United Kingdom
Durham

Here you’ll find travel reports about Durham. Discover travel destinations in the United Kingdom of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

31 travelers at this place:

  • Day907

    Our Christmas break. Goodbye Poppy

    December 20, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 5 °C

    We spent a total of 8 weeks back in the UK, docking at Dover on 31st October and travelling as far as Alnwick on the North East coast. The trip began well with a diagnosis for Vicky's poor health; premenstrual syndrome with severe secondary dysmenorrhea, probably due to adenomyosis. She has been referred for a procedure, but when this isn't likely to be until March.

    We had a roller coaster ride of quality time spent with family and friends, including 2 fireworks displays, 4 birthdays, a canal boat trip, 2 horse rides, walks, meals and drinks with loved ones. We got to watch Will's grandaughter's first ballet show and Christmas day was spent in the North East with our two brothers and sister in law. A HUGE thank you to everyone who made time to see us, took us in, fed us, gave us use of their drives, sewage drains, fresh water and washing machines and generally made us feel so welcome!

    Even with the best laid plans, not everything worked out as we would have liked. We missed seeing some people we'd planned to see and found we'd be unable to fit the roof mountable solar panel we'd bought for the van until temperatures rose above 18°C. We managed to get our passports renewed but only after a palava with the photos, similarly we managed to get Will's new prescription glasses but only after navigating cancellations and store closures. We had aimed to get the van bumper fixed on the insurance from when someone drove into us in July, but it turns out 2 months isn't long enough for SAGA's garage to get the part delivered! Thank goodness we got the MOT done and dusted! The sudden closure of our Doctor's surgery left us in a pickle and the cancellation of Will's surgery on his piles and polyp once he was in hospital and prepped, put a spanner in the works. We managed to have it rescheduled close to Christmas, but stitches coming out, tearing and infection meant two trips to A&E, one on Boxing Day and one on New Year's Eve.

    By the 30th of December we were ready for our ferry crossing to France and a little rest and relaxation. However, we were woken early by a very poorly Poppy dog. She had lost control of her back end, couldn't stand and was very distressed. Given that her health had been declining and she'd had two seizures within a month, earlier in our visit, we decided that enough was enough. We postponed the ferry and she recovered a little, but with her future quality of life in mind, we had the vet put her to sleep. They came out to the van where it was parked on Will's sister's drive on New Year's eve, so she encountered as little distress as possible in her last moments. We are glad to have been able to end her suffering, but are feeling very lost and sad without her. She's been part of who we are for more than 15 years and loved travelling as much as we do. Things just won't be the same without our stubborn, demanding, wilful, intelligent, beautiful and loving dog 😢
    Read more

  • Day4

    Night in the Dales

    July 11 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    After a day busy working we finally set off on our holiday! We were on our way to a nice sounding brewery that let's you park up for the night, but on our way we found a lovely little spot nestled in a small valley with a bubbling brook and couldn't help but stop.

  • Mar13

    Durham, England

    March 13 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌬 11 °C

    Durham was a wonderfully unexpected kickoff to my travels. This is where I began, admittedly not alone. I traveled to Durham with a friend, met two new friends, and came out of this visit inspired and excited to see where my travels would bring me. These new friends also introduced me to Find Penguins!

    Highlighted here are some of my favorite moments and discoveries from out around Durham, including a vintage shop. My friend and I love finding thrift shops in new towns and cities. I much prefer returning home with an old t-shirt or piece of jewelry from a local thrift shop than a brand new, probably over priced, run of the mill printed piece of apparel from a souvenir shop! You pay a fraction of the price, and often retain a better memory of the place you got it from because of its uniqueness!

    Our hosts brought us to one of their favorite restaurants, a Lebanese restaurant called "Lebaneat". They had been raving about the baba ganoush and with great reason! They both have several dietary restrictions but knew this was a place that they could find a delicious and accommodating meal. My friend and I eat everything under the sun, and we were equally blown away by the food. Truly a contender for top Lebanese food experience - and I've had many!

