AboutDistance: 8 kilometres (5 miles)
Grade of walk: Moderate
The route crosses a number of main roads and you should take care when crossing these roads.
Go from the Gala Theatre in Millennium Place (A), turn right and go past St. Nicholas’ church into the Market Place. Go through the Prince Bishop’s Shopping Centre using the lift or stairs next to BHS to reach the riverside path or bear left at the end of the market place and along Saddler Street. At a fork in the road where there are some steps (Magdalen Steps), take the left hand road (Elvet Bridge) and walk towards the River Wear until you reach the last shop on the left taking the steps leading you down to the riverside path (B).
The riverside path is also a cycleway so be prepared for riders to approach you from either direction.
Upon reaching the riverside path, go between the shopping centre and the Boathouse Bar. For the next 2 kilometres the river will be on your right. The path will take you under New Elvet Bridge and past a pedestrian bridge on your right (Baths Bridge). Continue along the path (grounds of the College of St. Hild & St. Bede on your left) and after the 1st boathouse a footpath, which turns off to the left and climbs between the buildings of the College, enables you to link to The Caldecotes Circular Walk. Shortly after passing the 2nd College boathouse cross a bridge over a small stream (Pelaw Wood Beck) which is a tributary of the river (C).
There are the steep slopes of Pelaw Woods on your left and sports fields across the river. Looking beyond the river and sports fields you will see the silhouettes of the Cathedral and Castle against the sky. Eventually you will see the premises of Durham Rowing Club on the other side of the river and you come to an open field (D).
At this point there is a choice of routes and only the 2nd route is suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.
1. Go straight ahead on left-hand of the two paths in the field then the path bears left at the corner of Old Durham Gardens. Immediately after the corner take the path on the right, which runs through an old railway embankment. The path then crosses a narrow bridge (unusable by buggies or wheelchairs) over the Old Durham Beck. Continue across playing fields to reach a bridge over the river (E).
Please note: the route leading to Point E across the playing fields is NOT a public right of way and neither is the pedestrian bridge (University of Durham permissible route).
2. Take the right-hand of the two paths in the field which runs beside the river and cross the Kingfisher Bridge over the Old Durham Beck, continue alongside the river, under an old railway bridge, with the steep slopes of Maiden Castle Woods on the other bank, and enter the University playing fields. Shortly afterwards, on your right, you reach a bridge over the river (E).
At the pedestrian bridge the two alternative routes converge. Cross the bridge - at this point it is possible to return to the city centre [see short-cut 1 below]. To continue the full route turn left to follow the path alongside the grounds of the University Graham Sports Centre to reach Shincliffe Bridge. Do not go over the bridge but cross straight over the A177 (F).
Take care crossing this road.
At this point it is possible to turn right to return to the city centre [short-cut 2] and buggies or wheelchairs should follow the short-cut. To continue the full walk go ahead into a small copse. Where the path meets a road at the buildings of the Pump House, turn left and continue along the road. This road has no pavements and is used by traffic to/from Houghall Farm. You should walk on the left-hand side of the road.
Just before the road bears to the right you will find a stile on the right. Cross the stile and take the path which winds between trees parallel to the road. The path gradually climbs so take the right-hand fork. The path then descends by a series of steps to meet a farm track at a stile. Turn left along the farm track until you meet a road at a boom gate, go through the gate and you will be on the Houghall Farm road. Turn right and continue past a riding school paddock on the left, until you reach a road junction (G).
At this point it is possible to turn right to return to the city centre [short-cut 3], or to continue straight ahead at the road junction and cross a stile to the right of a letter box. Follow the path through the trees and, when it reaches Great High Wood, follow the path that continues straight ahead. The path climbs steps to reach Hollingside Lane. Turn right, follow Hollingside Lane, passing Hollingside House and the University Botanic Gardens on the left. The Gardens are open to the public and have a café. (H).
After you pass Fountains Hall on the right the road bears left and passes between the buildings of Grey College, with a spectacular view of Durham Cathedral to the right. When Hollingside Lane meets South Road turn left to cross South Road at the pedestrian crossing, and a few paces to the left will take you to the end of Elvet Hill Road (J).
Turn right onto Elvet Hill Road, and just after Van Mildert College there is a road on the left leading to the Oriental Museum. Continue along Elvet Hill Road past Trevelyan and St. Mary’s Colleges on the right. Where the road meets Potter’s Bank turn right to walk down the hill to a roundabout. Cross over Potter’s Bank just before the roundabout and then cross Quarryheads Lane at the stone cottage by the White Gates. Go through the gates and follow the track, which bears to the right and continues downhill to cross Prebends’ Bridge (J).
As you cross the bridge you will see the Cathedral on your left. On the far side of the bridge turn left onto the riverside footpath which will take you past the Old Fulling Mill Museum. At the end of the footpath, there is a flight of steps to the bottom of Silver Street. Turn right and walk up Silver Street into the Market Place. Walk past the right-hand end of the church (A).
Shortcut 1 - At west end of bridge turn right and follow the riverside path below Maiden Castle Woods. After the woods the path continues with the grounds of Durham City Rugby Club on your left, then swings left and joins Green Lane. Turn left down Green Lane, with City, and cricket grounds on your right. At the end of the University grounds, a road joins from the left. Continue straight ahead and walk past the red- brick Old Shire Hall on your left and the Royal County Hotel on the right. At the traffic lights, cross over New Elvet and walk up Elvet Bridge. At Magdalen Steps turn right into Saddler Street and continue straight ahead into the Market Place and then into Millennium Place.
Short-cut 2 - On west side of A177 turn right and walk north along the roadside path, passing East Durham & Houghall College on the left, and Graham Sports Centre on the right. The path climbs through trees and you reach the outskirts of the city at a roundabout. Take the road ahead, Hallgarth Street, and continue until you reach traffic lights. Continue straight ahead down New Elvet, with university buildings on your left. At the next set of traffic lights, turn left and walk up Elvet Bridge. At Magdalen Steps turn right into Saddler Street and continue straight ahead into the Market Place and then into Millennium Place.
Short-cut 3 - At road junction turn right and follow the track for a short distance between hedges until it reaches a stile. Cross the stile and continue through the field with the hedge on your left until you reach trees and another stile. Cross the stile and you meet a track; turn right and follow the track which bears to the left and then to the right before it meets the A177. Turn left and the path climbs through trees and you reach the outskirts of the city at a roundabout. Take the road ahead, Hallgarth Street, and continue until you reach traffic lights. Continue straight ahead down New Elvet, with university buildings on your left. At the next set of traffic lights, turn left and walk up Elvet Bridge. At Magdalen Steps turn right into Saddler Street and continue straight ahead into the Market Place and Millennium Place.
Wheelchairs and buggies cannot complete the whole route since there are stiles. However, a shorter version is possible and uses the lifts in the Prince Bishops Shopping Centre to get to the riverside path (B). It then follows the route above, using alternative 2 and short-cut 1 or short-cut 2.
- Distance: 5-10 Miles
- Grade: Moderate
- Route Surface: Off Road
- Route Surface: On Road
Parking & Transport
- Off site parking
- Parking (charge)
- In countryside
- Outdoor Attraction