Exeter has a leading reputation as one of the top 10/15 Universities in the UK, but many may be surprised to know is that there is more to Exeter than its main Streatham campus. There are several other campuses, largest of which is the Penryn Campus based in Cornwall, and with an ever expanding field of subjects and growing student numbers, this campus is going to become more prominent. Cornwall in the summer is an absolute delight, with a host of touristy spots and off the beaten track gems to be discovered.
Penryn presents a host of opportunities for those who may want a break from the city or large towns, and being twinned with Falmouth University it has quite a laid back/hipster vibe with a range of independent shops, so you won’t always find your chain stores/restaurants. Particular highlights from my time there were aptly named Beerwolf books which doubles as a bookshop/café by day and a trendy bar by night and is one of Falmouth’s best venues for daytime and evening socialising or somewhere to buy cheap books. Being in Cornwall it is hard to overlook the beaches and Falmouth has several to choose from, Gylly beach is a short walk from the town centre and boasts a fantastic café which does phenomenal coffee & cake and larger meals as well and will, I’m sure, have been a highlight for many students during their time at Exeter. A great spot for family meals is Harbour Lights, one of Cornwall’s finest Fish n chip restaurants, always delivering on quality. In terms of nightlife, Falmouth is a bit of an odd beast, for a town its size it boasts some great bars, the likes of Grapes, Finn Mcoull’s, Chainlocker and Quayside to name but a few, however the quality of its clubbing is probably debatable, although after a few drinks and in good company do you really mind anyway?!
One of the perks of a politics degree in Penryn is without doubt the now annual trip to New York, and various trips are also offered to biosciences and Geography students, including to Costa Rica, Borneo and South Africa. Students at both campuses can take part in the summer Grand Challenges fortnight, with Penryn’s equivalent making use of the world famous Eden Project.
The quality of teaching and layout of the campus is much the same as Streatham truth be told, with Koofi providing a great break from lectures with cheap Starbucks products and superb Pizza, the Stannary is a great spot for a day-time coffee or drink and a pool game or two, and doubles as the largest venue in Cornwall to put on a host of events from the Freshers Ball to various decade music nights. One of my personal fondest memories was attending Graduation Ball in the grounds of Pendennis castle, a night to be remembered for sure at such a wonderful venue.
Streatham is like Penryn’s older sibling in some way’s offering contrasting things to appreciate, a larger campus means a larger choice in study space, one of my personal favourites is the underlooked Queens café (Camper coffee) who do some of the best lunch time deals going, and top notch coffee, in summer you can sit out and bask in the sunshine, with some green space opposite. DH1 when not too busy is a great spot with Comida’s wraps legendary on campus, then there is the terrace delivering some great street food.
Exeter is a great city for folk into the arts with a range of Cinema’s and concert venues and for a city it’s size you actually get a surprise range of acts in town (Bob Marley played the Uni in the 70s), the likes of the 1975, Blossoms, Muse and the Specials have played in the past few years with more playing this year. The Picturehouse Cinema delivers an affordable night of quality films with chains like Odeon and Vue also available, the campus itself does multiple screenings each week of the latest releases as part of the Campus Cinema for a fraction of the cost of a trip to the cinema.
The Quay and South Street boast some of the best spots in Exeter, a walk along the quay on a summer’s morning is a therapeutic experience that will clear any hungover heads. On the Waterfront rivals the famous Old Firehouse for the title of best Pizza in Exeter, the Quay also boasts several great pubs and cafes so you won’t be spoilt for choice, my pick for that side of town would be March Coffee, who do some delicious doughnuts.
In terms of nightlife Exeter once again has a range of fantastic pubs, with the Ram and Lemon Grove on campus should you not want to stray too far afield, and the Imperial which was the largest Wetherspoons in the UK until 2018. Some favourites in town include Blackhorse, which is a must for any sporting events, Hole in the Wall and, in the summer, Mill on the Exe is a lovely location right on the waterfront. In terms of clubs the big two are really Timepiece and Unit One, with the likes of Fever vying to usurp them. Cavern boasts a good night for fans of more alternative music, with House nights on Friday’s and Indie Nights on Saturday’s with live bands featuring regularly.
One of the highlights of my time at Exeter was without doubt the range of opportunities presented by the different campuses and the range of people you meet as a result of that, I feel the campuses coexist wonderfully and it’s important that we shine a light on Penryn so it can have its moment in the spotlight as it is as deserving in its own ways.
Photos and words by Chris Connor (Politics and International Relations, 2017 and MA International Relations, 2018)