Like so many good things, the idea took shape in the queue for a kebab and cheesy chips at the Van of Life in Market Square. “It was one of those ‘Hold my beer’ moments,” says Christian Preece (St Catharine’s 2010). “A friend from athletics thrust his food into my hand – three or four minutes later he appeared on the top of a roof four or five storeys up.”
Preece didn’t know it, but this was to be his initiation into a secret club dating back more than 100 years – the night-climbers of Cambridge. Joining his friend on the roof – “up the guttering, across one roof and a leg up over a two-metre wall before arriving on the flat roof above Five Guys on Market Street” – the experience was exhilarating. “It was quite a strange kind of sensation; like looking down on a Lowry painting,” says Preece.
Of course, night-climbing is not the type of activity you sign up for during freshers’ week. Perhaps you might hear subtle whispers, or maybe you come across a dog-eared copy of a slim volume entitled The Night Climbers of Cambridge, apparently by a mysterious figure calling himself Whipplesnaith.
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