Exploring the region – City, coast and countryside


Take a trip to ‘the Toon’

Just a short bus journey, or only 12 minutes on a train from Durham station and you can be in the heart of Newcastle City centre. As well as a great choice of shops, bars and restuarants, Newcastle offers cinemas, theatres, museums and galleries, as well as a lively music scene to enjoy.

Wander along the Quayside and enjoy the views of the city’s iconic bridges, Sage and Baltic Gallery. The traditional Quayside Market takes place every Sunday morning and with a myriad of cafes and pubs to chose from, it’s a great place to stop and people watch while soaking up the atmosphere.

Great Exhibition of the North 2018

Taking place across the entire summer, with events throughout the streets of Newcastle, the Great Exhibition of the North aims to introduce thousands of visitors and locals alike to the area, complete with live performances and displays, artwork, and experiences. There are three main arts trails to follow, allowing you to explore the city and all it has to offer.

Make the most of the beautiful weather with a wander around Jesmond Dene Park. With gorgeous routes to walk and the peaceful atmosphere to soak up, it’s the perfect place for an afternoon stroll with friends and family. If the summer heatwave breaks and it does begin to rain, there is no excuse not to enjoy exploring the Victoria Tunnel, deep under the streets of Newcastle City Centre. This Victorian tunnel system is available by guided tour only and is well worth the money.

Explore the countryside

If you have access to a car, there are loads of unique places to visit across County Durham, Weardale and even up into Northumberland, that are perfect for a day trip. Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve is just a few miles from Durham City centre, run by the Durham Wildlife Trust. There are three nature trails to enjoy, as well as a Visitor’s Centre and coffee shop.

Slightly further afield, Weardale is a favourite destination for runners, walkers, photographers, and cyclists. With miles of rural uplands available to walk across, trails that stretch as far as the eye can see, and an incomparable sense of isolation and quietude, Weardale is a haven of the outdoors just 35 minutes drive from Durham. Be warned, there is no phone signal up on the tops, and the roads are winding and challenging in places. If you’re feeling adventurous, the drive over the top of Weardale and out into Teesdale is spectacular, as is the drive from Stanhope up the infamous Crawleyside climb (if you’re a cyclist, you’ll understand!).

Enjoy a day at the beach

County Durham and Tyne and Wear are lucky enough to be home to some wonderful shorelines, from Seaham, to Seaburn and on to South Shields. You can explore rugged coastlines and beautiful sandy beaches, enjoying an ice-cream or traditional fish and chips, all along the coast of northeast England. Find out more about Seaham beach, in a previous blog from English Literature student Kleopatra.


Walk the Roman Wall

Heading north will take you into Northumberland, home to Hadrian’s Wall, the famous demarcation line between England and Scotland, which marked the furthermost outpost of the ancient Roman Empire. Spanning the country from East to West, it is home to many stunning landscapes, such as Sycamore Gap, near The Sill Youth Hostel up in Northumberland. It takes approximately 1 hour to drive from Durham City centre.

Kielder Water and Forest is quite a drive from Durham (about 90minutes), but if you’re an outdoor person, it would not disappoint if you are looking for the perfect break away from the city. It is situated amidst the gorgeous backdrop of the Northumberland National Park and boasts phenomenal hiking trails and days spent by the waterside. Nearby there is the border with Scotland, and the Chiltern Hills, both of which are also worth exploring.

Derwent Reservoir is not to be confused with the famous lake in Cumbria, but is equally as idyllic and accessible. There is a path around the water, with ample car parking and proximity to the cute village of Edmundbyers. Perfect to cycle around, walk along, or for a scenic run.

For more information on places to visit in and around Durham, check out blogs from other students and see what, and where, they recommend.

Happy exploring!

Laura Day

I am currently an MA student, reading English Literary Studies, and a member of University (Castle) College. I studied for my undergraduate BA in English Lit at St. John’s College, Cambridge. I am originally from the hills of Cumbria, and love trail running, hill walking, road cycling, and photography.

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