    We also found a gin bar called “Tin of Sardines”, named for their claim to be “Durham’s smallest bar”. And it was indeed! Just one tiny room, the “bar” part was arranged on one wall of the room, so there was in fact no bar at all, just a shelf where the bartender could concoct the drinks. There were benches built into the opposite wall, and a bathroom in the back. A fantastic use of a space and an interesting concept for a bar! Because of the space limitations, the bartenders are inevitably part of your conversation and experience. Not intrusively so, just enough to discover what kind of drink you like or are in the mood for and then NAIL IT. Sidenote: I’ve worked in cocktail bars as a server for four years now, and thus have developed an interest and appreciation for unique bar designs. I learned here that gin bars in the UK are typically identified by an extensive selection of gins, as well as tonics. I had no idea that so many different flavors and styles of tonic existed! In the US, I've pretty much written tonic off as a gin mixer, opting for soda water instead. Partially to do with the quinine content, but also because the taste doesn't appeal to me and tends to take away from the flavor of the gin. But this place re-opened my mind to the classic G&T. Definitely going to research what other tonic options we have at home, aside from the standard soda brands. This bar left us raving about our drinks (one of us slightly more passionately than the others...comparing her drink to a long lost love that she would be dreaming about for nights to come...).

    Other than those spots, we ate at a couple of different pubs, got fish and chips for takeaway, explored the shops in Market Hall, and just got lost in the tiny alleyways around town that serve as shortcuts from one street to another. This was fun because we almost never knew where we would end up! Great way to learn the layout of the town.

    Special thanks to our star tour guide, a remarkable 14 year old with a brain and creative spark like I’ve never seen before. We were so lucky to have her guidance, company, conversation, and adventurous spirit in this little castle town!
    Read more

  • Mar13

    Durham University

    March 13 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌬 10 °C

    Here are some pictures from our tour of the castle and cathedral, part of Durham University where our friend is currently doing her sociological research. It was all so beautiful, SO old, and just humbling. We got to imagine we were students at Hogwarts too - they filmed parts of the movies on the grounds here, and the architecture certainly maintained the same daunting feel!Read more

  • Day118

    Day 118: Durham Castle & Cathedral

    June 13, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Another day, another UNESCO site. Today we got out and on the road early again, heading eastwards to Durham. The castle and cathedral here for a single UNESCO heritage listing, mainly for their age and importance. The castle dates back to the Norman conquest, and was originally the bishop's palace. The bishop here was one of the most powerful in all of England, and was essentially a king in the north as he had powers of law-making, taxation and so on. Essentially as a subservient buffer kingdom against the Scots further north. The cathedral is from the same era, though it's a replacement for earlier buildings which have stood on the site since about the 6th century.

    We parked up in a shopping centre carpark and headed into town. Bought ourselves some tickets for a castle tour at 1:15pm (it's now part of the university and quite active as such, so access for non-students is tightly controlled), then set to filming the outside of the cathedral. It's nice, but there was a lot of scaffolding at the top doing repairs or restorations of some sort.

    Headed inside to discover no photos or videos are permitted! This really irritates me, since I don't really know why it's not allowed. I get that it's an active place of worship and people praying/reflecting probably don't want a bunch of cameras around, but it just seems silly that your beautiful building can't be shared with the world. Also a bit bummed since their library holds an original copy of Magna Carta, but wasn't on display for a few days because of some work in the room where it's held. Alas.

    Did our best to enjoy the rest of it, before heading back down into town for an early lunch. Went to a student pub where we both had a parmo (essentially a parmigiana). These are some sort of delicacy in the north-east! Back up the hill to the castle area where we joined our tour and headed in. Photos permitted in the courtyard this time, but again not inside the buildings. Though I guess there were quite a few students around, so I understand that a bit more.

    Although the castle itself dates from the Norman conquest, the main keep that looks spectacular is actually 1700s, as earlier buildings kept falling down! Even the oldest parts are only from the 1300s or so - the Norman parts remaining are just earthworks these days. Basically their original castles were built from wood, and definitely haven't stood the test of time. Still an interesting tour though!

    Back to the car where Schnitzel was quite happy to see us - he'd been cooped up in the underground carpark just sleeping for the last few hours. It sounds awful but we think he's much happier in his bed, under his blanket in the car. Rather than being in an unfamiliar room with strange sounds and smells.

