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Best Durham City Outdoor Activities – Top 20 Things To Do Outside

Heading out to Durham and looking for some top-notch outdoor fun? You’re in luck! Here’s a quick guide to the 20 best Durham City outdoor activities where you can soak up the scenery and enjoy some fresh air. Whether you’re after a peaceful stroll or an adrenaline boost, Durham has it all. Let’s dive right in!

20 Things To Do Outside in Durham

Use the box below to quickly jump to your activity of choice.

Top 20 Durham City Outdoor Activities & Events

1. Riverside Walk

Riverside Walk

Ready for a stroll that combines city vibes with tranquil river scenes? Durham Riverside Walk is the perfect choice out of the many things to do in Durham on a sunny day! Located right in the heart of Durham, this easy-going 3-mile loop promises scenic views with a dash of urban charm, all wrapped up in about 1 to 1.5 hours of gentle walking.

Activities and Features

  • Scenic Views: Grab your camera for stunning shots of Durham’s historic skyline and the lush riverbank.
  • Wildlife Watching: Keep your eyes peeled for local birds and peaceful natural surroundings along the river.
  • Historical Sites: Stroll past significant spots like Elvet Methodist Church and other nearby historic buildings.
  • Family-Friendly: Perfect for a family day out, thanks to its flat and manageable path suitable for all ages.
  • Accessibility: Easily accessible from the city centre, making it ideal for a quick escape to nature.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Open all year, 24 hours a day.

Cost of Entry: Free! Enjoy the walk without spending a penny.

Location: Starts and ends in the heart of Durham, with several access points along the way.

Parking: Available at several nearby city centre car parks (charges may apply).

Facilities: While there are no facilities directly on the walk, amenities are available close by in the city centre.

For more info and bookings please visit: This is Durham

2. Durham University Botanic Garden

Durham University Botanic Garden

Looking for a peaceful escape with a dash of education? Durham University Botanic Garden is your spot. Nestled in 25 acres of mature woodlands on the southern outskirts of Durham city, this botanical haven offers a rich blend of exotic plants, art, and tranquil paths, perfect for an afternoon getaway or a focused study session on plant life.

Activities and Features

  • Exotic Plant Collections: Wander through various climates in the glasshouses—from tropical rainforests to arid deserts.
  • Sculpture Trail: Discover art pieces creatively positioned throughout the garden, adding an artistic touch to the natural landscape.
  • Educational Programs: Engage with the garden’s educational offerings that highlight conservation and biodiversity.
  • Seasonal Events: Enjoy a range of events like the MG Car Display and Teddy Bear’s Picnic, perfect for all ages.
  • Woodland Walks: Take a leisurely stroll through native British woodlands right in the heart of the garden.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM during the summer months, with slightly shorter hours in winter.

Cost of Entry: Adults £4.00, Children (under 5) free, Family tickets available.

Location: Hollingside Lane, South Road, Durham, DH1 3TN.

Parking: Limited on-site parking available; additional parking near the garden’s entrance.

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible paths and facilities ensure everyone can enjoy the garden.

For more info and bookings please visit: Durham University Botanic Garden

3. Adventure Valley

Adventure Valley

Looking for a day packed with fun for the whole family? Head over to Adventure Valley in Durham, where excitement meets adventure across six huge play zones. From farmyard encounters with friendly animals to adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities, there’s something here to keep everyone from toddlers to teens (and even adults!) thoroughly entertained. Want more kids activities in Durham City? Check out our list of 21 Best Things to do in Durham for Families With Kids!

Activities and Features

  • Play Zones: Dive into six expansive play zones featuring everything from soft play for the little ones to challenging high ropes for the brave.
  • Animal Fun: Meet and greet a variety of animals in the farmyard area, including the world’s fastest tortoise!
  • Adventure Golf: Challenge the family to a round of adventure golf on a creatively designed course.
  • Indoor Activities: Rainy day? No problem! The indoor play areas ensure the fun never stops.
  • Seasonal Events: Enjoy themed events throughout the year, like the exciting DINO WEEK during May Half Term.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM, perfect for a full day of fun.

Cost of Entry: Tickets start at £9.95 for children and adults, with under 2s free. Family and season passes are available for even more adventure.

Location: Just a short drive from Durham city centre at Union Hall Farm, Brasside, Durham DH1 5SG.

