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Are you tired of your typical lockdown walk to observatory hill?  Have you walked around the river too many times to count? Below are a few ideas to help you explore further afield and discover some of the fantastic scenic spots Durham and the North East have to offer . 

1.Blackhall Rocks Local Nature Reserve 

This breath-taking reserve is part of Durham’s Heritage Coast and was recommended to me by a local to the area. It is of scientific, conservation and of course scenic interest. The area boasts of beautiful coastal views and is geologically significant with its rare Magnesian Limestone grassland. In terms of logistics, the journey is roughly 1.5 hours via bus from the University and there is an easy access footpath and thankfully a lot of benches along the way. The meadows are in bloom in the summer months so a great place to relax by the coast and take a break from exam stress this term. Keep an eye out for the different types of birds that can be spotted!

2.Shincliffe Wood

If you’re looking for a closer nature spot to go for a walk, Shincliffe woods are in walking distance from Durham University .The route through the woodlands takes approximately an hour to walk through and there are some lovely river views.

The key attractions for me here are the stunning bluebells. There are also pubs and a café nearby which have outdoor seating. 

Additionally the village of Shincliffe is also pretty and is worth visiting while at Durham.

 3. Flass Vale Local Nature Reserve

This natural landscape really is on our doorstep; it’s a short walk away from campus and starts at the edge of the city centre. It is an ideal walking environment with lots of public footpaths. Notable features include the woodlands and grasslands  and it also has historic significance with Maiden’s Bower ,an ancient monument situated in the vale .

 4. Seaham Beach

Who doesn’t love a trip to the beach? We are so lucky that the iconic Seaham beach is on our doorstep. It’s a lovely sandy beach with rocks and the colourful sea glass is another selling point.  This is a peaceful place to walk around, escape the university bubble and relieve stress. In addition, you could travel around the seaside town of Seaham.

 5. Durham University Botanic Gardens

 Finally, if you don’t fancy having to travel too far but still want to immerse yourself in a peaceful natural environment, the university Botanic Gardens are a must visit place for the spring/summer! Just a ten minute walk from Josephine Butler College, the cultivated gardens hold sculptures and a variety of different plants and trees. The botanic gardens are a beautiful environment to walk around or alternatively have a picnic in. Plus, the gardens are free to enter with your campus card which is a bonus. 

Another attraction is that the Hay Meadow Nature Trail can be accessed via the botanic gardens.  Perfect if you want to go on a longer walk.  Along this trail there are many different species of plants and wildlife to be seen.


If you’re interested in any of these sites, you can follow the links below for more info,

Blackhall Rocks Local Nature Reserve

Flass Vale Local Nature reserve

Seaham Beach Sea glass 

Hay Meadow Trail 

Fionnuala is an archaeology student at Durham University and is interested in politics, arts and culture.
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