Durham Riverside Walk
This splendid walk around Durham visits many of the city highlights including the River Wear, Durham Castle, the cathedral, Old Durham Gardens and the Durham Botanical Gardens. There's so much to see with wonderful architecture, historical sites, beautiful gardens and countryside views across the river.
The walk starts next to Durham Castle on the east bank of the River Wear. The Norman castle stands on top of a hill above the river on Durham's peninsula, opposite Durham Cathedral. It was originally built in the 11th century as a projection of the Norman kings' power in the north of England. It is now owned by the University College but the public can view the castle's wonderful architecture through guided tours.
The castle is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the nearby Durham Cathedral. It dates from the 11th century and includes fine Romanesque and Norman architecture. You can climb the 217ft (66m) high central tower for fantastic views over the city and surrounding area.
After exploring the castle and cathedral rejoin the riverside path and head south past the stone-arched Prebends Bridge. The path rounds the peninsula, passing close to several historic sites including university buildings, Durham Market Square, the Grade I listed Kingsgate Bridge and the mediaeval Elvet Bridge.
The trail then heads east, passing Pelaw Wood before leaving the river to visit Old Durham Gardens. The delightful gardens are on two levels and include orchards, a walled garden and a gazebo.
After exploring the gardens you return to the waterside path and continue to Shincliffe Bridge, where you cross the river and follow the Houghall Discovery trail through the woods to the Durham University Botanic Garden. Here you'll find exotic plants from all over the world including many from the far east. There's also glasshouses, an arboretum, an Alpine garden and a bamboo grove.
After strolling round the gardens you return to the riverside path and head back to the city centre along the Wear.
Much of this walk uses the Weardale Way long distance trail. You can extend your walking in the area by following the trail south towards Willington, while heading north will take you to Chester-le-Street.
There's also several nice trails to pick up just to the west of the city centre. The Brandon - Bishop Auckland Walk, the Lanchester Valley Walk and the Deerness Valley Way all follow disused railway lines through the countryside surrounding the city.