Parking: Plenty of free on-site parking available, making it easy to visit.

Accessibility: Designed to be accessible for visitors of all abilities, ensuring everyone can join in the fun.

For more info and bookings please visit: Adventure Valley

4. Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

Step back in time at Beamish, The Living Museum of the North! Set in the beautiful countryside of Durham, this open-air museum offers a unique look at life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s, 1940s, and 1950s. From chatting with costumed folk to hopping on a vintage tram, every visit is like opening a new page in a history book.

Activities and Features

  • Interactive Period Towns: Experience life in meticulously recreated towns from the 1900s and 1950s, complete with shops, schools, and homes.
  • Historic Transport: Ride authentic period trams and buses that circle the extensive grounds.
  • Live Demonstrations: Watch and participate in traditional crafts and trades from different historical periods.
  • Farm and Pit Village: Get a feel for rural and mining life with hands-on activities and real animals.
  • Seasonal Events: Enjoy a packed calendar of events, from Christmas markets to historical re-enactments.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM during the main season (March to October).

Cost of Entry: Tickets are £19.50 for adults and £14.50 for children, with family tickets available. Pay once, visit all year.

Location: Located at Beamish, County Durham, DH9 0RG.

Parking: Free parking available on-site, with ample spaces for cars and coaches.

Accessibility: Most areas are wheelchair accessible, with accessible transport options and facilities on-site.

For more info and bookings please visit: Beamish Museum

5. The Durham Treasure Trail

The Durham Treasure Trail

Looking for a fun way to explore Durham? The Durham Treasure Trail turns a regular walk around the city into an exciting treasure hunt! With clues scattered across historical landmarks and hidden gems, this trail is perfect for anyone who loves a bit of mystery and a dash of adventure. This is one of the most enjoyable Durham City outdoor activities to do with children.

Activities and Features

  • Self-Guided Tour: Explore at your own pace with a treasure map in hand, solving clues and discovering Durham’s secrets.
  • Interactive Clues: Suitable for all ages, the clues are fun, challenging, and educational, perfect for family bonding or team outings.
  • Diverse Themes: Choose from treasure hunts, spy missions, or detective mysteries—each offering a different storyline and set of challenges.
  • City-Wide Exploration: Cover significant sites around Durham, including the historic market place and riverside views.
  • Prize Draw Opportunity: Complete the trail and submit your answer online for a chance to win a cash prize.

Practical Information

Availability: Trails are available to do any day at any time that suits you; just download or order your trail booklet and get going!

Cost of Entry: £9.99 per trail guide, which is ideal for a group of 4-5 people.

Starting Point: Typically starts at Durham Market Place, easy to locate and begin.

Duration: Generally takes around 2 hours to complete, covering about 2 miles.

Accessibility: The route is mostly accessible, though some older parts of the city may have uneven surfaces.

For more info and bookings please visit: Treasure Trails

6. Prince Bishop River Cruise

Prince Bishop River Cruise

Looking for a unique way to see Durham? Hop aboard the Prince Bishop River Cruise for a relaxing journey along the River Wear. This scenic tour offers unparalleled views of Durham’s historic architecture, including the majestic Durham Cathedral and the ancient Durham Castle, all from the comfort of a river cruiser.

Activities and Features

  • Scenic Routes: Enjoy a 60-minute cruise featuring stunning views of Durham’s historic city centre, Cathedral, Castle, and bridges.
  • Informative Commentary: Learn about Durham’s rich history through live or recorded commentary as you glide along the river.
  • All-Weather Cruising: The cruiser has both an open deck for sunny days and a covered area for when the weather is less cooperative.
  • Special Themed Cruises: Look out for themed and seasonal cruises, including evening tours that offer a different perspective of the city’s lights.
  • Accessibility: Facilities are designed to be accessible, ensuring everyone can enjoy the experience.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Cruises run from April through October, with daily departures typically every hour from 11 AM to 5 PM.

Cost of Entry: Adult tickets are £10, children (aged 5-15) are £5, and there’s a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) for £25. Children under 5 cruise for free.

Location: Departs from The Boathouse, Elvet Bridge, Durham City, County Durham, DH1 3AF.

Parking: Available at nearby city centre car parks (charges apply).

Booking: Advance booking isn’t necessary, but you can check availability or book private cruises in advance for groups or special occasions.

