When it comes to Durham, no one knows the county better than the people who live here. That's why we asked Durham's residents to share with us what they love about our amazing county, to uncover Durham's many hidden gems. 

Planning on getting outside and exploring Durham’s great outdoors during your visit? Follow the path less travelled and check out some of the special walking trails and cycling routes that locals love to explore. 

woodland floor covered in bluebell flowers

Bluebell Walk at Houghall Woods 

Every spring the woodland oasis of Great High Wood (also known as Houghall Woods) is transformed into a sea of blue, as the welcome sight of spring Bluebells blankets the woodland floor. Nestled on the outskirts of historic Durham City, Houghall Woods is a must-visit spot for dog-friendly walks and Instagrammable springtime shots, loved by locals and visitors alike.

You can explore Great High Wood as well as River Wear riverbanks on the Durham City South Walk – a 5 mile circular walk filled with some of the city’s most beautiful sights.

couple riding bikes in Durham Dales

Derwent Valley Walk 

You can take in stunning views across the Derwent Valley from the Derwent Walk. This is a popular walk with local dog walkers and bike riders, as the path follows the historic railway line between Consett and Swalwell.  

couple walking past Easington colliery old pit cage

Durham Heritage Coast - Coastal Footpath

According to locals, the best way to soak up everything the heritage coast has to offer is by following the coastal footpath. The 11-mile walking route stretches from Seaham to Crimdon, and follows the England Coast Path National Trail. You can take on the whole stretch in one day, or split up the sections, visiting different beauty spots along the coast, time and time again. You’ll see spectacular grasslands, magical coastal denes and uncover the rich heritage that has shaped the county’s coastline into the unique and fascinating place it is today.

insect artwork on display in the grounds of Durham University's Botanic Garden

Durham University Botanic Garden 

Open all year round, Durham University’s Botanic Garden is a magical place to visit. Soak up the stunning sights, sounds and smells of summer as plants and flowers from around the globe burst into life, soak up the beautiful bright colours as autumn transforms the gardens, or enjoy a refreshing winter wander.

Finchale Priory overlooking river wear in County Durham

Finchale Camino Inglés

Ever wanted to explore Spain’s Camino Inglés? Well did you know the origin of the famous pilgrimage trail is located right here in Durham? 

In the 12th century St Godrix began one of the first pilgrimages from England to Santiago from Finchale Priory. From the ruins of the once grand priory you can follow in his footsteps along the 21-mile route. Passing through historic Durham City and Durham Cathedral, to Escomb Church on the outskirts of Bishop Auckland. 

family sat admiring low force waterfall

High Force and Bowlees Geo Trail

Behold not one, but many of Durham’s most incredible natural wonders on this 5-mile circular route. On this wonderful trail you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding countryside and three spectacular waterfalls - High Force, Low Force, and Summerhill Force – hidden within Gibson’s Cave. 

blog squad member Melissa Jane Marshall at Bishop Auckland Viaduct

The Way of Life 

Many locals love following the Way of Life, which stretches from Durham City to Gainford in the south. Locals have nominated different sections of the route, including Tudhoe Village - via Spennymoor, through to Hagg Lane and Byers Green, or the stretch from Binchester following the River Wear down to Etherley Incline. 

This walking route is just one of the six Northern Saints Trails which criss-cross the North East region. Melissa Jane Marshall, one of our Blog Squad members, recently set out to explore the Way of Life. You can see what she discovered in her latest blog

group of people walking in the Durham Dales during winter time with snow on ground.

Waskerley Way Railway Path

This shared cycling and walking path follows the route of the old Stanhope and Tyne Railway line through the wild upper moorlands of the Durham Dales and Vale of Durham. 

The 10 mile route passes through varied landscapes, offering many amazing views along the full trail. Journey through heather moorlands, be amazed by the impressive 46 metre Hownsgill Viaduct, and don’t miss the Rowley Station Picnic Area, where this famous station once stood before it was dismantled and rebuilt at nearby Beamish Museum.

Other local recommendations include – 

  • Annfield Plain to Pontop Pike Walk 
  • Bike Ride from Upper Teesdale to Weardale 
  • Lydgate's Junction to Bear Park Cycle Path
  • Lanchester Valley Walk




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