WITH deadlines and essays and exams, sometimes this last term can become a bit of an uphill trudge. It’s no way to live, up to your ears in books and past papers. You know full well that the moment you sit at the laptop the sun is going to come out and the texts demanding your attendance at the beach for the day are going to come in, so embrace the breaks when they come.
There’s loads on this last term and a heap of stuff you can really enjoy now the sun is here. We aboard the good ship ASM have made a list of all the things we and you have been putting off for a day with better weather, and all the things you should do before you go (don’t think about it too much, fret not over life outside the uni bubble).
We’re not recommending you try and complete this list in an afternoon; if you knocked out this whole thing in one go, I doff my cap in your direction, but definitely cross some of these off before you’re away for the summer:
1. Constitution Hill.
There’s so much going on up Consti that it gets the top spot, no contest. A walk up to the top on a good day is one of the better hangover cures you don’t use; the fresh air and sea views will rid you of all ills. However, if you were conductor of the Jaegertrain the night before and you feel like the walk will be the death of you, you can take the actual train up the side of the hill. It’s the longest hillside railway in the UK and really puts the fun back in Electric Funicular Railway.
In the day you can get yourself an ice cream and take in a great view of the Irish Sea and play a round of Frisbee Golf (it’s fun right up until it becomes horribly competitive), and it’s one of many spots to take in a beautiful sunset. Plus, this term it’s taken over by the annual Conquer The Cliff competition, where you can see some seriously brave biking down the bridges and winding paths to Alex Halls. It’s dramatic, speedy, and a good reason to sun yourself.
2. Kick the bar of Alex Halls.
The story behind this old superstition (as the sign next to the bar will tell you if you check it out) is that the boys from the university would kick the bar to attract the attention of the girls in Alex Halls. The was back in ye olde days when Alex Halls was a girls-only dormitory, but now students kick the bar for good luck in their degrees. Believe what you will, I’m not going to miss out on some free luck.
3. Walk to Borth.
The coastal path to Borth is about five miles and is seriously beautiful. Put food in a bag to make a picnic (instructions not included in this list) or go without and treat yourself to a pub lunch when you get there.
Don’t just jump back on the train either; you’re right next to Borth Animalarium and you should never miss an opportunity to see a leopard. Their reptiles are also pretty sweet, so go and see a snake or two.
3.1. For an added bonus mile you can keep going all the way to Ynyslas and go and play in the sand dunes. They’re massive and some make for a great shelter for a beach BBQ. You can go for a dip in the sea, and see all the way to Aberdovey across the waters.
4. Spot yourself some wildlife.
The two big ones for Aber are red kites and dolphins. One is in the sky and the other is in the sea, so those are good places to start looking. Red kites often turn up over Blaendolau but the dolphins are more elusive, so it could mean getting an ice cream and going for a long walk along the seafront. Horrible, right?
5. Go up Pendinas.
Who can forget about the second most popular hill (sorry Cardiac) in Aber? Follow South Beach as far as you can and you’ll get to the footpath that takes you along the sea-facing side, so get ready for more stunning views. At the top you can look at a massive chimney, which is a novelty other hills don’t have. Go down the other side for a tranquil stroll through a tunnel of trees leaving dappled light on the quiet floor. It’s pretty sweet.
6. Put five people in your mate’s car and try and drive up Cardiac Hill.
Morrisons beer run + a carful of people = the ultimate challenge. It’s surprising how much life can flash before your eyes on this monster. The 45o angle feels like a vertical wall when it wants to. Relish the smell of melted tyres as you barely make it. Pray you don’t have to do a hill start.
7. Go to Yoko’s
Wait for it…
Want to experience something horrible? Stay there till lights up. It’s an experience. Let’s leave it at that.
8. Attempt to drink the walls of Cambrian.
This is something you will occasionally hear a fresher say. If you were listening about four years ago, you would’ve heard myself and a friend say this. We even planned a three-year drinking schedule. We were fools. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t order something you’ve never seen someone get before. There’s some real beverages hidden on those walls, so get looking.
9. Check out the Vale Of Rheidol & Devil’s Bridge.
Whether you go via the classic steam engine or by road is up to you but it’s definitely worth a journey. Devil’s Bridge is not only the scene of some grizzly bits of Hinterland but it’s also very scenic. The trail you follow takes you all the way to the bottom of the waterfall and back up, so take a camera for some quality snaps.
10. Fight some wildlife.
Rumour has it that staff won’t let you collect your degree at graduation if you have outstanding library fines. However, it’s a stone cold fact that they won’t let you if you haven’t had an altercation with a seagull. It’s a rite of passage.
Here you can see all the latest releases a week later, but the intimacy and nostalgia of the single-screen wonder is not to be missed. If you were actually looking for the pub and walked in by accident, fret not; the bar is downstairs.
12. Have a bonfire on the beach.
Sometimes you need to have a good old fashioned stuff-burning. Get some wood and see the sun set below the horizon while you keep warm. Good with food, better with beers. Add friends to taste.
13. Have a beer on the pier.
Soft drinks are also available, but any drink over the edge of the Irish Sea is almost unbeatable. Go through the arcade if you want to get rid of the last of your coppers, and remind yourself to stick to pool with a game of snooker. It’s too big a table, just walk away.
14. See the starling cloud.
Usually flying around the pier of an evening, get your camera out again for a shot of the starling cloud. It’s mesmerising, and if you time it with a sunset you’ll not need to change your Facebook cover photo for months. Double whammy.
15. Go to an Aber Town game.
It’s football played with heart and soul at Park Avenue, the home ground of Aberystwyth Town FC. It’s £3 at the gate and you always get a great atmosphere. If you can’t make it down there for Town, it’s also the site of the Aber Town Cup Final in the DIGS league this term. Last year went down to penalties, and there’s bound to be fireworks again this time.
16. Have a hangover breakfast.
There’s a lot of places to eat in Aber but I know of only two places that can mend you after the night before. Sophie’s serve all kinds of restorative breakfast foods (and they’ll put anything with anything, we’re talking a full english on waffles here people), but for those looking for something on the move you’re going to need a Morgan’s Bap.
17. See an Aber sunrise.
You’ll need to be up a hill for this one as it rises in the east (usually), so go for the longest detour home after Inn On shuts, or set an alarm and rise early to get up Pendinas or Consti.
18. Walk to the lighthouse on South Beach.
Out beyond the jetty, just before South South Beach (that’s really south) is Aber’s lighthouse at the end of its narrow concrete walkway. Already seen the sunrise? Get down here to see a man with a novelty-sized key walk along and switch it off after a night of flashing out to sea. It’s rad.
19. Check out the Castle ruins.
Just beyond Angel is the remains of Aber Castle and they’re worth a visit. Imagine yourself as a knight, back when all of it was walls and marvel at the size it would’ve been. It was definitely bigger than your castle is.
20. Go to Fire In The Mountain Festival.
Just after term ends this five-day festival takes over an undisclosed location (only ticket holders get to find out) with a celebration of all kinds of easy living. Last year saw a pedal-powered cinema, The Healing Field, and shamans amongst the various stages of folk, bluegrass, Welsh and country music. If you want to get away from everything in a likely-to-be stunning setting, this could be your affordable option; a ticket is only £90 as a student.
Whether you’re playing or not, this weekend on May Day bank holiday is easily one of the biggest events in Aber all year. The atmosphere is brilliant and it’s one of the many reasons to get out and sun yourself with a drink in hand. Pimm’s please.