For more info and bookings please visit: Prince Bishop River Cruise

7. Wharton Park

Wharton Park

Wharton Park in Durham is your go-to spot for a delightful day out with fantastic views over the historic city and its iconic cathedral. Whether you’re after a place to let the kids run wild or a quiet spot to enjoy a picnic, this park has it all, topped off with art installations and a modern playground. With kids in tow, this free, fun and well-designed park is one of the best things to do outside in Durham.

Activities and Features

  • Playground: A modern play area designed to entertain children of all ages.
  • Art Installations: Explore various sculptures and installations that add an artistic flair to the green space.
  • Scenic Views: Enjoy panoramic views of Durham City and the cathedral—perfect for photographers.
  • Miniature Car Track: Great fun for the little ones with pedal cars available.
  • Café: On-site café to refuel and relax with a range of snacks and drinks.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Open daily from 7:30 AM to dusk, year-round.

Cost of Entry: Free entry to the park, making it an affordable day out for everyone.

Location: Wharton Park, Framwelgate Peth, Durham, DH1 4SJ.

Parking: Pay and display parking available on-site with accessible spaces.

Accessibility: The park is well-suited for wheelchairs and pushchairs with plenty of accessible paths.

For more info and to plan your visit, head to the Wharton Park Official Website.

8. Ushaw Historic House, Chapels & Gardens

Ushaw Historic House, Chapels & Gardens

Tucked away just a short drive from Durham city centre, Ushaw Historic House, Chapels & Gardens offers a stunning escape into a world of historical elegance and natural beauty. This enchanting estate not only showcases impressive architecture and sprawling gardens but also serves as a vibrant cultural hub with an array of exhibitions, performances, and events that cater to all ages and interests.

Activities and Features

  • Architectural Tours: Explore the rich architectural heritage of Ushaw, from its historic chapels to its intricately designed rooms.
  • Art Exhibitions: Regularly changing exhibitions showcase everything from religious artifacts to contemporary art.
  • Musical Performances and Theater Productions: Experience a diverse program of live performances set against the backdrop of Ushaw’s dramatic interiors and gardens. These are often some of the spectacular Durham outdoor events of the year!
  • Educational Workshops: Participate in workshops and lectures that delve into the history, art, and culture of Ushaw and the wider Durham area.
  • Gardens and Grounds: Wander through beautifully landscaped gardens, perfect for relaxation or a family picnic.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Open to the public most days from 10 AM to 4 PM, but check the website for specific event times and seasonal changes.

Cost of Entry: Various pricing options available, including membership for unlimited visits. General admission fees apply for some events and exhibitions.

Location: Ushaw Historic House, Chapels & Gardens, Woodland Road, Ushaw Moor, Durham, DH7 7DW.

Parking: Ample free parking available on-site for visitors.

Accessibility: Most areas are accessible, with facilities available to accommodate guests with disabilities.

For more info and bookings please visit: Ushaw Historic House, Chapels & Gardens

9. Finchale Priory

Finchale Priory

Looking for a slice of tranquility with a side of history? Finchale Priory in Durham is your spot. Nestled by the river, this picturesque ruin of a 13th-century priory offers a peaceful escape with a rich history tied to Durham Cathedral monks. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or just in need of some peace, Finchale Priory is worth a visit.

Activities and Features

  • Historical Exploration: Wander through the ruins of the priory, soaking in the medieval architecture and spiritual history.
  • Riverside Walks: Enjoy scenic walks along the river, perfect for relaxation or a leisurely picnic.
  • Photography Hotspot: Capture the stunning views of the priory against the backdrop of lush greenery and flowing water.
  • Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for local wildlife, adding a touch of nature watching to your historical tour.
  • Dog-Friendly Paths: Bring your furry friend along for a day out in this welcoming environment.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Open daily, 10 AM to 5 PM from April to October, and 10 AM to 4 PM from October to March.

Cost of Entry: Free admission, making it a fantastic and affordable day out.

Location: Finchale Priory, Finchale Abbey Farm, Durham, DH1 5SH.

Parking: Charged parking available on site; not managed by English Heritage.

Accessibility: The site has uneven terrain and can become muddy, so wear suitable footwear and be prepared for a bit of a trek.

