No trip to Durham is complete without taking in the views of the magnificent castle. To be honest it’s almost impossible to visit the city without doing so anyway as it stands proudly at the top of the hill, overlooking the medieval streets below. As well as functioning as one of Durham’s colleges, Durham Castle is also open to the general public but do check the opening times before visiting as the students make good use of the building during term time!
It’s regarded as the greatest Norman building in England and attracts over 600,000 visitors a year so I’m not alone when I say it’s one of my favourite things about Durham. Durham Cathedral together with the nearby castle became one of Britain’s first World Heritage Sites in 1986 and you can find a packed diary of events at both venues including art exhibitions and organ recitals.
From independent boutiques to big name stores and traditional market stalls, Durham city centre may be small in comparison to others nearby but it offers a unique shopping experience all of it’s own. Don’t miss the award winning indoor market for everything from fresh veg to handbags and if you’re a bargain hunter like me you’ll love nearby Dalton Park retail outlet in Murton. Just hop on the number 65 bus from the city centre!
Culture and Events
There is always something to do in Durham, from exhibitions to world class events. The local council and tourist board seem quite brave when it comes to entertaining their residents and visitors, their year round calendar of events throws up some surprises like Brainwave@NETPark; a free summer science festival. Last winter the Durham Lumiere wowed crowds of thousands and many are hoping it will make a return. For me though it’s the traditional events that draw me back to Durham time and time again, like the Miners Gala, the Durham Regatta and the Victorian Christmas markets. Oh, and I can’t fail to mention the cricket… the highlight of the season in 2013 will be the Ashes Test v Australia.
The Bowes Museum
On our way to the city centre Rosie and I called in to the Bowes Museum and I fell in love with this magnificent French style chateaux straight away. It’s in the picturesque market town of Barnard Castle and despite it’s size and grandeur, the Bowes Musuem is some what of a hidden gem. I only live about an hours drive away and I’d never heard of it! I discovered that Bowes Museum had been purpose built in the 19th Century by John and Joséphine Bowes to house their personal collection art, furniture and textiles from around the world. I suspect that Joséphine liked to shop as much as I do!