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Route No. 220 - Sunday 17 June 2007
Durham City centre and riverside walk - 6 km
River Wear, Durham . . .

Map: OS Explorer 308 Durham & Sunderland
Route Map from OS Open Space service
Open this route in Google Earth


Market Place with the town hall and the entrance to the indoor market
Market Place with the town hall and the entrance to the indoor market

So, this morning we drove to Durham and parked at the Prince Bishop's shopping centre at about 10.00am. It was a nostalgia trip for my wife who comes from the North East, where her Dad was a miner. She often visited Durham with her mother and sisters for a day out.

Well it's come to this - today I have been "grey army" strolling in Durham walking a grand total of about 6 km! I didn't even need any hiking gear. I walked it in my ordinary shoes and just popped into a cafe when we felt like a drink or a snack.

Saddler Street leading up to the Cathedral
Saddler Street leading up to the Cathedral

Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral

From the car park we walked to the market place and then up Saddler Street to Palace Green, a grassy square in front of the cathedral. After a look around the part of the cathedral not in use for the Sunday services we had a coffee in a coffee shop in the old paupers' hospital at the side of the square.

Coffee shop by the Cathedral on Palace Green
Coffee shop by the Cathedral on Palace Green

Sanctuary Knocker on the Cathedral door
Sanctuary Knocker on the Cathedral door

River Wear below the Cathedral
River Wear below the Cathedral

Durham Cathedral from across the river Wear
Durham Cathedral from across the river Wear

Looking across Framwellgate Bridge to the castle
Looking across Framwellgate Bridge to the castle

From the coffee shop we followed a footpath from the square down to the riverside and walked along the riverside path upstream to Prebends Bridge. We crossed the bridge and followed the riverside path along the opposite bank downstream to Framwellgate Bridge.

Prebends Bridge over the river Wear
Prebends Bridge over the river Wear

Elvet Bridge over the river Wear in Durham
Elvet Bridge over the river Wear in Durham

After lunch we followed the riverside path on the north side of the river heading east (upstream) for about 2km to a cable stayed footbridge over the River Wear at map ref. NZ 284416.

We walked back through the old part of the town and found a cafe for an early lunch near Elvet Bridge.

Looking back to the cathedral from the riverside walk
Looking back to the cathedral from the riverside walk

Cable stayed footbridge over the River Wear at map ref. NZ 284416
Cable stayed footbridge over the River Wear at map ref. NZ 284416

Riverside path along the river Wear
Riverside path along the river Wear

The river Wear about 1km upstream of Durham city centre
The river Wear about 1km upstream of Durham city centre

Cable stayed footbridge over the River Wear at map ref. NZ 284416
Cable stayed footbridge over the River Wear at map ref. NZ 284416

Wild flowers on the bank of the river Wear
Wild flowers on the bank of the river Wear
The river water was like chocolate after the recent heavy rain

There was a sculpture of a rather asiatic looking cow on the river bank at the edge of the sports field. An enigmatic inscription asked what the cow had to do with Durham, some monks and two milk maids.

We crossed the footbridge and followed the riverside path back into the city centre, across the sports field to a footbridge over the river Wear at the swimming pool near the city centre.

Seating pavillion on the sports field east of Durham city centre
Seating pavillion on the sports field east of Durham city centre

An oarsman prcticing on the Wear near Durham city centre
An oarsman prcticing on the Wear near Durham city centre

No one had hear of Dun Holm which means "hill island" They began to despair of finding the place until one day they heard a milkmaid enquiring of another milkmaid if she had seen the first milkmaid's lost cow. The second milkmain had seen the cow walking toward Dun Holm. The monks followed the milkmaid to Dun Holm and founded their cathedral on the spot. Various changes over the centuries have modified the name into its present form, Durham.

In fact this is all to do with the legend of the founding of Durham. The story goes that the monks of Lindisfarne were driven out by Viking raiders and wandered the north east of England with the coffin of St. Cuthbert for many years. One day the cart with the saint's coffin on it would not move. The monks prayed and a vision of the saint told them to go to Dun Holm.

Sculpture of a cow on the river bank by the sports field
Sculpture of a cow on the river bank by the sports field

Looking back to the sports field from the footbridge over the Wear at the swimming baths
Looking back to the sports field from the footbridge over the Wear
at the swimming baths near the city centre

There was just time for a final coffee before driving home after a great day out to visit my wife's roots. The walk was only about 6km but we spent all day over it.

Well we had had an interesting walk around the ancient city centre, a very pleasant stroll along the river Wear and discovered the origins of the city and its cathedral.

New housing by the Wear near the New Elvet Bridge
New housing by the Wear near the New Elvet Bridge

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