For more info and bookings please visit: English Heritage – Finchale Priory

10. Wear Canoes

Wear Canoes

Looking for a splash of adventure right in the heart of Durham? Wear Canoes offers just that! Situated on the scenic River Wear, this spot is perfect for beginners and seasoned paddlers alike to explore Durham’s waterways. Whether you’re planning a family outing or a solo adventure, paddling down the river provides a unique view of the city’s historic sites and beautiful landscapes.

Activities and Features

  • Canoe and Kayak Rentals: Choose from a variety of canoes and kayaks for your river adventure.
  • Family-Friendly: Safe for children aged 6 and up, with all minors requiring an accompanying adult.
  • Guided Tours: Opt for a guided tour to learn more about the river and its surroundings from knowledgeable staff.
  • Flexible Rental Options: From a quick 30-minute paddle to a full day on the water, tailor your visit to your schedule.
  • Group Activities: Perfect for group outings, team-building events, or school trips.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Seasonally open from 10 AM to 5 PM; always check in advance for availability.

Cost of Entry: Starts at £15.00 for 30 minutes of canoe hire, with longer rentals and group rates available.

Location: Baths Bridge, Durham, County Durham, DH1 3DA, England.

Parking: Limited parking available nearby; consider city centre parking options.

Contact Information: Phone +44 7792 902214 for bookings and inquiries.

For more info and bookings please visit: Wear Canoes

11. East Grange Farm

East Grange Farm

Fancy a day surrounded by the beauty of nature? East Grange Farm in Durham is the place to be. Whether it’s wandering through a sea of sunflowers in the summer or picking the perfect pumpkin in autumn, this family-run farm offers a delightful escape into the countryside with plenty of photo ops and fresh air.

Activities and Features

  • Pick-Your-Own Sunflowers: Stroll through fields with over 2.5 million sunflowers—perfect for a sunny day outing.
  • Pumpkin Patch: Explore the vast pumpkin fields in October, with 70,000 pumpkins and 17 different varieties to choose from.
  • Photography Heaven: Ideal settings for both amateur and professional photographers looking to capture the essence of Durham’s rural beauty.
  • Seasonal Events: Enjoy themed events like woodfired pizza nights with live music during the sunflower season.
  • Wildlife Conservation: The farm leaves sunflower heads post-season to feed local birds, emphasizing their commitment to environmental stewardship.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Varies by season; typically open from 10 AM to 6 PM during active months (sunflower and pumpkin seasons).

Cost of Entry: Entry fees apply during sunflower and pumpkin seasons, often redeemable against purchases (e.g., £5 entry fee redeemable against pumpkins).

Location: East Grange Farm, High Shincliffe, Durham, DH1 2TB.

Parking: Available on-site; during peak events, follow signs for additional parking instructions.

Accessibility: Mostly accessible, but some areas may be challenging for wheelchairs due to natural terrain.

For more info and bookings please visit: East Grange Farm

12. Crook Hall Gardens

Crook Hall Gardens

Tucked away just a stone’s throw from Durham’s bustling city centre, Crook Hall and Gardens offers a tranquil escape into a world of medieval charm and lush greenery. This hidden gem features a Grade I listed medieval hall surrounded by a series of idyllic gardens, each with its own character. It’s the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll, a dose of history, or a quiet afternoon tea. This is one of the outdoor activities in Durham where you can almost literally step back in time!

Activities and Features

  • Diverse Gardens: Explore the maze of themed gardens, including the Shakespeare Garden, the Walled Garden, and the Secret Garden, each offering a unique aesthetic and atmosphere.
  • Historic Hall: Step back in time with a visit to the medieval Crook Hall, full of character and historical tales.
  • Café Delights: Enjoy homemade cakes and a hot cup of tea at the Garden Gate Café, nestled within the gardens.
  • Photography Opportunities: Bring your camera to capture the stunning floral displays and the architectural beauty of the medieval hall.
  • Events and Weddings: The perfect backdrop for special events, Crook Hall hosts everything from weddings to corporate gatherings in a picturesque setting.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Open to the public on specific days; check their website for the most current opening hours.

Cost of Entry: Entrance fees apply; National Trust members may enjoy free or discounted admission.

Location: Frankland Lane, Sidegate, Durham, DH1 5SZ.

Parking: Limited on-site parking available; additional parking can be found in the city centre.

Accessibility: Most gardens are accessible, but some areas may be challenging due to historic paving and steps.

