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5 Questions To Ask Yourself When You Visit Durham’s World Heritage Sites

5 Questions To Ask Yourself When You Visit Durham’s World Heritage SitesScore 67%Score 67%

Having seen the delights of one of England’s most South Westerly Cities in Exeter, it was perhaps  an odd one to find ourselves heading to one of the most North Easterly Cities in Durham… but as Bill Bryson once so famously said ‘‘If you have never been to Durham before, go there at once. Take my car, it’s wonderful.”

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Since we had no car to take, we headed off in our motorhome to test out the ‘Park’n’ Ride’ scheme near to Duham’s botanical gardens. Hoping to discover just why Durham’s World Heritage sites are so respected across the world.
The historic city of  Durham sits proudly overlooking the windswept pastures of County Durham. From it’s high vantage point on top of a ‘river island’, Durham’s imposing Cathedral & Castle gaze down on the River Wear as it winds its way around Durham’s city centre. These World Heritage Sites were one of the very first to be recognised by UNESCO alongside other established tourist hotspots as the Taj Mahal & Dubrovnik. But Durham has found even more recent fame as elements  of Harry Potter have been filmed here in the Chapter Hall.

So Question #1 – Why did the monks from Lindisfarne decide to relocate to Durham. Clearly it’s an impressive settlement now, but what made them choose it in the first place?

 

Durham was once described in Humphry Clinker’s novel as a mass of old jumbled stones, with dark streets and a gloomy Cathedral… but we’re pleased to say that although we visited in rain, the welcome in the Cathedral was nothing short of a  ‘brilliant ray of sunshine…’ so many enthusiastic volunteers & staff who simply couldn’t do enough to help both us and other visitors..

 

Every city should have Something special

We’ve learnt a few tips on our European Roadtrip so far, but perhaps the biggest has been to seek out a decent guide to help make the places you’re visiting come alive. With young children it can sometimes be a challenge, but our Cathedral Guide (Bob) was fantastic and soon had both girls hanging on his every word as he took us through a journey dating back to St Cuthbert and St Bede. The opportunity to hear how Durham’s history has evolved through the Reformation into the Present Day was a brilliant history lesson, and even allowed us to link to previously visited sites in Cordoba (same arches as the lady chapel at Durham) & Santiago de Compostela (the high altar)

So Question 2 – Why did William the Conqueror want to make Durham such an important strategic stronghold in the North (the Cathedral was built in only 40yrs!)

 

Perhaps the biggest highlight was one of the oldest and best preserved Norman Arches that you can find across Europe! The Norman’s were noted for their fine masonry skills and this was certainly in evidence here… it was perhaps just as amazing to imagine that this arch (some 30ft of the ground) was actually the main entrance to the castle in medieval times! The fabulous history surrounds you on every step of your journey through the castle, but the sounds of everyday life can still be heard as students pass you in the corridors whilst the catering staff prepare for tonight’s banquets in the Great Hall… It really does have that feeling of a place with a ‘heart & soul’ something carried over from our tour around the Cathedral… the place seems very much alive and happy to be part of 21st Century life in Durham.
With the light fading quickly and having spent a full day in Durham, we simply couldn’t fit everything we wanted in today… but that’s given us a great reason to return and find out more about the Beamish Museum or the Locomotion We’ll just have to carve out some more time to come back and visit this wonderful part of England… but next we head south towards another Cathedral Town, and the City of York.

Durham

so where did we park the bus for the night?

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Summary Need to escape for a few days? Want to compare weekend breaks to top cities such as Bordeaux, Rome or Copenhagen? Does your family love to explore new cities too? Do you also think that city breaks aren't just for adults and are a great way to learn, relax and bond as a family. If so, grab a seat, make yourself comfortable & discover some of the favourite 'family friendly' cities we've visited in our 700+ day European Roadtrip

Value for money
74%
ease of access
72%
activities for families
71%
motorhome accommodation availability
60%
public transport
63%
would we return factor
64%

About The Author

Richard

Ever wanted to pack your bags, just jump in a motorhome and go off and explore Europe as a family? Well, that’s exactly what my family has done since September 2015. Visiting 35 European countries, travelling over 54,000 miles and grabbing over 450 family experiences on the way… enjoying Bobsleigh in Norway, Climbing into Mt Etna in Sicily or Kayaking the River Dordogne.

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