From the breathtaking Durham City peninsular and magnificent dales to the stunning coastline, Durham boasts beautiful and varied landscapes begging to be explored. 

Whether you’re looking for shorter family-friendly rambles, long dog walks or a more challenging multi-day route. To help inspire you we’ve picked six of the most beautiful walks and rides in Durham you can explore from your door this autumn or winter.

High Force Waterfall in County Durham during Autumn

Feel the Force

Take in the spectacular sights of Low and High Force waterfalls on this moderate five mile circular walk. 

Start at Bowlees Visitor Centre, where you can also discover Gibson’s Cave – home to local legend and Summerhill Force. Stride out across the Winch Bridge to join the Pennine Way National Trail. Follow the Riverside path beside the River Tees to the thunderous roar of High Force -  one of the most impressive waterfalls in England.

family sat watching Low Force Waterfall

This route is great for families, as you can choose to do it all in one day or split in two to enjoy different waterfalls and views on different days – perfect for those little legs. Along the way keep your eye out for important flora, rare birds and wonderful wildlife. 

drone shot of the Durham Heritage Coastline and North Sea

Heritage Coast Footpath

Walkers and cyclists alike can follow the coast’s contours by striking out along the 11 mile Heritage Coast Footpath. Stretching from Seaham in the North to Crimdon in the south, this coastal path takes in some of the county’s most spectacular scenery along the way.  

Unmissable spotting points include Nose’s Point Nature Reserve, Hawthron Dene - the county’s second largest dene and Easington Beach Banks with dramatic panoramic views across the North Sea. 

couple walking along the Durham Heritage Coast at Easington

At Castle Eden Dene you can experience ‘the wildwood’ that once covered much of Britain woodlands, Blackhall Rocks and Cross Gill Nature Reserve is a must-visit bird-watching spot, and the golden sands of Crimdon Beach. 

Durham City Peninsular

Historic City Views

The peninsula walk around historic Durham City is a pleasant and easy circular route along the banks of the River Wear in the heart of the city. 

There are lots of sights along the way to enjoy, from rowers and artwork, to ducks, herons and the magnificent view of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Durham Cathedral and Castle preached high above the ancient city below.  You might even be lucky to catch a glimpse of the river’s resident Otters.  

view of egglestone abbey on outskirts of Barnard Castle

Riverside Walk

The Barnard Castle and Abbey Bridge Circular is a short picturesque trail which takes you along the banks of the River Tees from the bustling market town and remains of Barnard Castle, through lanes and fields and past the ruins of ancient Egglestone Abbey – which makes for a great picnic spot. 

view of the countyside during autumn in Upper Teesdale in the Durham Dales

The Way of Light

The breath-taking Way of Light Trail transports you through remote landscapes as you follow in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims. Stretching from St Oswald’s Church and Hadrian’s Wall in the north to the mighty UNESCO World Heritage site of Durham Cathedral.

This ancient pilgrimage route passes by incredible historic sites and breathtaking landscapes including Hexham Abbey, picturesque Blanchland, Derwent Resevoir and UNESCO Global Geopark and Ushaw: Historic House, Chapels and Gardens.  

group of people walking through the north pennines in snow during winter

The Way of Light is just one of the six Northern Saints Trails you can explore across the region. Visit the Northern Saints Trails website to discover more about these fascinating walking trails. 

couple riding bikes through the durham dales

Waskerley Way Railway Path 

Passing from the outskirts of Consett to the wind-swept heather moorlands of the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark, Waskerley Way is a 16km shared cycling and walking route which follows the dismantled path of Durham’s historic railways.  

No matter what time of year you visit, walkers and cyclists will be treated to breathtaking views of Howensgill Viaduct, reservoirs, wild woodlands and miles of heather moorland, all teeming with wonderful wildlife, flowers and plants. 

Visit our dedicated outdoors page to view more of the county's incredible walking and cycling routes. 

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