Places To Visit and Things To Do in County Durham
For a map of Durham City including the University Science Site see http://www.thisisdurham.com/site/tourist-information-and-maps/city-and-county-maps/
Some suggestions for your leisure time when you're in Durham, as recommended by extragalactic astronomers! There's no particular order ...
Places to visit (a few ideas for an outing).
- Within easy reach of Durham:
The Cathedral (of course!) and Castle (part of the University); Durham University Botanic Gardens; Fulling Mill (University-run museum of local archaeology); Oriental Museum (UKs only dedicated museum of Oriental art and archaeology - University-run again); Crook Hall and gardens (Medieval haunted house!); Finchale Priory (ruins); Newcastle/Gateshead - the quayside, Sage (music) and Baltic (art), cruise the Tyne (yes really!), Metro Centre (shopping);
- Further Afield: (probably need a car for these)
Blanchland (Popular picturesque medieval village, nice walks); Escomb church (7th century); Wallington House (Walled Garden); Alnwick (Garden and Tree House, Castle); Rothbury (Cragside House - the first house in the world lit by electricity.) and Alnmouth (beach); Lindisfarne (Holy Island and castle); Whitby (this is where Dracula arrived); Robin Hood's Bay and Brunswick Bay; Pickering (ride the NYM steam railway); York; North York Moors; Reeth (Yorkshire Dales); The Lake District; For the more astronomically adventurous there is the public Kielder Observatory - we have some connections with them, so we might be able to arrange a personal visit if you are keen. The surrounding area (Kielder Water/Forest) is worth a look.
- Within easy reach of Durham:
Durham - Gala theatre and cinema; Newcastle - Theatre Royal, Empire multiscreen cinema, Tyneside cinema; Boldon multiscreen cinema (need a car);
Entertaining Children (big and small).
You will need a car for all these .... Washington Wetlands and Wildfowl centre (cute ducks, also the home of the Sunderland Astronomical Society); Hall Hill farm (cute farm animals); Spenymoor swimming pool (splash); Beamish Museum (a trip back in time); Killhope Lead Mining Museum (a very different view of the past); the Weardale Railway (choo-choo); the Tanfield railway (more choo-choo); the Wensleydale railway (yet more choo choo!);
The Lake District.
Its only 2 hours away, and is the best places for hiking in the UK. If you think its not challenging, wait for Autumn/Winter. Many, many classic walks for all tastes. -10 plus wind chill and even Grizedale Pike is a fight for survival! On the other hand, even the low level walks are amazingly rewarding: maybe even best in the summer. I'd avoid the South West and base myself in Keswick, Consiston or even Cockermouth: don't forget the hidden lake district in the far West. It helps to understand the history of the Picturesque.
There are lots of fantastic hikes in Weardale and Teesdale. At Stanhope you can hike through the dean, out onto the moors and back across the old forgotten quarries. At Middleton-in-Teesdale there are fantatic walks out onto the hills, full of flowers and relics of a forgotten past. In Weardale, use the newly revived steam railway to let you walk back from Stanhope along the ridge to Wolsingham's teashop. There are some good walks along the Tees at Barnard Castle.
The Cleveland Way. Beautiful views around the edge of the moors then a serene walk down the coast taking in Whitby (fishing port watched over by the old abbey), Robin Hoods Bay (peaceful beachy cliff-lined bay) ...
- The Lake District.
OK - you have to have luck with the weather, but when it is good head for the miles of golden sand. In the North head up to Alnmouth and beyond. Its well worth the extra distance. And there are lots of Castles too! Watch out for the Har - a fog that drifts in off the sea - its best to go when there's a westerly breeze. At the right time of year you can take a boat trip out to see the seals. In the South, head to Runswick Bay or even Whitby.
Durham's mountain biking centre. A big injection of cash means that the trails in the forest are getting a huge amount of work. The aim is to make it the best destination for mountain biking in the North of England. There's a place to rent bikes in the forest.
The blank bit between Blanchland and Allendale Town. Some of the best remote moorland single track. Boggy in the winter - super fast in the summer!
Try starting from Reeth. Big climbs and big drops. Superb trails across the moors and through the long abandoned mines and quarries. Set out in almost any direction and you'll have a challenging ride.
North York Moors
There's a huge area to choose from, but Guisborough makes a good starting point for a day's outing from Durham. Very different in character to the dales. Sort of softer, more rolling. Guisborough forest has a challenging black route. Further afield, Pickering makes a good base. There's a good set of single track trails in Dalby forest. Or you can take the train and the ride back.
Glentress and the 7 Staines.
Over the boarder. The definitive purpose built mountain bike routes. Newcasleton is closer but I've yet to try it out.
Some classic rides. Fantastic scenery. Just try not to runover any walkers!
- Hamsterley Forest.
Contact DetailsCentre for Extragalactic Astronomy,
Ogden Centre for Fundament Physics - West,
Department of Physics,
Durham DH1 3LE
Tel: 44 (0)191 3343635