City in the spotlight: Durham

09 Mar 2017
Sophie Willson Programme Officer

The beautiful city of Durham is set in the picturesque north east of England. It is a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO, as well as being home to the esteemed Durham University.

Local folklore states that the city was founded in A.D 995 by divine intervention and that spirituality has been present throughout the ages in Durham. The stunning Durham Cathedral was considered one of the most important religious sites in England during the medieval period and is the resting place of Saint Cuthbert, one of the most important saints of northern England.

Today you can get a sense of this by visiting the cathedral which is considered one of the best examples of Norman architecture in Britain.

Rowing in Durham

Despite being a thoroughly modern city much of Durham’s historical architecture remains. A fantastic example of this is the Palace Green where you can see Durham Castle. Built as the Northern population of England remained ‘wild and fickle’, it is now home to University College, Durham where it houses 100 students.

Shopping in Durham on Christmas Eve

Today’s Durham is home to one of the oldest universities in England, opened more than 600 years ago. The bustling and diverse student population makes Durham an exciting place to be. The city is home to 17,505 university students with 21% of these students from non-UK origins. The university also has a hand in some of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, including the Palace Green Library, the oriental museum, and the Botanic Garden. These attractions can be discovered by walking around the cobbled streets of Durham.

Further out of the city you can find Hamsterley Forest where you can walk, cycle, or horse ride your way round 2000 hectares of woodland and waterfalls.

Hamsterley Forest

Durham’s surrounding towns are just as picturesque. Do some shopping in the neighbouring market towns of Bishop Auckland and Chester-le-Street with their old English charm, or pay a visit to the Durham coast.

If you’re feeling adventurous you can hike the 14km coastal path, taking in the beautiful views of the North Sea and the picturesque harbour town of Seaham.

The city itself is well connected with direct trains running from London, Scotland, and the Midlands. From Durham you can get trains out to the coast or jump on one of the seasonal tourist buses that will whizz you out to the countryside.

More things to do in Durham can be found here.


© Bridleway in Hamsterley Forest - copyright Trevor Littlewood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
- Shopping in Durham on Christmas Eve - copyright Simon James and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
- Rowing boat and Durham Cathedral courtesy of - VisitEngland/Visit County Durham/Kevin Radcliffe.