Celebrating 70 years of Durham University’s Hill Walking Society

Lorna McBride

214 Wainwright peaks in a single day

On the first weekend of July, almost 100 current members and alumni gathered together to celebrate 70 years of Durham University’s Hill Walking Society. To mark the milestone, we decided to take on the challenge of climbing all 214 Wainwrights in the Lake District in a single day. Wainwrights are peaks that were written about by Alfred Wainwright in his illustrated guides to the Lake District. The first of these books was published in 1955, and since then they’ve sold over 2 million copies. There are 214 summits in total, and they range from small hills to the tallest mountain in England, Scafell Pike! 

Raising funds for Mountain Rescue

Climbing all 214 Wainwrights seemed like the perfect challenge to celebrate the Hill Walking Society and its amazing 70 year history, while also raising money for Mountain Rescue charities. Mountain Rescue teams are made up of volunteers who give up their time to help people who have found themselves in difficulty in the mountains. Their voluntary work makes our adventurous hobbies so much safer, so we wanted to be able to give back in some way. Collectively, we have raised £9,224, which will be split equally between the local Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team, and the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association. 

37 groups 214 peaks

On the day, we had 37 different groups (usually of around 2 or 3) out walking. The routes they tackled ranged from short walks that just took in one summit, to long days over 30km, and everything in between, so there was something that suited everyone. As the hours passed by, a seemingly constant stream of messages came in as groups from all corners of the Lake District sent us updates from their summits. By 1pm we were half way through, and the prospect of actually completing our task began to feel very real. 

In spite of rainy showers and cloudy weather throughout much of the day, every single group completed the summits they planned to do. Everyone came back with stories to tell, including Amy and Hannah’s epic 37km day in Northern Fells, where they encountered a bit more bog than expected, Owen and Sathish’s technical scramble along Striding Edge, where they had to help out some strangers with first aid, and Jess and Emily’s walk in Kentmere, where they were distracted by a field of horses!

At 6:56pm, we received the very last summit message of the day. The final Wainwright was Hard Knott, and it was completed by Thomas and Oisin. Announcing that we had completed the challenge was an amazing feeling, and the atmosphere was incredible. 


The next day we celebrated our successes with some rainy walks (in true society style!), a ceilidh, and some woodfired pizza. Alumni and current members swapped stories and photos of their favourite society memories, and we browsed through the society records. It really felt like the whole society had come together to celebrate what makes the society so wonderful. 

I am incredibly grateful to have such a dedicated exec team behind me. Almost a year of hard work went into this event, with so many people pulling together to make it a success. It will undoubtedly be a weekend I remember as a highlight of my time in Durham. I am proud to have been part of something like this, and I am grateful that I have another year left in Durham, so I can continue making memories with this society!

Our fundraising efforts have now closed but if you’d like to donate to our chosen charities, please do so https://www.justgiving.com/twsmrt

The Hill Walking Society

During term time, DUHWS runs a day trip every Saturday, visiting locations across the north of England including the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. We also offer a residential every term to allow us to go further afield, including places like the Scottish Highlands and Snowdonia. We are a very social society, with organised events at least once a fortnight, plus plenty of opportunities to make new friends. We pride ourselves on being both affordable and accessible – you don’t need any prior experience, and the only equipment you need is a pair of walking boots! 

Discover more

If you’d like to know more about DUHWS, check out our website.

I also recommend joining our Facebook group, as we post lots of updates and information here.

We also share photos and information about social events on our Instagram, so feel free to give us a follow. 

Lorna McBride

I’m Lorna and I’m a third year History student from John Snow. I love the outdoors, and I am currently President of the university Hill Walking Club (DUHWS). When I’m not spending time in the mountains, I also like to cook and bake for my friends.

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