For more info and bookings please visit: Crook Hall and Gardens

13. The Half Moon Beer Garden

The Half Moon Beer Garden

Step into The Half Moon Beer Garden in Durham and you’re in for a laid-back, no-frills pub experience that’s all about good drinks, great company, and live sports. Located conveniently in Durham’s bustling city centre, this spot is perfect for a casual hangout after work or catching the big game with friends over the weekend.

Activities and Features

  • Live Sports: Big screens showcasing major sports events, ensuring you don’t miss any of the action.
  • Extensive Drink Selection: A well-stocked bar with a variety of beers, ales, spirits, and non-alcoholic options.
  • Outdoor Seating: Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the beer garden, perfect for sunny days.
  • Vibrant Atmosphere: Known for its friendly vibe and regular patrons, making it a great spot to meet new people or unwind with old friends.
  • Event Nights: Regularly hosts themed nights and special events, adding an extra layer of fun to your regular pub visit.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Open daily from 11:00 AM to midnight, allowing for flexible visits.

Cost of Entry: No entry fee; prices for drinks are competitive with local standards.

Location: 86 New Elvet, Durham, DH1 3AQ, easily accessible in the city centre.

Parking: Limited street parking available; public transport or walking is recommended.

Accessibility: Welcoming environment with easy access for all guests.

For more info and bookings please visit: The Half Moon Inn

14. Diggerland Durham

Diggerland Durham

Looking for a day out that’s a bit different from the usual? Head over to Diggerland Durham, where you can jump into the driver’s seat of real diggers, dumpers, and other construction machinery. It’s not your typical theme park; it’s a hands-on haven with tons of earth-moving action that’s sure to thrill kids and adults alike. Without doubt, this is one of the more unusual Durham City outdoor activities but it’s a fabulous day out!

Activities and Features

  • Real Construction Machinery: Operate real diggers, dumpers, and other construction equipment in a safe, controlled environment.
  • Rides and Drives: From the Spindizzy to the Mini Tractors and the Groundshuttle, enjoy a variety of rides that incorporate real construction machinery.
  • Indoor Play Area: A spacious indoor play area with climbing structures and slides, perfect for letting kids blow off some steam.
  • Go-Karts and Dodgems: Zip around in go-karts or bump around in dodgems for some classic amusement park fun.
  • Special Events: Regularly hosted events add extra layers of fun and excitement to the Diggerland experience.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Varies seasonally; typically open from 10 AM to 4 PM. Check the website for specific dates.

Cost of Entry: Ticket prices vary; generally around £19.95 for individuals over 90cm in height, with discounts available online.

Location: Langley Park, Durham, DH7 9TT.

Parking: Free on-site parking available, including designated spaces for coaches.

Accessibility: Most attractions and facilities are designed to be accessible for all guests.

For more info and bookings please visit: Diggerland Durham

15. Golf at Ramside Hall

Golf at Ramside Hall

Looking for a top-notch golfing experience in Durham? Swing by Ramside Hall, home to not one, but two 18-hole championship golf courses—The Prince Bishops’ and The Cathedral. Set against the backdrop of stunning Durham countryside with the iconic Cathedral in view, it’s a golfer’s paradise combining challenge and beauty in equal measure. Whether you’re polishing your skills or just having a relaxing day out, Ramside Hall caters to all levels of play.

Activities and Features

  • Two Championship Courses: Tackle the varied landscapes and strategic challenges of The Prince Bishops’ and The Cathedral courses.
  • Toptracer Driving Range: Practice your swing with the latest technology that offers instant shot replays and virtual game features.
  • Golf Academy & Tuition: Improve your game with professional coaching available for players of all skill levels.
  • Pro Shop: Stock up on the latest gear and apparel from leading golf brands.
  • Clubhouse Amenities: Unwind after your round with excellent dining options and relax in the sauna or steam room.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Golf courses and driving range generally open from dawn till dusk. Check specific times as they can vary by season.

Cost of Entry: Green fees vary; typically around £45 for 18 holes. Various membership options are also available.

Location: Ramside Hall, Carrville, Durham, DH1 1TD.

Parking: Ample free parking available on-site for golfers and visitors.

Booking: Advanced booking for tee times and lessons recommended, available through the golf reception or online.

