My Favourite Places
by Tom Scott
Hi, I’m Tom and I’m one of Lancaster University’s digital content ambassadors. I’m part way into my second year at the University studying Natural Sciences with a focus on ecology and conservation.
Lancaster has become like a second home to me in the relatively short amount of time that I’ve been here, and there are loads of places around the city and campus that have played a big role in that. I’m writing about a few of my favourites in this article.
County Main / County Bar
My college has been a massive part of my time at Lancaster, so obviously the two major County College buildings, the bar and County Main, had to make it onto the list. County Main is where my porters were, I felt pretty bad for them around black Friday when they were completely swamped with parcels as the entire college tried to grab a deal. One of my favourite memories from the first year happened a few floors above their office, it was when my friends and I somehow found our way onto the roof of County Main to watch the University’s annual fireworks display, to our surprise when we tried to do it again this year we got escorted down by security. Turns out we weren’t actually supposed to be up there, oops.
In summer term the bar played host, as it does every year, to the County Extrav. The Extravs are basically massive themed end of year parties held by each college, our theme was wild west so my flat all dressed up as cowboys. I can’t say that I remember 100% of the Extrav, but I have a bad memory anyway so I’ll put it down to that, it was a really fun way to end my first year with the college.
Lancaster Environment Centre
The Lancaster Environment Centre (or LEC) is where a big chunk of my degree outside of lectures takes place. It’s a pretty massive building which was easy for me to get lost in when I first got to Lancaster, thankfully I know my way around a bit better now.
Because I’m studying a science degree I’ve had countless lab sessions for my LEC modules, including one mildly traumatic practical which involved dissecting a fish and analysing its guts. Most of them haven’t been quite that wild though. The lab work as a whole has been a big step up from the kind of things I was doing in high school and sixth form, and the write-ups even more so, but I think most new students adapt to it quite quickly.
My favourite part of LEC is definitely the new atrium which opened in time for my second year, it’s a big open plan hang out/study space in the middle of the department filled with plants. As of right now not many non-LEC students seem to know how to find it so there’s always space for me to revise, stress about coursework and eat lunch with my pals… three essential Uni activities!
I’m such a fan of my department that I’ve ended up giving tours to prospective students, so if you’re visiting for an applicant visit day you might spot me! (I’ll try not to get your group lost).
Right next to my second-year flat is Dalton Square, so I’m always around that area of the city. It’s just off the main Lancaster high street and it’s where one of my favourite plant shops is. Unfortunately, I have to continually buy new plants due to my lack of ability when it comes to keeping them alive, which I’m sure the store owner loves. Dalton Rooms, the nightclub, is also in the area, and it’s a regularly visited spot in my social circle when we’re not chasing deadlines.
This Christmas, the square got transformed into a massive ice rink for the first time. I, of course, headed down with all my pals and attempted to look mildly graceful for an hour, I would say we were partially successful but there were a few pro skaters that put us to shame.
Lancaster Pride 2018 was also mainly based in the square, with fairground rides and a stage all set up, it was one of Lancaster’s first Prides! It seemed like the whole city had turned up for the parade which was great to see, and the LGBTQ+ society was positioned really close to the front of the march.
There’s one location in Lancaster, other than the sugar house, that every student knows about: Williamson Park. It’s right next to the city and it’s where the Ashton Memorial is, i.e. the fancy building on top of the hill that you can see from anywhere in the city.
In my first year, I saw that the council had organised a stargazing night in the park, so I headed down with my flat. Even though it was a kind of cloudy night and we couldn’t see all that much we got to meet loads of stargazing enthusiasts and use their telescopes to view the moon.
Of course, the other thing that most people use the park for is picnics and days out in the summer months, I’ve been there one too many times in the middle of exam season myself! The Highest Point festival also happens in the park around term 3, I didn’t get a chance to check it out last year but I’ll definitely be giving it a look this time.
Lancaster train station
It seems like an odd pick as one of my most memorable places in Lancaster, but I’ve realised that the train station is a key part of loads of my favourite memories. Like all train stations it, obviously, acts as a way to access the city’s surrounding areas.
In summer term of year one, a few of my flat got the train up to Windermere together to go swimming in the lake and have a BBQ, risking the attack of a few angry swans. It was nice to have a change of scenery and was super simple to organise. In a similar vein, cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham are super accessible for a day trip, Annabelle (another digital content ambassador) has made some videos you can check out from her visits.
Because I’m part of the University’s Ultimate Frisbee team, I also travel around the country to play in tournaments year-round, and we usually get there by train! Most recently we headed up to York, and I can happily say we smashed their team 9-4. The tournaments can be pretty exhausting as it’s a full weekend of non-stop sports, but it’s so much fun to play with the team and celebrate our (occasional) wins together. I really recommend trying out for a team sport at Lancaster, even if it is a lesser known one like Frisbee.