Things to Do Outdoors in Durham

The city of Durham is a place that’s filled to overflowing with some amazing history. For instance, the area where the city is located has been inhabited and settled since about 2,000 BC. The city was founded in 995 AD by monks searching for a place to settle with the body of St. Cuthbert. And it only gets better from there!

There’s some confusion over the name of this place. You may hear it referred to as the “city” of Durham or the “county” of Durham. The reason is that the city is a cathedral city on the River Wear in County Durham. It’s also the administrative centre of the County Durham District (it used to be the County Palatine of Durham). So, we’re talking about the entire county in this article, not just the city. But no matter what, you’ll find some amazing things to do in these places!

While there’s plenty of history to experience and learn about in Durham, the city and county are also home to some fun outdoor activities. No matter where you are in Durham, there’s something to do, including rivers, open green spaces, trails, parks, and more. If you’re looking for adventure and fun stuff to do, you’ll find it here.

We’ve put together a list of great outdoor activities you can enjoy in Durham. Let’s get started!


1. East Durham Coast

Along the East Durham Coast, you’ll find a wide range of activities to enjoy! Let’s start off with Castle Eden Dene – The Yew Tree Walk. This is a lovely trail that’s about 2 miles long and takes about 1.5 to 2.5 hours to walk. One note—this trail is not suitable for pushchairs.

It’s best to wear sturdy footwear and keep an eye out for steep places. Avoid visiting during high winds! Disabled access is very limited here due to the natural features found along the trail.

From the car park at Oakerside Dene Lodge, you pass through the kissing gate and follow the path down the hill and around the bend to the left. At the foot of the hill, don’t cross the bridge! Instead, turn left along the broad path along the valley bottom.

Enjoy the woodland that’s filled with oak, yew trees, ash, and wych elms that grew after the last Ice Age. You’ll also see many skeletal trees here that are rotting on the woodland’s floor. These trees were decimated by Dutch Elm disease. However, these old trees are now homes for the area’s resident bats!

This is a walk for those who enjoy a little more adventure, with some very natural places and views.


2. Walking the Durham Heritage Coast

Another trail to enjoy is the Durham Coastal Footpath, which is an 11-mile walking route from Seaham to Crimdon, following the England Coast Path National Trail. Here, you’ll walk through amazing grasslands, have beautiful views of the coast and sea, and experience some of the unique sites found in Britain.

For instance, you’ll see the Magnesian Limestone Coastal Grasslands, where many wildflowers and insects thrive. Be sure to check out the orchids and listen to the song of the skylarks in the area!

The footpath is marked by waymarkers and finger posts that contain some interesting information and artwork along the way.


3. Hesleden Dene

Next on our list of outdoor activities to enjoy in Durham is Hesleden Dene. This is a small woodland that’s filled to overflowing with hazel stands. The reserve offers exceptional natural exposures of magnesian limestone that’s eroded to create stunning outcrops, with many fissures and caves.

The area’s damp, humid conditions provide niches for many types of mosses, lichens, and fungi. The Magnesian limestone grassland also supports plants that include devils-bit-scabious, the common spotted orchid, and twyblade.

Along with all the woodland life, you may also catch a glimpse of some of the wildlife in the area, including roe deer, fox, woodpeckers, tawny owls, and more.


4. Seaham Beach

Seaham Beach is known as “England’s Sea Glass Treasure Chest” for a good reason. This is one of the best places to find sea glass in the world! If you’re a sea glass collector, this is the place for you.

You can find larger pieces of glass here more than on other beaches. The most common colour is green; however, you can also find sea glass in these colours: yellow, blue, aqua, turquoise, red, and some mixed colours.

The glass comes from the largest glass bottle works in Britain, which was located at Seaham. The name of the company was the Londonderry Bottle Company, and they had six glasshouses in Seaham. At the end of the day, waste glass was dumped into the sea.

After tumbling in the water for years, the glass washes up on the beaches each day. Some of the glass is over a hundred years old and polished completely smooth.

Along with the sea glass, you can enjoy beautiful views of the sea as you walk along the beach. What a great adventure to see how much sea glass you can find as you take in the views!


5. Potter’s World

Potter’s World is an outdoor activity the entire family will love! The park is home to many exotic animals, three interactive educational spaces for kids to explore, and more. Be sure to check out Potter’s Tropical Village, Potter’s Owl Adventures, and Potter’s Play Tunnel!

Potter’s Tropical Village is a registered zoo—the only one in County Durham! The zoo features exotic free-flying birds, reptiles (they don’t fly!), invertebrates, amphibians, insects, and fish in a jungle-like setting. This is a captivating attraction with interactive spaces, hunt packs, fish feeding, animal encounters, and more!

Potter’s Owl Adventures is located within Potter’s World and is a place filled with amazing birds of prey. The birds in the prey aviaries give everyone a chance to see these amazing birds up close. There’s always something new to learn about here.

Finally, Potter’s Play Tunnel provides kids with another area to play and learn. This is an outdoor educational space that allows kids to explore the world around them. While your kids learn and explore, you can sit and relax. Have fun watching your kids learn new things as they play!


Summing It Up

As you can see, Durham has much to offer the entire family! When you’re looking for something to do and want to head outside, consider these and other activities and sites to visit in this lovely part of the world!

And if you happen to have a business and be looking for serviced office space, be sure to check out what we have to offer!

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