    Drove back to our hut via Tesco for supplies, then gave Schnitzel a short walk and settled in for some work. Did a couple of videos and some writing, but also caught up on podcasts as I'd fallen chronically behind in listening! Amazing how much leisure time you don't have when you're retired.
    Read more

  • Day117

    Day 117: Studley Royal Park

    June 12, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Time to leave York and head into the north-east. We left our house a bit earlier than usual, at around 9am, and drove northwards towards our first stop, the UNESCO world heritage site at Studley Royal Park (actually pronounced stood-ly).

    This is actually a two-fold site, as it also incorporates the ruins of Fountains Abbey, and it's quite an interesting story albeit a slightly long one. The abbey was set up in the 1180s by Cistercian monks, who lived a primitive life but became very wealthy due to their talent (??) for sheep farming. They sold their wool as far away as Venice and Belgium, and at the time of the Reformation it was found to be England's wealthiest monastery.

    Obviously, due to the reforms everything now belonged to Henry VIII, so all the valuables were carted off and the monks evicted from Britain. The large, impressive monastery became a ruined shell, but in the Georgian era (late 18th century), Romanticists and nature-lovers began exploring the countryside again, and the ruins became quite an attraction. A disgraced politician owned the plot of land next door to the ruins, and so constructed an elaborate water garden for visitors to enjoy while maximising views of the site. So both halves are UNESCO listed.

    We spent a couple of hours wandering around each, though I must confess we were actually a bit disappointed. Although Fountains Abbey was impressive, it was probably less so than Tintern Abbey which we'd visited in Wales a couple of weeks earlier. And although Studley park was also quite nice, the water features at Blenheim Palace and Versailles were far more impressive. It was good to see the way landscaping had been done to maximise views over the fence, as it were.

    Done with the site, we hopped back in the car and drove northwards to our accommodation, a small shepherd's hut on a farm just outside the town of Consett, 25 minutes southwest of Newcastle. It was quite a small space, roughly the size of a caravan, but very modern and well equipped. Drove across the moor to a nearby pub for dinner, where we had great and hearty meals.
    Read more

  • Day12

    On the road again ....

    August 4, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Today we start our road trip around the UK. First challenge is to get the train to Kings Cross and then to Russell Square to pick up the car. The train station platform at Shepherds Bush is on top of a mountainous staircase. Mary said we would be alright. Well I had it planned, like crossing the New River Lagoon in Tassie's South West where you use two boats an cross several times - I had a system ready. When we reached the bottom of the stairs, people [well young men] grabbed our suitcases and carried them up the stairs. Luckily they didn't make off with them - just kind hearted.

    We got to Hertz and their computers were down. American tourists were waiting and getting crabby. Anyway, after almost an hour we were upgraded to a larger vehicle with a sat nav [I had already paid $100 for UK maps on my own Garmin]. Still it this bigger car will hold all our bags nicely.

    Mary & I were most worried about getting out of London [BTW we had to pay £11.50 congestion tax] through the traffic. As it turned out, the road beside Russell Square ends up on the M1 ... too easy. Our drive to Durham was going to be 4.5 hours but ended up near to 5.5 hours because of road works.

    I like driving on the big freeways - in some ways its like a waltz. Cars need to change lanes all the time to keep things moving. You just have to watch your rear view mirrors almost as much as you look forward. It was a good drive.

    Arrived at Marie and Bill's (our friends for 34 years) to be welcomed by a magnificent dinner and then we sat down to watch the Women's Soccer - unfortunately England lost. I did mention that Australia won their soccer competition in the USA?

    Tomorrow Mary will go hunting for Sea Glass ...

    Cheers
    Read more

  • Day13

    Finding Sea Glass

    August 5, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    After travelling for a couple of weeks, its time for a good long walk [not shopping], especially for Mary who is in the habit of a 10km walk almost every day. Today we went for a walk with Bill and a dog called Bow, a black Labrador - well behaved.

    We started at the beach - was a bit windy but not cold. As you walk along this beach you can find small pieces of tumbled glass [called, not surprisingly "Sea Glass"] that was orginally thrown from a glass factory that used to make the small medicine bottles. Mary is determined to find these little gems - so not much walking happened.

