This week I decided to make a trip to Durham and make the most of the last of the Christmas holidays. I’ve never been but knowing it was only an hours drive made it a good choice for a day out. There’s 3 park and ride stations on the main routes into the city and this is by far the easiest option rather than trying to find parking in town, and is only £2 for a day pass on all routes.
My first stop was the indoor markets off the main square. While most of the stalls were either food or tit-tat sellers, one really stood out- an exotic looking light shop, shown in the photo. In a dimly little market is really drew you in with the bright colours but also the pretty ways the lights were hung to make interesting patterns. I wish I had bought one now as this stall has stuck in my mind.
I then headed up the hill to the cathedral which was free to enter but under a fair bit of scaffolding so hard to take a good picture. Inside cameras and phones were banned but it was beautiful with huge patterned pillars, soaring ceilings and colourful stained glass windows. It also houses the tombs to St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede which was quite interesting.
The most interesting part of the cathedral however was the cloisters which were used in the Harry Potter films- I wish I had a cloak to swoosh around in but alas, as a mere muggle I could only look! The cathedral was used several times for interior and exterior shots of Hogwarts in the first two films in particular.
Across the green was Durham Castle. You have to book a guided tour as the only way to enter for £5 from the library and they do sell out fairly quickly- when I arrived at 11am I could only get onto the 1.15 tour. This is beacuse the castle is still used as university accommodation and they don’t want loads of tourists swarming around. We had a lovely guide called Caitlyn who was very entertaining and clearly knew her stuff and was worth the money to find out a little more about Durham’s history.
My final stop was the Palace Green Library next to the castle. It had 3 exhibitions on which to be honest I wouldn’t bother with, but at least they were free. The ‘Hearing Voices’ one was a little odd and the Northern Poets not really my cup of tea and pretty brief. The archaeology exhibition was better but pretty basic and aimed at kids (as as history graduate I am always as little snobby about these things!).
Although Durham is small, it is a lovely place for a day out and a stroll around with a few interesting things to do and plenty of nice cafes to warm you up on a cold January day!