Posted 1 July 2013
A monthly special featuring a current student from Harper Adams University.
When it came to choosing accommodation for her second year of study, 20-year-old Anne Walker took a more unconventional approach than choosing a house in nearby Newport.
Anne, who studies BSc (Hons) Countryside Management at Harper Adams University, lives on a canal boat named ‘Meadowsweet’, currently moored near Shebdon, Staffordshire.
She said: “It was a spur of the moment thing really. My family own the boat for holidays and we decided that I could use it instead of renting a house during university.
“It’s great because when I start my placement year with Natural England, I can just move the boat there instead of searching for accommodation.”
Anne from Leyburn, North Yorkshire, admits that running the boat can be hard work and is not for the faint hearted.
She added: “It can be challenging. The boat requires maintenance and repairs, and it’s key to think ahead when it comes to using power as it’s not instant.
“But it’s a different experience and why shouldn’t you push the boundaries a little bit?”
Meadowsweet is kitted out with a mini Aga and gas stove as well as everything Anne needs for day-to-day living.
Despite being on the boat away from campus, she is rarely lonely as her friends enjoy visiting and she has plenty of assignments and work to complete for university.
Anne, whose hobbies include walking, woodland management and conservation, said: “One of the best things about the boat is the wildlife including kingfishers, ducks, swans, birds – I’m close to it all.
“There’s also the freedom of being able to travel, it’s easy to explore local areas via the canal system.”
Anne is now preparing for her placement year at Fenn’s Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses near Whitchurch. Although a voluntary placement, she has been able to fund her living costs by being awarded the Jean Jackson Charitable Trust scholarship, worth up to £10,000.
She said: “At home we live in a rural location – my Mum is a self-employed gardener and my family is very interested in conservation.
“So when it came to choosing a university, Harper Adams stood out as one of the best places to study anything rural.
“The placement year is a great opportunity that not many universities offer and the lecturers have relevant industry experience.
“Though I’m not sure about what I’d like to do in the future, I’m hoping that my placement year and the rest of the course will help me to decide and point me in the right direction.”