    We them drove to the cliff tops and walked through the fields. This would be an 8.5km walk. The views and the history made this a very pleasant and interesting walk. We dropped down to the beach at the end, under the viaduct that is still used by the speeding trains and onto another beach with sea glass. While we sat there a baby seal came up on the beach to sun him/herself.

    Friday night is pub night. Bill and I went out to the Hetton Lyons cricket club to watch the first soccer game of the year between his club Sunderland and Derby. Sunderland has been relegated to division two and expectations were low. However, they did play well and a draw of "one all" was a fitting and somewhat pleasing result. Bill and his drinking mates have this agreement - they have one "round" of drinks, in this case we had a shout of four, then you buy your own. So I had four pints of John Smith Ale while we watched the game. Not sure I understood every word spoken as the night went on, especially trying to understand their very strong geordie accent in the excitement of a football game - but they were lovely blokes and we had a lot of fun.

    After the game we went to the Tavern. A tiny pub, full of people and a karaoke machine/operator. I didn't sing - thank goodness. It gave me a fascinating view into the local lifestyle and community friendship built up over decades of knowing each other. Another couple of pints here and then Bill's wife came down to pick us up.

    A good day of exercise and pub culture. Tomorrow we go to York for the day.

    Cheers.
    Read more

  • Day15

    Real Pub - Real Ale

    August 7, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Having watched TV shows where people buy treasures at a market or car boot sale and then sell them at auction for a profit, we thought we would see what it was like. The Murton car boot sale had about 200 sellers in a large farm paddock and, judging by the car park about 2000 people looking for bargains. I was surprised at the old and worn out things that people were buying, traders were having a good day. Luckily, Mary only bought one thing, a small magnifying glass - happy me.

    Time for lunch and an afternoon drink or two at a local pub. We went to the Smiths Arms, a beaut little pub in a country laneway. They have Sunday roasts, Pork, Beef or Lamb with seven types of vegetables and Yorkshire pudding. A hearty meal indeed. This is where we caught up with Bill and Marie';s son Scott who was dog walking.

    We tried a couple of real ales, first a Mole Catcher then the Urban Fox. I liked the Urban Fox and so tasted a few more. You can't order half pints, people look down on you, so pint after pint it was. The bar also allowed dogs - so we had dogs all around us - Mary, though not fully comfortable, didn't mind so much.

    Home then for a night in, watching bit of TV, Mary even got to see the last episode of Poldark - happy days.

    Tomorrow we have a big drive up the east coast to near Aberdeen in Scotland. A good test of my driving and Mary's navigating.

    Cheers
    Read more

  • Day9

    Day 9

    August 31 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    I am rapidly going off the blog! I've already written this post, and it has disappeared again, so apologies if this comes across as less than enthusiastic.

    We managed to get up and out, and load the bikes by 8 this morning with the aim of catching the 9am ferry from Rothesay. We were a bit too early, and it was pouring with rain so we sheltered in the waiting room for half an hour or so, but were still pretty soggy by the time we boarded the ferry.

    Luckily it had just about stopped raining by the time we arrived on the mainland (or maybe it was only raining on Bute), but the road was regularly covered in water that we had to lift our legs as high as we could as we drove through to avoid getting boots full of water.

    We stopped for lunch (and to put on extra clothes - we had already had our heated grips on) at a fab farm shop/cafe and experienced our first Scottish breakfast, including haggis and potato cakes.

    We then decided to ignore the advice of Google and headed for the A75 despite it being closed. The detour was about 5 miles of stationary traffic through a small town full of traffic lights which would have easily added over an hour to our journey, but luckily as we were on bikes it didn't hold us up too long.

    We arrived at Lindsey's about 2:30 and after a lot of internal deliberation and contemplation I made the tough decision to ride all the way down the steep gravel track to the house. Jamie was ok, his bike is a lot lighter, has lighter luggage, and knobbly tyres, but mine is heavier with road tyres. I made it all the way down without dropping it once, though did have my feet on the ground most of the way.

    We had a short walk around the fields to the farm to visit Bella's sheep, then the rest of the day was mainly spent doing gymnastics tricks with Bella and taking photos of puppies.
    Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

County Durham, Durham, DUR

Join us:

FindPenguins for iOS FindPenguins for Android

Sign up now