How could we do a series talking about places to visit in the North East without mentioning Durham?! Easily one of the loveliest places in the North, Durham brings in a lot of tourism each year. Today I’m giving you the ultimate guide to making your way around Durham.
Things to do
Visit the historic Cathedral
Durham cathedral is the obvious choice so let’s get that out of the way first! Durham Cathedral is also known as The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham and home of the Shrine of St Cuthbert. This cathedral is a stunning must-see, the stained glass windows and gothic architecture alone make it worthwhile.
Fun fact: the cathedral was used as many parts of Hogwarts in the Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. In the cloisters of the cathedral, you will see where Harry flies Hedwig in the snow on his first year, and the spot where Ron vomits slugs in the Chamber of Secrets.
Take a Walk Around Hamsterley Forest
Hamsterley Forest is a commercial forest in County Durham operated by the Forestry Commission. It is the largest forest in County Durham and covers more than 2,000 hectares. Recreational activities are promoted within the forest and are focused at the eastern end, around the visitors centre. Escape the hustle and bustle of the everyday at County Durham’s largest forest.
From wildlife watching to stargazing, and adventure play for all the family to exhilarating mountain biking, there is something to keep everyone busy. If you fancy a peaceful wander through the trees, Hamsterley’s extensive network of trails and paths provides the perfect opportunity for you to explore the heart of the forest.
Learn Some Northern History at the Beamish Museum
Beamish, previously named 'Pit Hill’ is an open-air museum village in County Durham, telling the story of life in North East England during the 1820s all the way to the 1950s. As a history lover myself, Beamish has always been one of my favourite places to visit.
Walking around the town, taking a peep into old timey houses and stopping by the sweet shop and bakeries for a treat is something that most people, especially families, can enjoy. They often hold exciting events and activities, so be sure to check their website before planning a visit.
Hike Through Summerhill Force & Gibson's Cave
If you’re a fan of exhilarating hiking, walking, and nature trips, then Summerhill Force & Gibson’s Cave is the place for you. Located near Barnard Castle, the trail offers stunning scenic views and is good for all skill levels, even families. It really is the definition of natural beauty.
You can’t go to Durham without taking a lovely walk along the riverside and take in some beautiful Durham City riverside scenery. Follow the route in a perfect circle, make sure to take in all of your surroundings including all the amazing bridges, stop off for something to eat and, of course, take plenty of photos!
Places to eat/drink
If you’re looking for good food with a friendly atmosphere, Bill’s is the place to go. Bill’s started as a small family run restaurant in Sussex and now they have over 50 restaurants over the UK. They’re most popular for their breakfast, but they still have plenty to offer...they even have a fab selection of vegetarian and vegan options.
If afternoon tea is more your thing, we suggest Tealicious Tearoom - a relaxing atmosphere in which to enjoy the 24 individual blends of loose leaf tea served in a collection of unique fine bone china tea cups. Fresh homemade cakes, scones and sandwiches made to order, makes a visit to Tealicious Tearoom a truly unforgettable experience.
Where to stay
This 18th century inn stands in the picturesque village of Romaldkirk amidst the stunning scenery of Teesdale in the north Pennines. A warm welcome awaits in the charming bar with its stone flagged floors, open fires and snug ambiance.
The bedrooms combine period features with contemporary country-living design to provide comfortable and stylish accommodation and the food is prepared using top quality ingredients to reflect the surrounding area with dishes that walk the line between pub classics and fine dining elegance.
How to get there
By Car - Durham is served by excellent roads. The A1/A1(M) motorway provides fast, easy access from the South. From the North choose from the A1 coastal route or the A68 cross-country 'holiday route' through.
By Train – Durham is well-served by rail from London, covering the journey in around 3 hours. Fast through-trains run from most other parts of Britain.