Frequently Asked Questions
How do I join the club?
You can log into the Students’ Union website using your UCL email and password. Search for the UCL Hiking Club in the directory, and there will be an option to buy one of our three memberships.
How much is membership, and what does membership include?
All memberships include access to our four Try It! Hikes, the weekly newsletter, and a 15% discount from Cotswold. Don't worry if you aren't on campus this term but will be joining us next term - you can easily upgrade your membership to enjoy all the hiking perks!
Free Membership - Open to anyone and everyone! This is for those who would like to join the club but can't be with us on campus. It includes online socials, as well as online hiking activities and news.
Full Membership (£10) – This is everything the club has to offer. It includes all online and in-person activities. You will need this membership if you wish to join us on our regular weekend hikes (after the Try It! Hikes)
What is membership money going towards?
Membership fees predominantly go towards training walk leaders and first aiders in order to keep you safe. They are also used to buy club equipment, subsidise social events, pay for annual subscriptions for our digital software, and our membership to our National Governing Body (Ramblers).
Can I still join the club even if I can't make every event?
Absolutely! Please note that you do not have to turn up to all our activities. You are free to attend as few or as many as you wish, be it hikes or socials.
When and where do you hike?
This year we will be running two hikes to the same destination each weekend, on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Our day hikes take place across South-East England - some close/within London and others further away, such as the North and South Downs, the south coast, and the Chiltern Hills. Generally for our weekend day hikes, we range anywhere from an hour train to 2.5 hour train out of London.
What is the average difficulty of the hikes?
We will be running a range of hikes for those of all abilities, from beginner to seasoned rambler. All our hikes will be rated out of 10, with information about length, climb, and terrain posted with each. We recommend if you’re a complete beginner to start with hikes rated 4 or below, but full details about how each hike is rated can be found on our website: uclhikingclub.co.uk. If you’re worried about your fitness level we recommend starting with beginner hikes and working your way up to the more challenging ones.
How much does it cost to attend a hike?
You have to pay for your train tickets for each hike (which is why we recommend a 16-25 Railcard because it can get pricey!) With a Railcard, prices usually range between £10-£15 per hike, but our harder hikes are generally more expensive (anywhere between £15-£30) as they are further away from London.
How do I buy my train tickets?
We recommend you buy your tickets online in advance of the hike. Our recommended app to do this with is 'Avanti West Coast', which also gives you access to e-tickets. You can also purchase them online on the National Rail site or ScotRail. These all allow you to book your train without having to pay a booking fee. The 'Trainline' app is also very good, but they ask for a £0.30 booking fee with every ticket.
How long does a hike last for?
This depends on the weather, the skill level of the participants, and any unforeseen issues that may be encountered on the day. We usually reach the beginning of the hike between 9:00-10:00, and aim to catch the train back to London anywhere between 16:00-18:00. We recommend you schedule the whole day off if you’re coming on a hike, because we cannot guarantee when exactly we’ll be returning to London. We also recommend for this reason that you purchase OPEN RETURN train tickets, so you’re not committed to a certain return train time.
Do I need to book in advance to come on a hike?
Yes. We are only allowed a maximum of people 30 people on each hike this year, so you will need to book a ticket on Eventbrite (link with each hike when it’s advertised) to confirm your place on a hike. This is on a first come, first serve basis. We also recommend you book your train ticket in advance once it’s been confirmed you have a spot on the hike!
Can I attend a hike if I haven't paid the joining fee?
You have to have purchased one of our memberships (free or full) to come on hikes. If you have any of these you are welcome to come on one of our Try It! Hikes. If you missed those for whatever reason (full capacity, you were in self-isolation, etc.) but want to try a hike before buying the full membership, you can be given access to one free hike of your choice to try out. Just message the club to let us know you’re interested and we’ll send you the details. After that, if you want to come on hikes, you need to have purchased the full (£10) membership.
Can I bring a family/friend/dog on a hike (if they're not a member)?
Due to Covid regulations, unfortunately no non-club members can come on our hikes, and we can only have the registered number of people attending each hike. If you wish to bring a pet please ask the walk leader.
If I have already signed up for an event and I’m unable to attend, what do I need to do?
You need to message the walk leader ASAP, to inform them you are unable to attend. This allows for other people to sign up and take your spot.
How do I get to the meeting/help point at the train station?
The itinerary for each hike will provide comprehensive details of the train you need to catch and the station where you need to meet the activity leaders. We will also list the station you need to get off at for the hike, so nobody misses the stop! This year things will be a bit different with meeting points to avoid having a large clump of people in the station:
Once you have signed up for a hike on Eventbrite, you will be given the full details of the time and place the train will be leaving. If you are experienced with England’s trains, you are welcome to find the platform and train on your own and get on. However if you are unfamiliar and would like help finding the right train, we will have a designated area in each station where you can find a walk leader who will point you in the direction you need to go. These walk leaders will be wearing bright red hats so you can’t miss them!
How do we practice social distancing during a hike?
If the path is wide, you can walk next to people to talk to them, but only if you can keep 2m distance between yourselves. If there is not enough space to walk next to each other, walk single file, with 2m distance between you and the person in front of you. We understand this will be hard and unintuitive, but it is extremely important we try our best to keep our distance.
Do I need to wear a mask while hiking?
No. You only need to wear one when we can’t social distance (in train stations, on public transportation, etc.). We do ask that everyone bring hand sanitizer and sanitize regularly.
What should I wear? Do I need any special clothing or equipment?
You do not need any special clothing or equipment. Wear comfortable clothes such as hiking trousers, and we recommend you do not wear cotton or jeans. Waterproof trousers or gaiters to keep the rain and mud off your trousers are extremely helpful.
Should I invest in hiking boots, since they are quite pricey?
Most of our hikes in the South East of England, where we do majority of our weekend day hikes are on established paths. There may be undulation and rocks so attention should be payed to foot placement. Ankle protection is not required unless you have weak ankles or are carrying heavy loads. That being said, many of our hikes get very muddy, so we would recommend footwear with a good grip and waterproofing is advantageous.
On residentials, which we will hopefully be able to run next semester, full hiking boots are required as we tackle more serious terrain and will likely walk off tracks.
What is a 16-25 Railcard? Should I buy one?
With a 16-25 Railcard, you’ll get 1/3 discount off Off-Peak rail fares while travelling in the UK. With the Hiking Club, we always aim to take Off-Peak trains, so you’re sure to make good use of the discounts! If you connect it to your Oyster Card, you’ll save 1/3 on the tube too. A Railcard costs £30 a year, or £70 for three years, and we highly recommend you get one if you’re planning on coming on hikes often!