Out of 16 Dark Sky discovery sites spread across the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the UNESCO Global Geopark (a few of the darkest skies in England), you will find 12 of these in the Durham Dales. If you enjoy stargazing and taking in the awe of the beauty and vastness of our universe, make sure you visit the Grassholme Observatory, one of the purpose-built observatories that overlook Teesdale’s Grassholme Reservoir. With the use of high-tech computers and instruments, you will be taken on a journey to watch planets spin, galaxies that light up, and gas clouds that glow.
The Country of Durham is home to a few of the finest and most beautiful country house hotels in this region. One of these includes the five-star Seaham Hall. Awarded among the best spots for taking spa breaks in the North East, the award-winning Georgian Serenity Spa includes a range of outdoor hot tubs, pools, and several relaxing treatments that will leave you completely relaxed and glowing. If you are looking for somewhere to stay with a more modest budget you can find some fantastic Durham hotel deals. For scrumptious meals try out some of the seasonal meals in The Dining Room or take your tastebuds on a journey to the far east when dining at the Asian-inspired Ozone restaurant. From here you can retreat to your own suite (one of these was named after the daughter of Lord Byron). While every room has individual character and style, each one includes stunning views and beautiful décor.
Durham County’s landscapes and landmarks are often featured in blockbuster films and television shows, and among the more notable locations would have to be Durham Cathedral in Durham City. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the pilgrimage places for close to a millennium was also the home to Hogwarts in some of the Harry Potter movies. Immerse yourself in the world of Ron, Harry, and Hermione in the cloisters of the Cathedral, and view The Chapter House, which was used as Professor McGonagall’s classroom where she taught transfiguration lessons. The Galilee Chapel of the Cathedral was also used in Avengers Endgame, where it was transformed into the Asgardian Palace that Thor returns to retrieve the infinity stones.
To immerse yourself in the history of the County of Durham, visit The Living Museum of the North. This is a working museum set in 300 acres of Durham countryside, that brings the Industrial Revolution (including the early 20th century) to life with agricultural workshops, village folk in costumes, and authentic structures that were bought in brick-by-brick from across the region and then rebuilt on Beamish land. The cobbled Pit Village is a great place to wander around or a visit to many of the welcoming shopkeepers dotted along the High Street. Other activities include visiting the school where you can practice handwriting, find out what is cooking at one of the cottages, or ride the Beamish Tramway before you tuck into battered cod from the famous Davy’s Fish and Chip Shop.
Take a journey under the towering trees before you reach the awe-inspiring High Force Waterfall which is a truly impressive natural landmark of the County of Durham. The journey begins along the falls of the North Pennines AONB, the River Tree swells before it plunges 21 meters into the gorge below. These falls are beautiful throughout the year, but the ideal time to pay a visit is in the winter and autumn months since the rainfall causes powerful waterfalls, and when the temperature drops low enough you may even be lucky to see the water freeze. After admiring these amazing falls (and taking as many pictures as you can), the adventure continues when taking one of the other marked routes taking you across, through, and around the countryside that surrounds this area.
Related Reading – No Man’s Land Fort – Portsmouth, England