Heslington Hall

Hidden Gems of Campus

Starting any uni is a daunting prospect but York being a campus university definitely eases the transition. Being familiar with aspects of it that many students aren’t aware of until their 2nd or 3rd year will put you that extra step ahead. Plus, these hidden gems will make a great talking point with your flatmates in Freshers’ Week.


York has so many paths and trails which make it a great place for wandering – and shortcuts!

1. One of my favourite routes starts at the back of the postgraduate college, Wentworth. It leads straight to Millennium Bridge on the River Ouse, about 20 minutes from the town centre.

This path will take you across Walmgate Stray (with its infamously placid herd of cows) and through Fulford – ideal for an Aldi pit stop.

2. A great one for Freshers’ Week is the Solar System trail. Implemented by AstroSoc, it covers both campuses and is a scale model of the planets. It begins at the Astro Campus behind the Sports Centre and finishes on Campus East.

This is a fab way to get your bearings before lectures start if the Campus Tree Trail isn’t your thing.

Chill Places

Being one of the most green (literally) campuses you will ever come across, York naturally has lots of locations ideal for de-stressing.

3. The Quiet Place Garden is often a place you’ll have exclusive use of, as you have to first obtain a key card from Derwent Reception to access it.

It’s a small, gated courtyard behind the Quiet Place (recognisable by the large, questionably-shaped bushes – hard to miss, really) at Heslington Hall.

Heslington Hall

The Quiet Place itself, although not so hidden, is a really nice place to relax on a sunny day if you can’t face the 2 minute walk to Derwent and back. It’s still peaceful and sheltered. Although, you might want to think about bringing a blanket to sit on to avoid the inevitable goose ‘residue’.

Study spaces

If you’re anything like me, when it comes to uni work, you’ll be much more productive with a change of scenery. As much as I loved my room in first year, I couldn’t be cooped up all day. I liked to make the most of the variety of places to work on campus.

4. The university library is by no means hidden, but it is definitely a gem and has some lesser-known amenities that you can take advantage of.

For example, they have laptops you can borrow should you ever need one. I’ve used these a few times for spontaneous, mid-exam season library sessions. You’ve got to make the most of the motivation when it hits you, even if it’s at 11pm on your way back from the Courtyard Cafe. Remarkably, I often found that a troublesome essay became much less-so during these times.

5. The Fairhurst section of the library actually has its own kitchen complete with microwave and hot water dispenser. It’s free for anyone to use.

I’ve only just found out about this one. I feel like I’ve been missing out on midnight Pot Noodle opportunities all year!

It’s also recently been made permanent after a trial period, so it’s here to stay. There is also a shower room there too, so technically there’s no excuse to ever leave (yay).

6. My final hidden gems are two new ‘libraries’ to campus this past year.

Library@Piazza is on the top floor of the Piazza Building on Campus East. It’s complete with pretty much every type of soft furnishing you could ask for. Not to mention the fabulous views of the lake.

Secondly, Spring Lane Building is home to a great study space that’s Campus West’s answer to the new Piazza facility. I made use of it when I fancy different surroundings or something closer to my accommodation on this campus.

Everyone ends up discovering their own favourite part of campus throughout their time at York, but these are just a few of mine to get you started.

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Hi, I’m Tara, a 2nd Year Psychology student and I’m in Alcuin College. People have this idea that you shouldn’t go to uni too close to home, but I chose York because it’s such a cosy city, and has the bonus of being close to where I live.