I went to all 16 Durham college bars in one night so you don’t have to

… and I got it so, so wrong


It’s on every Durham student’s university bucket list. It’s illustrious. It’s seemingly impossible. You’ve heard people talk about it, but has it actually been done? Has anyone ever completed all 16 college bars in one night and lived to tell the tale?

To add some flair to the bar crawl, we were all responsible for an egg which we had to keep safe for the whole night. Additionally, we decided to implement a pub cricket system where players would gain runs for speed and choice of drink, aiming to speed up the process in doing so. A cathedral was 80 runs, a castle 40, a pint 10 and so on, while chuns and toilet breaks would lose runs. This most definitely gave the game a competitive edge but did lead to some arguments when I was inevitably eventually unable to record the score correctly.

Read on to get a bar-by-bar run down of my experience trying to complete every college bar in Durham in one night, from start to finish.

1. Jobo

Despite some slow walking, we reached Jobo before the clock had struck 7, ready to get extremely lubricated and a little loose. Being one of the only bars I can actually remember coherently, it could be said that this was a highlight of the evening. With the pace of 10 minutes a bar adhered to, beverage consumption was swift and spirits were high.

2. Stevo

After finally managing to find said bar, which looked more like a hobbit’s earthly basement, I got stuck into a Guinness and chopped it fairly quickly by my standards. At this point it felt like nothing could go wrong. I felt that the world was my oyster and that alcohol was something I had control over. How wrong I was, how wrong indeed.

3. John Snow

Disappointed to discover that The Igloo was actually more reminiscent of a village hall than an Antarctic feature, my mood only worsened when told that Snow didn’t have Guinness on tap. I reluctantly shifted to Dark Fruits, feeling 14 again as I tried to convince myself that it tasted like Ribena rather than alcohol poisoning.

4. South

After sprinting to South with the pub cricket lead in my sights, we decided to venture outside for our fourth beverage of the evening. Out of all of Durham’s college bars, I think it’s safe to say that South’s view of the A177 is not the most visually appealing and our visit to The Nest was fittingly underwhelming. To describe the atmosphere as flaccid would be a significant understatement.

5. Aidan’s

With my confidence/blood alcohol levels starting to rise, I foolishly chose to make my own way to Aidan’s, thinking I had discovered a shortcut. This was perhaps the first indicator that I was starting to get it quite wrong as I proceeded to get lost and hold the group up for five minutes. Shock.

On a more positive note, it turns out the notion of the “Aidan’s Language Café” is an absolute sham and the bartender looked positively pleased to see my Amstel disappear in one.

6. Mildert

The walk to Mildert marked the demise of the first egg of the night, but not the last. After a delicious pint, waterworks appeared imminent but I held strong, determined not to receive a five run penalty. Being over a third of the way through and somehow keeping to the time schedule, we were optimistic and genuinely thought the mission possible at this point.

7. Trevs

The beginning of the end. While nothing particularly outrageous happened in Trevs itself, it’s certainly when I was no longer “marginally tipsy” and instead actually fairly drunk. Add in the aggressive dancing between three of my housemates while the rest of us watched on in awe and you’ve got a recipe for trouble. On another note, Trevs charges £4.50 for a Guinness. Absolutely ridiculous for a college bar, do better.

8. Collingwood

My return to my first year abode and home away from home was greeted by a sophisticated and put together Paint n’ Sip in the Stag’s Head, neatly contrasting the depravity and degeneracy of the bar crawl. Served by my football social sec, I can only hope that at this stage I was comprehensible and not irritating or else I may live to regret it on Wednesday. With the seal being broken for many drinkers, it was now that the run penalties started coming heavily into play.

9. Grey

Chun o’clock came a calling at Grey for some as we decided to contest the claim Grey by name, Grey by nature by engaging in some (slow) pint chopping fun. Drinks were spilt and G’s were split as we took in some more Dutch courage to celebrate being over halfway through the bar crawl before the clock had even struck 9. Huge.

10. Mary’s

Finding ourselves needing a Mary’s campus card to access the bar on a Monday, I approached two poor freshers begging them to go to their rooms and retrieve a campus card so I could have another pint. Shocking. I did indeed get it quite wrong. Unfortunately, this sight was not even comparable to the state of Prebends Bridge on Tuesday morning after my feeble attempt at the Mary’s mile led to a heavy chun and a broken egg. I’m sorry, Prebends.

11. Cuth’s

I would love to provide a better description of Cuth’s bar but most of my time was spent removing any remaining egg from my pocket and regretting my decisions. After the highest run scorer dusted off a castle, the game of pub cricket looked all but over for me due to the frankly silly amount of run penalties which I had incurred by this stage.

12. John’s

This is where it started to really, really go wrong. Not discouraged by the fact that I had a mere 29 runs to the leader’s 92, I psyched myself up for a castle, reportedly by this point a total nuisance to anyone in my vicinity. At a disturbingly slow pace, it did indeed go but may or may not have came straight back up as I overlooked the River Wear from Johns’ beautiful beer garden. Poetic, almost.

13. Chad’s

Any aspect of run scoring had completely disappeared by this stage as I was too inebriated to even remember the name of the college I was in, let alone whether or not someone had committed a buffalo. What happened in Chad’s stays in Chad’s because I literally do not remember drinking there, regardless of whatever the £3.20 expenditure on my Lloyd’s Bank app says. Boy math.

14. Castle

Having lost my ID by this point (if you’ve not already seen on Overheard) and with time catching up on us, both my liver and our prospects of finishing the bar crawl appeared pretty bleak. Reports claim that I slowly saw off a pint and two VK’s in Castle, but I would be none the wiser. By Castle, the bar crawl had completely disintegrated with many people going their separate ways as any form of structure went out the window.

15. Hatfield

Much to my displeasure, it turned out that Durham’s favourite airport lounge lookalike was open only to its own students for the evening. Perhaps I will have to repeat this bar crawl next term in order to truly complete it, I mean it would be rude not to.

16. Hild Bede

With my level of intoxication, I imagine that by this stage I had completely forgotten that Hild Bede even existed, so I hope you’ll forgive me for not making it there. However, one of my housemates on his way home decided to stop by for a solo pint at closing time, giving us a touch more credibility in our attempt to complete the ultimate Durham college bar crawl.

The aftermath

I have literally no idea how I got home. I was turned away by Mr. Allen’s, kicked out of Subway and probably not too far from an ASBO. Thankfully, all six of us ended up home safe and sound despite some issues with remembering the key code, not naming names. The hangover was undeniably worth the addition to my lore and legacy in completing the one thing you absolutely have to do before graduating from Durham.

Images via Jack Pelham and Hannah Coward

Related stories recommended by this author: