Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy

Places To Visit and Things To Do in County Durham

For a map of Durham City including the University Science Site see https://www.thisisdurham.com/visitor-information/maps-of-durham

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).

  • Theatre/Cinema

    Durham - Gala theatre and cinema, Odeon cinema; Newcastle - Theatre Royal, Empire multiscreen cinema, Tyneside cinema (arty films); 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 Tanfield railway (choo-choo); the Wensleydale railway (more choo choo!);

  • Hiking.
    • 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.

    • Weardale/Teesdale

      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.

    • North Yorkshire

      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) ...

  • Beaches.

    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.

  • Mountain biking.
    • Hamsterley Forest.

      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.

    • Hexhamshire Common

      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!

    • Yorkshire Dales

      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.

    • Lake District.

      Some classic rides. Fantastic scenery. Just try not to runover any walkers!