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Annual Retreat 2013

Complexity Annual Retreat 14th-17th May 2013

YHA Borrowdale, Lake District


  • This year we will be staying at YHA Borrowdale in the beautiful Lake District (Address: Longthwaite, Borrowdale, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5XE).
  • Our two speakers will be DR Rosemary Harris (QMU) who will be giving her talk : "Reflections from the Sandpit", and Prof Robin Ball ( University of Warwick) who will be giving his talk on the ignoble prize winning research topic of "The Science of Hair"
  • Transport will be provided from the department to the Lake District, leaving at 08:15 on the 14th of May, and returning by 4pm on the 17th of May. We must vacate the rooms in the hostel by 10:30 on 17th May. Please leave the rooms tidy and strip the beds.
  • If you are making your own way to the hostel please let us know if you have not already done so. There is car parking space on site.
  • We will have interesting talks from both external and internal speakers, including our PhD students. There will also be the MSc mini-project poster presentation, and some breakout sessions. In addition there will be free time to explore the Lakes.
  • As in previous years there will be a small poster competition for the MSc posters, with Amazon vouchers for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
  • All our meals will be provided by the YHA, and we will be staying in dormitory-style accommodation with shared bathrooms. Please see the room plan here(PDF Document). Rooms swaps can be organised between individuals, but please note that rooms must be single gender.
  • In the local area, there are many outdoors activities (walking, cycling, climbing, boat trips on Derwentwater) and the nearest town is Keswick where there are some museums and a theatre.
  • The YHA Borrowdale has its own bar, and there are two pubs within local walking distance.
  • Please note that there is often no phone signal at the hostel as it is in a valley, and phone signal in the Lake district is generally not good. If you require mobile phone signal then you will need to travel to the town of Keswick, or walk up one of the nearby hills. Please also note that there will not be free wi-fi access at the hostel.
Free time options:

There will be free time on the afternoon of Wednesday 15th May. We will not arrange activities for the group, but have provided a list of suggestions and leave you to make your own arrangements (note, that some may require advanced booking). Please remember that although the department is funding the retreat, it will not fund the free time activities.

Suggestions from the hostel for free time activities:

  • Walk to Keswick; it is 8 miles, which is a lovely amble of 4 hours and you can return by bus back down the valley. Keswick has a variety of outdoor shops, the fabulous Friar’s chocolate shops, and some great coffee shops including the Square Orange which does great coffee and hot chocolate. There is also Fitz Park which is quite pleasant to walk around.
  • At Plattyplus you can rent Kayaks, canoes, paddles and buoyancy aids per hour, and go for a paddle on Derwentwater (the nearby lake). This is strongly recommend by the hostel as a great activity. The suggestion is to hire out a kayak or canoe and paddle out to St Herberts Island and back. It is a great way to see the lake district and great value at only £7. If a group of us wants to go out on the lake, there is also a Viking boat, but this may need advanced booking, please see their webiste.
  • Visit Honister Slate mine and do the Via Ferata. This activity requires advanced booking, costs around £35 per person, and takes between 2-3hours. And it looks really fun!
  • There is an indoor climbing wall at Keswick, where you can get climbing tuition or have a go a bouldering on their bouldering wall.
  • You can travel to Keswick over Derwent water by the launch boat, or hire the very heavy rowing boats up by the theatre by the lake.
  • Go for a walk… anywhere! The Lake district is a lovely place to hike, and there are plenty of possible walks to suit all, leaving from the hostel. One recommendation is Castle Cragg; it has a sense of adventure about it, is the littlest “Wainright Walk,” has great views from the war memorial at the top, and you can get phone signal here! Please ensure you have the correct maps for your planned route, and that you let someone else know where you are going and what time you expect to be back for safety reasons.
  • If anyone likes to run you can have a go at the King of the Castle Time Trail!
  • Swim in the local river… it can be very cold, but if the weather is good there is the fairy glen which is great for swimming in.
  • Play a round of golf at the course near Keswick. Please see their website for more details. 
To take list:

As the coach will be large and the roads are small, there will be a short walk from the coach drop off point to the hostel so remember to pack light!

  • Towel,
  • Cash for free time options and bar,
  • Waterproof clothing (the British weather is unpredictable!),
  • Walking shoes/trainers for sports,
  • Laptop and presentation (PhD students)/ Poster (MSc students),
  • Torch (for walking to the pub, as we are staying in a rural area).