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University of Birmingham Sport

What Is The Raymond Priestley Centre

The Raymond Priestley Centre is the University of Birmingham’s outdoor education centre. We provide residential courses, which focus on learning using outdoor activities and the outdoor environment.

The Centre is located on the shore of Coniston Water in the Lake District, Cumbria in the North West of England. The Lake District is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A friendly and professional staff with extensive experience of teaching and coaching people in team skills through the medium of outdoor and adventurous activities. The Centre has a strong history of providing memorable, valuable and worthwhile learning programmes to undergraduate and postgraduate students.


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The Raymond Priestley Centre is recognised by the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres as having achieved the ‘Gold Standard’ for the quality of provision and teaching of its courses. The Centre is also a Royal Yachting Association recognised teaching centre.

What We Do

  • Provide outstanding opportunities to learn and develop the key skills required to work effectively with other people
  • Create a positive learning environment that allows individuals and teams to try things out as they develop new skills
  • Use adventurous activities such as canoeing, mountain walking and problem solving activities to help individuals work together as a team
  • Provide resources and training that are flexible and allow participants to see how lessons learnt during the course will be useful in their normal working situation.


You will be working with other students from your course in a small team of 7 or 8 people. Your team will take on challenges that will require all team members to contribute to and develop a plan that enables you to work effectively together.

More information

  • Important opportunities to develop listening skills
  • Time to communicate your own ideas and formulate plans through discussion with team members
  • Be responsible for the decisions you make
  • Manage yourself in a new situation
  • Develop your confidence and ability to cope with change
  • Improve your ability to contribute to your team and help others in your team to develop
  • Opportunities to develop your resilience to cope with whatever life brings your way.
  • Be prepared to make your best effort and contribute your skills to the team
  • Be ready to communicate your thoughts and ideas
  • Take part in discussions with your team mates in order to form plans
  • Be willing to support your team, to help team members be the best they can be.
  • The Centre is comfortable and in a superb location it is not a luxurious 5 star hotel.
  • The wi-fi connection in the area is adequate, but not super fast!
  • Everyone helps with serving meals, washing up and tidying the Centre.
  • It is a group work experience. Time to talk with each other is a key part of the experience, rather than spending the whole time on the internet!

Employers expect their staff to have excellent group work skills. They will employ the attitude and then train the skills as necessary. Our courses provide opportunities to develop the attributes employers are looking for by giving you real examples you can use at interview that demonstrate how you:

  • Took initiative and responsibility when working in a new learning environment
  • Formed positive working relationships with new groups of people
  • How you dealt with a situation that challenged you as an individual
  • Made a positive contribution to a team
  • Found a way forward after things didn’t go according to plan for your team
  • The Centre has 8 cabin style bedrooms with bunk beds sleeping 4 and 6 people. There is a 6 berth yurt in the grounds. There is separate accommodation for group leaders.
  • Lounge – comfy sofas, log burner and views directly onto the lake make this a comfortable area. We use it for teams to meet in and review work. In the evening it is a great place to relax and talk about the day’s adventures.
  • Games Room – has a pool table, bar football and table tennis. All free of charge. The room is used as a team meeting space during the daytime. We also have various board games and jig saw puzzles.
  • The Terra Nova Room is the main meeting room for programme briefings and group work. The room has pictures and display boards detailing Captain Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition to Antarctica.
  • Shower and Changing Rooms – provide space for changing for activities and there is plenty of hot water for showers! Please note we do not provide towels, or toiletries.

Bedding and laundry for your bed is provided. Outdoor equipment such as walking boots, waterproofs, wet-suits, buoyancy aids is provided.

You will need to bring the following:

  • A towel and personal toiletries.
  • Several changes of clothes to use during activities. These may become muddy or wet.
  • A swimming costume/underwear to wear under wetsuits. You will not need to go swimming.
  • Casual clothes to wear around the Centre when activities have finished.
  • A jumper, or fleece to provide a warmer layer of clothing.
  • Thick socks that you can wear inside of walking boots.
  • Training shoes to wear during water sports that you don’t mind getting wet.
  • In cooler weather a woolly hat and gloves.
  • A warm jacket to wear out side. Useful in winter months.
  • In warmer weather a sunhat and sun cream. Sunglasses.
  • A torch will be useful.
  • Sufficient supply of any medication you normally take eg for managing asthma, or diabetes.

On courses where the Centre is responsible for the catering 3 meals are provided each day.

  • Breakfast – choice of cereals, fruit, toast, tea or coffee.
  • Lunch – typically soup, and on different days this is followed by pasta bake & salad, or rolls with a choice of fillings, or jacket potato with a choice of fillings. Cake or fruit.
  • Evening meal – a main course and dessert. For instance the main course may be curry and rice, meat and potato pie, lasagne. Dessert may be fruit salad, apple crumble, sticky toffee pudding.
  • On courses where the Centre provides catering tea, coffee, water and cordials are available throughout the day and are free. Fruit and snacks are also available should you need them.

Dietary requirements need to be notified before your visit when completing the medical form. For instance you need a vegetarian meal, are gluten or lactose intolerant, or have a specific allergy. The catering staff are available to discuss with you the content of meals to ensure you are happy.

  • Download

    Medical Form

  • Download

    Postgraduate Course Programme

  • Download

    Undergraduate Course Programme



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Spectator events

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Hiring a badminton, table tennis or tennis court is easy with Pay & Go. You can also hire equipment from reception.



Discover new heights with  a range of sessions for adults and juniors including climbing taster sessions, climbing courses and Pay & Go Climb.