February 1, 2023, by UoN School of English

Never underestimate the power of a green campus

Think about the size of your local duck pond, then multiply it by a thousand. That’s probably half the size of the University of Nottingham’s on-campus lake, and half the ducks. Other universities would struggle to provide such a scenic trip for visiting family members but there’s room for everyone on the 121-acre expanse of Highfields Park. Summer brings an affordable boat-hiring service to the lake, which is a fantastic way to get to know new friends. You can never be short of conversation when drifting past the many mysterious islands, whose resident birds include herons and cranes. Boating is also a lovely date – signing the hire form is a great time to say “Just like a marriage contract, ha ha.”

The quieter end of the lake extends into a wooded area, with water passing under a stone bridge. Standing on this bridge for a while is never a bad use of time and you might spot the odd heron along the bank. The difference between them extending their strange necks and keeping them secretively tucked in is incredible, as seen in the two pictures:

Two pictures of the same heron side-by-side. In both images the heron is sitting by the University of Nottingham University Park lake on a rainy day. On the left image, the heron has it's neck tucked in. In the right image, the heron has its neck extended.

For introverted folk, it is entirely possible to arrange your schedule so that you interact with more squirrels than students. The devious creatures can be found all across campus; groups like to converge under oak trees on quiet mornings. No one knows what they talk about, but they seem busy. Equally passionate about acorns are the jays. Their quaint brown and blue plumage make them easy to spot as they hop about in the grass, and you can never unsee the black moustache once you’ve noticed it.

A jay bird perched on a rotting tree stump. It is brown with patches of blue.

Access to nature is also prevalent throughout the city, providing great day trips which are helped by the free hopper buses out of the university and the cheap and efficient tram network, with a station next to Highfields Park. Night strolls are just as easy to plan. The beautifully imposing Wollaton Hall (used as Wayne Manor in Batman) is within two miles of the University, and its gates are open till 8:30pm. Certain benches offer an unobstructed view of the stars on a dark winter evening – just don’t be surprised if a deer races past!

Wollaton Hall at night, illuminated with a blue light.


– Lauren Isherwood



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