!
My final hiking challenge was in Northern Ireland, a true challenge as it was somewhere I had never been before. I was amazed by the beautiful scenery and landscape there, particularly as we hiked along the steep coastal path to the Giant’s Causeway. I hiked Slemish in Ballymena, although a short hike, it was incredibly steep and had incredibly tricky navigation! Unfortunately, by the time I made it up the weather had set in so the cloud blocked any views and made it a wet scramble down (quite literally a scramble as the path disappeared and I had to find any way I could to get down!). I am so grateful to Gateway for allowing me to discover the amazing landscapes and places there are across the UK.
I also managed to take an independent trip to Thessaloniki in Greece, although it wasn’t quite what I had planned to do, interrailing would have been too difficult with all the different COVID restrictions, so I decided I would still challenge myself to get abroad. Despite having solo travelled before the pandemic, this brought new challenges with the pandemic. Nevertheless, I enjoyed overcoming such challenges and being able to experience solo travelling again. I was able to discover a new city, where I didn’t know the language, and find out about its incredible history (which has now come in useful for one of my second year papers!). I also loved the challenge of meeting new people from across the world, learning about their lives and cultures, and also the challenge of living independently in a hostel.
I am so glad Gateway enabled me to have such amazing experiences: it really enriched my summer!
Undergraduate student, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Spanish and Arabic)