For more info and bookings please visit: Golf at Ramside Hall

16. Aykley Heads Nature Reserve

Aykley Heads Nature Reserve

Looking for a peaceful getaway right in the heart of Durham? Aykley Heads Nature Reserve is your perfect spot and one of the most relaxing things to do outside in Durham. Nestled just a short drive from Durham city centre, this young woodland area planted in 2005 offers a tranquil escape with stunning natural beauty. With its well-maintained paths, you can enjoy leisurely walks or more vigorous hikes, all while soaking in views of Durham Cathedral in the distance. Best of all, it is completely free! For more free attractions in Durham, check out our guide to 22 Free Things to do in Durham!

Activities and Features

  • Walking and Hiking Trails: Well-maintained paths suitable for all levels, offering a variety of scenic routes.
  • Wildlife Watching: Ideal for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts keen to spot local wildlife.
  • Photography Opportunities: Capture the stunning landscapes and historic views of Durham Cathedral.
  • Picnicking: Several serene spots perfect for a family picnic.
  • Educational Experience: Learn about local flora and fauna through informative signage and possibly guided tours.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Open year-round, accessible during daylight hours.

Cost of Entry: Free, making it a budget-friendly option for everyone.

Location: Near Durham city centre, easily accessible via New Elvet and Old Elvet streets.

Parking: Limited on-site parking; additional parking available in nearby city centres.

Accessibility: Mostly accessible with some natural terrain that may be challenging for wheelchairs.

For more info and to plan your visit, check out the details on the Woodland Trust website.

17. Durham City South Walk

Durham City South Walk

Fancy a scenic stroll that takes you through the heart of Durham’s vibrant history and stunning landscapes? The Durham City South Walk is your ticket to an engaging journey on foot, starting from the bustling Gala Theatre right in Millennium Place. Spanning about 8 kilometers (5 miles), this moderate walk offers a mix of urban sights and tranquil paths, making it a favorite among locals and tourists alike who want to experience Durham from a unique perspective. If walking is your thing, then check out our comprehensive guide to Walks in Durham.

Activities and Features

  • Historic Landmarks: Pass by significant historical spots, including ancient churches and old market places.
  • River Views: Enjoy sections of the walk that offer beautiful views along the River Wear.
  • Varied Terrain: The route includes both paved city paths and softer country trails, suitable for a variety of walkers.
  • Photography Spots: Capture the stunning architecture and natural beauty that Durham has to offer along the way.
  • Accessible for Many: Although moderate, the walk is comfortable for those with a basic level of fitness.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Accessible at all times, but best enjoyed during daylight hours for safety and visibility.

Cost of Entry: Free to all walkers; no entry fee required.

Location: Starts at the Gala Theatre, Millennium Place, Durham, DH1 1WA.

Parking: Parking available at nearby city centre car parks (charges may apply).

Accessibility: Mostly flat and accessible, though some sections may require careful navigation.

For more info and to explore more walks in Durham, visit: This is Durham – Walks

18. Fishing at Finchale Abbey Park

Fishing at Finchale Abbey Park

Nestled in the picturesque loop of the River Wear, Finchale Abbey is an idyllic retreat for adults seeking a mix of historical intrigue and contemporary comfort. This family-run site has evolved from a humble dairy farm into a sought-after destination featuring a touring park, self-catering accommodations, and a full residential park home village—all set against the tranquil backdrop of the ancient Finchale Priory ruins.

Activities and Features

  • Touring Park: Enjoy a stay in the adult-only touring park with ample facilities for caravans, motorhomes, and tents.
  • Self-Catering Accommodation: Book a luxury stay in the renovated farmhouse or modern eco lodges for a comfortable getaway.
  • Historical Site Exploration: Delve into the history by visiting the nearby ruins of Finchale Priory, a 12th-century Benedictine monastery.
  • Fishing Opportunities: Cast a line in the serene waters of the River Wear that encircles the site.
  • Walking Trails: Explore a variety of scenic walking routes directly accessible from the site, perfect for nature lovers.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Open year-round, with specific opening times for the priory ruins and various facilities.

Cost of Entry: Free entry to the park, charges apply for accommodations and specific services.

Location: Finchale Abbey, Brasside, Durham DH1 5SH, UK.

Parking: Free on-site parking available for visitors and overnight guests.

Accessibility: Facilities are designed to be accessible, with specific accommodations available upon request.

