Guide To Holidaying In Durham
A guide by Hayley Harp
County Durham, in the heart of Northumbria, is an excellent place to use as a base whilst discovering the north's beautiful countryside.
The county's scenery varies from sandy beaches to rugged woodland and no visit would be complete without discovering it all. Hamsterley Forest, a 5,000-acre forest and one of the biggest in England, offers visitors the choice of gentle walks and wildlife watching or more demanding activities such as orienteering. In fact there are many wildlife reserves scattered around the county. Most are run by Durham Wildlife Trust and a visit is recommended to at least one during your stay.
If splashing waves are more you scene then the Heritage Coast with sandy beaches and 11 miles of coastal footpaths will be for you.
Of course, don't forget the Durham Dales. They host some amazing scenery, from waterfalls to meadows and some very special wildlife. As part of the North Pennines the Durham Dales are part of one of the country's largest Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The county town of Durham is dominated by the castle and cathedral. The castle, dating back to 1072 was originally built to protect the Bishop of Durham from attack following the Norman Conquest. Along with the cathedral, which has a great importance amongst Christians, the two make up a World Heritage Site.
Other towns and cities include Seaham, Stanley and Chester-le-street and Consett north of Durham city and Bishop Auckland, Sedgefield and Barnard Castle south of the city.
There's always something going on in the county whether it's rallies, agricultural shows, regattas or galas. The main event is in July with the Durham County Show.
Year round family attractions include Barnard Castle, Diggerland Adventure Park on the outskirts of Durham and the Otter Trust's North Pennines reserve just outside Barnard Castle in Bowes.
If you're travelling to the region by car the A1 provides easy access from both the north and the south. Journeys by rail or other public transport will usually head into Durham City but it is best to check details with the service provider. Once you arrive in the county there is a good network of local bus services that can take you around the region.
The main tourist information centres are in Durham City, Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland, Middleton in Teesdale, Peterlee and Stanhope.
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