Durham: a city of courtyards, cobbled streets, Norman Cathedral and Castle.
You don’t have to visit the continent for a culture rush: the entire centre of this north-eastern city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s not hard to see why. Built on seven hills and protected by the River Wear, the town is full of history. William the Conqueror built Durham Castle in the 11th century in order to defend England from the Scots and the castle was never defeated in battle. Nowadays it is part of Durham University and is open to visitors for a fascinating tour.
The city’s Norman Cathedral, described by Bill Bryson as ‘the best cathedral on planet earth’, was the most important religious site in England, until the martyrdom of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury. It was the final resting place of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne and home to his shrine and is regarded as one of the finest Romanesque cathedrals in Europe.
Take a walk along the tree-lined banks of the river, wander the town’s medieval cobbled streets and enjoy its charming courtyards and stone bridges. Or take a relaxing river cruise along the Wear, or visit Crook House, with its four acres of beautiful gardens.
Durham is on the main road and rail routes to Edinburgh and there are frequent trains from London, with a journey time of less than three hours. Easy Jet flies to Newcastle from Bristol, Belfast and London Stansted airports. Durham is around a thirty minute drive away.