For more info and bookings please visit: Finchale Abbey

19. Old Durham Gardens

Old Durham Gardens

Nestled less than a mile from the hustle and bustle of Durham city centre, Old Durham Gardens offers a serene escape into the past with its beautifully preserved landscapes and structures dating back over 350 years. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or just looking for a quiet place to relax, these charming gardens are a delightful spot to unwind and explore.

Activities and Features

  • Historic Landscapes: Stroll through elegantly maintained gardens that echo the splendor of centuries past.
  • Seasonal Events: Participate in various community-led events throughout the year aimed at enhancing the gardens and engaging visitors.
  • Photography Opportunities: Capture the picturesque views of the walled gardens and the verdant orchards, perfect for amateur and professional photographers alike.
  • Educational Visits: Learn about the garden’s rich history and ongoing conservation efforts led by the Friends of Old Durham Gardens.
  • Volunteer Opportunities: Get involved with gardening and maintenance projects that help keep the gardens flourishing.

Practical Information

Opening Times: The Lower Walled Garden and orchards are open to the public at all times. The Upper Walled Garden and Gazebo are open from 2 PM to 4 PM on Thursdays and Sundays from April to September.

Cost of Entry: Free, with donations gratefully accepted to support ongoing maintenance and restoration efforts.

Location: Accessible via a pleasant walk along the River Wear or through the University Sports Fields, located at DH1 2RY.

Parking: Limited; access by car is restricted to Bent House Lane from the A181 Sherburn Road. Consider using public transport or nearby city parking.

Accessibility: Main paths are well-maintained, though some areas may be less accessible due to natural terrain.

For more info and to learn about how you can contribute to the gardens’ upkeep, visit: Old Durham Gardens

20. Pelaw Wood Nature Reserve

Pelaw Wood Nature Reserve

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle is one of the most relaxing of Durham City outdoor activities. Pelaw Wood Nature Reserve offers a lush, green escape right in the city’s backyard. This ancient woodland, cherished by the local community and maintained by the dedicated Friends of Pelaw Wood, serves as a perfect spot for nature lovers, walkers, and anyone looking to step away from the urban bustle and into the tranquility of nature.

Activities and Features

  • Path Maintenance and Upgrades: Enjoy well-maintained and recently upgraded paths ideal for walking and exploring the woodland.
  • Diverse Flora and Fauna: The reserve is home to a variety of wildlife and plant species, making it a great spot for biodiversity enthusiasts.
  • Volunteer Opportunities: Join in on monthly work sessions to help maintain and improve the woodland’s natural beauty and functionality.
  • Educational Activities: Learn about local ecology and conservation efforts through organised group activities.
  • Community Events: Participate in special events and activities that foster a sense of community and connection to nature.

Practical Information

Opening Times: Open year-round, accessible during daylight hours.

Cost of Entry: Free, making it accessible to everyone.

Location: Located near Gilesgate, Durham, the nature reserve is easily reachable from the city centre.

Parking: Limited parking available nearby; public transport or biking to the reserve is encouraged.

Accessibility: The main paths are suitable for most visitors, including those with limited mobility.

For more info and to plan your visit, check out the Friends of Pelaw Wood website: Friends of Pelaw Wood


How long does it take to walk around the river in Durham?

Completing the Riverside walk in Durham typically takes about an hour to 90 minutes. This scenic route offers beautiful views of the cathedral and historic city.

Where are Durham’s best beer gardens?

Durham boasts several charming beer gardens, with popular choices including The Half Moon Inn, The Water House and The Victoria Inn, all offering a relaxing outdoor atmosphere.

How long do you need in Durham’s Botanic Gardens?

Plan to spend at least 1 to 2 hours at Durham’s Botanic Gardens. This allows ample time to explore the diverse plant collections and enjoy the peaceful settings.

Where to eat outside in Durham?

Outdoor dining in Durham can be enjoyed at places like Zen, which offers a beautiful terrace, and The Boat Club with riverside dining views.

What are the best picnic spots in Durham City?

Some of the best picnic spots in Durham City include the banks of the River Wear, the Durham University’s Botanic Gardens, and Wharton Park which offers great views of the city.

Where can you get lunch outside in Durham?

For outdoor lunch in Durham, try Fabio’s Bar for Italian meals in a cozy courtyard or Riverview Kitchen, which overlooks the River Wear.