Itinerary Planner

Turner Trail

Turner Trail

Durham’s beautiful landscapes and iconic buildings have proved an inspiration to several of England’s greatest landscape artists, none more so than JMW Turner. With the release of Mike Leigh’s film Mr Turner, why not follow in the great artist’s footsteps? He made several visits to the county and painted buildings such as Durham Cathedral and Raby Castle and natural wonders like High Force and the Meeting of the Waters.

Durham Cathedral
JMW Turner first visited Durham in 1791 on a tour of the north of England. He produced a series of paintings and sketches of Durham City portraying Durham Cathedral from both inside and outside as well as Durham Castle. The cathedral was named the UK’s top attraction in Trip Advisor’s inaugural Travellers’ Choice attraction awards in 2013 and was the 19th most-visited free attraction in the UK in 2013. Along with Durham Castle it forms a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Raby Castle
Turner passed through Durham again in the autumn of 1817, gathering material for works commissioned by two wealthy new patrons, Lord Darlington and Lord Strathmore. It was on this tour that he produced his painting of Raby Castle in the Durham Dales - one of his most successful 'house portraits', which was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1818. Raby Castle in Teesdale is one of the best-preserved castles in North East England, it was here that The Rising of the North – an unsuccessful attempt by Catholic nobles from Northern England to depose Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots – took place. The castle was also the childhood home of Richard III’s mother, Cecily Neville called the 'Rose of Raby' because of her beauty. Close to Raby Castle in the Durham Dales is The Bowes Museum, a Grade I, French chateau-style building in the Teesdale market town of Barnard Castle.

The Bowes Museum
Close to Raby Castle in the Durham Dales is The Bowes Museum, a Grade I, French chateau-style building. It is not, as it might appear, a stately home but a museum purpose-built in the 19th Century by John and Josephine Bowes. The Bowes Museum has always had links to the artist as the father of its founder, John Bowes, was a direct patron of Turner and the Museum has four of his works in its collection, three of which are currently on display: two views of Gibside Hall, which was part of the Bowes family estate, one of Lowther Castle in Penrith. The fourth is of Bowes Tower, Yorkshire.

Rokeby Park
Rokeby Park, a Palladian style building in the Durham Dales, was built by Sir Thomas Robinson in around 1730. In 1769, it was acquired by J.S. Morritt whose son was a friend of Walter Scott. It is at Rokeby Hall that Scott’s poem Rokeby is set and Turner was commissioned to paint 20 watercolours to accompany the poem. These included pictures of a range of local Teesdale landmarks including one of The Meeting of the Waters where the Tees meets the Greta, which is close to Rokeby Hall, and another of Egglestone Abbey, near Barnard Castle.

High Force
Turner referred to the light in Durham’s landscapes as being his inspiration. He painted High Force in Teesdale on a trip to the Durham Dales during the very wet summer of 1816. It is England's highest uninterrupted drop of water as the River Tees suddenly and spectacularly falls 70 feet into a plunge pool below. A pretty, gentle woodland walk leads to this breathtaking sight. A picnic area and parking is available or you can drop into the visitor centre at Bowlees for the café and to discover more about the area. The visitor centre is also the starting point of a five-mile circular walk that takes in both High Force and Low Force, a smaller water fall down stream from High Force.

Product Information

  1. Durham Cathedral

    Durham City

    Contact Details:

    The Chapter Office
    The College
    Durham City
    County Durham
    DH1 3EH

    Tel:

    +44 0191 386 4266
  2. Raby Castle

    Staindrop

    Contact Details:

    Staindrop
    County Durham
    DL2 3AH

    Tel:

    +44 01833 660202
  3. The Bowes Museum

    Barnard Castle

    Contact Details:

    Newgate
    Barnard Castle
    County Durham
    DL12 8NP

    Tel:

    +44 01833 690606
  4. Rokeby Park

    Barnard Castle

    Contact Details:

    Rokeby
    Barnard Castle
    County Durham
    DL12 9RZ

    Tel:

    +44 01833 695692

Itinerary Distances

FromToDistance * (metric)
Durham Cathedral (54.77347,-1.57653)Raby Castle (54.5936,-1.80853)22.48
Raby Castle (54.5936,-1.80853)The Bowes Museum (54.54209,-1.91551)8.08
The Bowes Museum (54.54209,-1.91551)Rokeby Park (54.52284,-1.87354)3.11
Rokeby Park (54.52284,-1.87354)High Force (54.65223,-2.17906)21.97
Total Distance *55.63 miles
Estimated Journey Time1.79 hours

* Approximate distance by road