Durham Cathedral and Castle, in Durham, UK, is only a little over 3 hours by train from London and just under 2 hours from Edinburgh. This is a great place for a day out or a stop between these two popular cities. To make it even easier there is a bus service from the Durham train and coach stations to the Market Square where you will want to start today’s walk.
The bus is called the Cathedral Bus and only costs £1 for the day. Catch the bus from the train station and be dropped off at the Market Square. The walk we did will take you in a circle starting and ending in this square. I would recommend exploring the square on your return, including going into the Market Hall.
Market Square with Saddler Street going left and Silver going right.
When you cross the square and come to two streets Saddler and Silver, you will want to go left up Saddler Street. Stopping along the way to shop or even get a cup of tea (you are in England after all). You will feel like you are walking through a medieval town, with its cobblestone streets and old buildings. You will pass places with great names like Be Tempted and the Fat Hippo.
Go to the right on Owengate. Just before you get to the top you will see a visitor center on the left. Be sure to stop and visit the World Heritage Site Visitor Centre. At the center they continuously show a film about the history of Durham and the Cathedral. It is only eight minutes long, so sit down and enjoy.
Coming out of the visitor center go left. You’ll see a large grass area, called the Palace Green, with the Cathedral across the way. It was lunchtime when we were there so we stopped at the Café on the Green. The food was good and the staff was friendly and helpful. They even made me a custom sandwich that was exactly what I wanted.
A small section of Durham Cathedral.
The entrance to the Cathedral is free, but they will appreciate a donation. Take your time and walk from one end to the other, maybe even sitting down to help take it all in. It is believed that this was the world’s first structure built using a pointed arch. It also claims to have the most intact surviving set of medieval monastic buildings in the British Isles.
Before you leave go to the gift shop area. You will find a large replica of the Cathedral made out of Lego’s. There is also a café, called Undercroft Restaurant. We did stop there for tea and scones. The food that we saw looked quite good and thought next visit we would eat there.
As you leave the main entrance of the Cathedral you will see buildings ahead of you on the left. Between the first two buildings is an almost hidden passageway that will take you out towards the river, the river Wear. At the end of the passageway you will come to a path, go to your right. It will go along the river and take you back down in the direction of the market square.
The river path back towards the Market Square.
You will eventually come to Silver Street. (It’s really not a bad walk and most of it is downhill.) When you reach the street take a little detour to the left to look at the river and castle from the bridge. You will have a nice view of the 11th century Castle from there. The castle is now used as part of the Durham University also referred to as Castle Collage.
Reverse your little detour and head back on the bridge the way you came and continue up Silver Street to the Market Square. Look for the Market Hall, there you will find the Durham Indoor Market.
Back at the Market Square – straight ahead and to the left is the Market Hall sign.
The market is worth a walk through with many everyday and unusual finds to be explored. You can even get a cup of tea and/or something to eat. There are tables upstairs with a view over the market.
The square is interesting with several statues including Neptune and it has many places you can sit.
Catch the bus at the Market Square and head back to the train station completing your circle tour and historical fun day out.
**If walking is a problem or short on time the bus can drop you off and pick you up right at the Cathedral. Durham has a lot to offer and you could actually spend several days exploring the rest of the city and the Durham Dales. We only had half a day and felt like we did a lot in a short period of time.