2 Days in Durham - Dreaming Spires, Turkish Delight and a Haul of Buried Treasure

Durham may not be your first choice for a short break in the UK, but it has a lot to offer.  A couple of days yielded dreaming spires, Turkish delight and best of all – a haul of sea glass.  Read on to discover more …

2 Days in Durham - Dreaming Spires, Turkish Delight and a Haul of Buried Treasure

Durham - A City of Dreaming Spires

Durham’s beautiful cathedral and castle create the city’s unmistakable dreaming spires skyline.  As a UNESCO World Heritage Site it has all the history you could wish to fill a short break in the UK with.  First and foremost though, these days, it is a University Town that derives vibrance and energy from its large student population.  

So, what better time to visit Durham than right at the start of the new University Year when you can experience all the buzz and atmosphere of the annual matriculation ceremony?

Be sure to book restaurants ahead though – they fill up quickly when the city has both new students and their parents to cope with.

Durham - Riverside and Woods Walk

Walking is always such a lovely way to discover a new place and Durham is no exception.  It is blessed with a beautiful circular walk alongside the River Wear which yields classic views of the dreaming spires of the Cathedral and the majestic Norman castle perched high on the wooded cliffs of the River.

Allow about 2 and a half hours for the 5 mile/8 kilometre walk.  If you want to stop at the prehistoric fort or the University Botanic Garden en route, you will need to allow longer.  So why not allow yourself a full day and fit in a tour of Durham Cathedral as well?

2 Days in Durham - Prebend's Bridge
Prebend's Bridge - Built 1772 - 1778

If you look closely at the image above of Prebend’s Bridge, you can see the parade of students – all dressed in their finery – taking part in Durham‘s annual Matriculation Ceremony.

2 Days in Durham - Riverside Walk
View of Durham Cathedral and Castle - at the end of the Riverside Walk

Exploring Durham's Heritage Coastline

The coastline of Durham is strewn with rocky headlands, wooded valleys and grasslands rich in wildlife .  If you had visited this coastline at the height of the mining industry, the beaches would have been blackened by the millions of tonnes of mine waste coal spoil and derelict mine apparatus dumped on them.

So alien was the landscape here in those days that scenes for the prison planet in “Alien 3” were filmed here on Blast Beach!

2 Days in Durham - Blast Beach - Alien Beach
Blast Beach - An Alien Beach

Easington Colliery – the last to be in operation – closed in 1993.  During the following decade, a partnership of 14 organisations came together  to form the “Turning the Tide” project to clean up the coastline.  The majority of the debris was removed and the forces of nature gradually carried away the rest on the tide.  Some vestiges remains though and there are notices advising you to stay away from the pools of ionised blood red coloured water that still scar the beach.

Thanks to the work of the project, the coastline these days is a beautiful place for a walk.

2 Days in Durham - Blast Beach
Durham Heritage Coastline - Blast Beach

Nature Reserve Walk - Nose’s Point to Hawthorn Hive

To experience some of the best parts of the coast, follow the stunning coastal walk along the cliff top at Nose’s Point to the secluded beach at Hawthorn Hive.

Nose’s Point – a convenient 1.5 miles outside Seaham – is easily reached by car from the A182 – Postcode for Sat Nav SR7 7PS.  There are 2 large, free car parks there.

The 3.4 mile circular walk follows the coastal path for the most part, but you can also explore the beautiful Hawthorn Dene Woodland en route.

2 Days in Durham - Nose's Point
Nose's Point - Nowhere Like it in Britain
Flora and Fauna

The clifftop stretching from Nose’s Point to Hawthorn Hive is now a wildlife conservation area, home to wildflowers, ground-nesting birds like skylarks and a wide range of rare insects including the Durham Brown Argus butterfly. 

Beachcombing for Buried Treasure on Blast Beach

From Nose’s Point, you get a great view of Blast Beach nestling under the clifftop.

Not far from the start of the coastal path, take the “Giant’s Path” down to Blast Beach for a spot of beach combing.  It is a steep walk down, but well worth the effort.

2 Days in Durham - Giant's Steps down to Blast Beach
Giant’s Steps down to Blast Beach

Once you are  on the beach, you can begin beach combing for fossils, pieces of pottery, Londonderry bricks and – best of all –  masses of stunning sea glass. 

2 Days in Durham - Londonderry Brick
Londonderry Brick

A Haul of Sea Glass

If you are interested in sea glass, read more about what it is, where and how to find it and what you can do with it on the next post.

Give it a Miss - Hawthorn Hive Beach

The walk down to secluded Hawthorn Hive Beach is extremely steep.  We decided to view it from above rather than walk all the way down – and back up again.  I don’t think we missed too much.

2 Days in Durham - Hawthorn Hive Beach
Hawthorn Hive Beach
2 Days in Durham - Hawthorn Hive Beach
Hawthorn Hive Beach - Rock Art

Dawdon's Fossil Tree

A key sight to spot on your way back to Nose’s Point is  Dawdon’s Fossil Tree – a fossilised tree trunk that dates back to the Carboniferous Period over 320 million years ago. The Discovered underground, beneath the old Dawdon Colliery, the trunk is now displayed on the clifftop in all its glory.

2 Days in Durham - Dawdon's Fossil Tree
Dawdon’s Fossil Tree

Foodie Firsts - Turkish Delight

Spending time away from home is always a good opportunity to try out different cuisines and there is a wide variety to chose from in the centre of Durham.

The Turkish Kitchen 56, Saddler Street in the Centre of Durham offers traditional mezzo plates (e.g. hummus and baba ghanoush) and a wide range of classic Turkish main courses on its extensive menu.  The desserts don’t disappoint either – try baklava or Turkish Delight, accompanied by a strong shot of Turkish coffee.  Delicious.

Restaurant 17 (17 Elvet Bridge)  also looked after us very well.  Highly recommended.

2 Days in Durham - Where we Stayed

For this trip, we chose to base ourselves in an Air B & B apartment.   The Bower’s Lodge situated a short walking distance from the City Centre.  It proved to be an economical and practical choice offering more flexibility than traditional hotel accommodation ever could.  Contact Steph direct on 07515817176 or info@thebowerslodge.com.

The apartment is also conveniently close to the Kingslodge Inn if you fancy a full English breakfast without the hassle of shopping, cooking and washing up.

Other hotel options nearby that I have heard are good – but haven’t tested them out myself – are:

40 Winks Guest House

or (if you want to splash some cash)

Seaham Hall Hotel & Spa

2 Days in Durham - The Bower's Lodge - Durham
The Bower's Lodge - Durham
2 Days in Durham - The Bower's Lodge - Lounge/Dining Area
The Bower's Lodge - Lounge/Dining Area
2 Days in Durham - The Bower's Lodge - Master Bedroom
The Bower's Lodge - Master Bedroom
2 Days in Durham - The Bower's Lodge -Bathroom
The Bower's Lodge -Bathroom

2 Days in Durham - Where to Find Sea Glass

Let's Walk the Coastline of Great Britain!

Coastal walking is my favourite sort of walking and if you follow Love to Wander, you will already know that I have set myself the task of walking the coastline of Great Britain – well all the nice parts at least – a chunk at a time.  Take a look at some of the other coastal walking trips we have enjoyed on this interactive map.  Click on the locations to discover detailed walking itineraries.

 If you want to watch the map continue to fill with coastal walks that might inspire you to lace up your own walking boots and take a wander along the beaches and cliffs of our beautiful coastline yourself, do sign up to receive regular updates.