Durham Hill Colleges Bar Crawl

Even if you are rather attached to your liver, a hill college bar crawl is still a great opportunity to see other colleges’ bars and compare them to your own. There’s also a little fact of knowledge so you can amaze (or bore) your friends on the way!

Given that most college bars open at either 7pm or 7:30pm, picking the right place to start is crucial. Durham Uni Students starts with Butler College, since it’s at the top of the hill.

Butler Bar

Quite possibly the largest college bar, Butler College bar is huge. Perhaps cruelly compared to an aircraft hangar, the bar’s high ceiling and perfect white walls did feel barren when it opened alongside the college in 2006, but Butler students have since covered one wall entirely with posters, and there is much more furniture to chose from now, including some incredibly relaxing free-standing hammocks.

Butler Knowledge

Butler College is Durham University’s newest and only fully self-catering college.

Ustinov Bar

Ustinov College, a post graduate college, is an ideal bar for a quiet second drink to start the bar crawl, but its later opening hours (midnight on Friday and Saturday nights) also make it a possibility as a last stop in a bar crawl. The bar itself has plenty of chairs and tables, as well as sofas, and there are plenty of quiet corners to hide in for a while.

Ustinov Knowledge

Ustinov College is Durham University’s third largest college.

Trevelyan Bar

Moving on from Ustinov, the next stop is Treveylan College. Trev’s bar is spacious, but the bar is small and reasonably popular, meaning you may be queueing a while.

Treveylan Knowledge

Trev’s was an all-female college when it first opened.

Van Mildert Bar

Van Mildert bar is easily found just down the stairs from Mildert’s reception area, and whilst seating is limited, there is plenty of space to stand and talk in other areas of the JCR.

Van Mildert Knowledge

Mildert takes its name from a former prince bishop of Durham.

St Aidan’s Bar

Aidan's College crest, © Durham Uni Students
St Aidan’s is the next stop, being a brisk walk away from Mildert. The bar isn’t too easily accessible through the main entrance – carry on walking around the side of the building, and you’ll get to the bar, which juts out from the side of the college. The entrance is around the back of the building. A small bar, Aidan’s has sudden extremes of quiet and loud with bar crawls coming and going which seem more noticeable in Aidan’s than elsewhere.

St Aidan’s Knowledge

St Aidan’s College has its roots in the late 1800s, at first being based on the bailey and dedicated to education of the very few female students at Durham University.

St Mary’s Bar

Down the hill from Aidan’s, across the road and down St Mary’s long drive, Mary’s bar is well hidden – it’s in the building to your right at the end of drive, through the main door, left again, right at the end of the corridor, and at the bottom of the stairs – and quite small. Renowned as Durham’s ‘worst bar’, Mary’s is often the last stop on bar crawls, but sneaking into it early in your bar crawl schedule should lessen your chances of being stuck behind another group on a bar crawl at the bar.

St Mary’s Knowledge

St Mary’s College adopted its name in 1920. It was previously located on Palace Green, near the cathedral.

Grey Bar

Grey College is next, after crossing South Road (past Mary’s main buildings). Grey’s bar is comfortable, and although the bar itself is small, Grey is usually quiet, forgotten by students who dismiss the bar as ‘too quiet’ and ‘hotel-like’.

Grey Knowledge

Grey College was the second hill college to be formed, after St Mary’s.

Collingwood Bar

Collingwood is next, just up the hill from Grey. One of Durham’s larger colleges, Collingwood’s bar is quite spacious and yet instantly feels homely with its padded benching and stools and dark wood interior. The bar is quite large, with 3 of the bar committee usually serving at any one time after 8pm, but expect queues for drinks if a bar crawl appears, since Collingwood is a popular stop-off for those in fancy dress.

Collingwood Knowledge

Collingwood College is perhaps best known as a sporting college, but its alumni include David Kershaw, CEO of M&C Saatchi, the media agency and a former controller of BBC One.


That’s it; every hill college bar visited in one swift visit. Once you’ve recovered, you may want to try the Durham bailey colleges bar crawl, or even risk the full college bar crawl.