Welcome to Durham
With a thousand years of history under its belt, and a skyline
dominated by its magnificent Cathedral, the hilly city of Durham in
north-east England is picturesque and prominent on the list of the
United Kingdom's 'must see' tourist destinations.
Back in 995, legend has it a group of monks from Lindisfarne
(the Holy Island off the north-east English coast) were wandering
around looking for a place to settle down and entomb the body of
their revered mentor, Saint Cuthbert. They stopped to help a
distressed milkmaid who had lost her cow, and the animal was found
resting on a pretty peninsula formed by the River Wear. The spot
seemed perfect for their purpose and they stayed, later starting
work on the building of a Cathedral (1093), which still houses
Saint Cuthbert's remains. As well as becoming one of England's most
influential ecclesiastical centres, the residents of Durham also
set about making their mark politically mainly because of the
town's strategic position close to the Scottish border. The castle
built by William the Conqueror in 1071 saw plenty of military
action over the centuries, and stands proudly opposite the
Cathedral, now home to a college of Durham University.
Many of the sons and daughters of Durham have made their mark in
a variety of fields, from poets and artists to novelists and
musicians. One of the most notable modern celebrities spawned by
the city is Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister.
History has moulded Durham, and its medieval character has been
carefully preserved, making today's city a compact living museum
spiced with a wide range of modern facilities. Most of the city
centre is pedestrianised, with life centred on the cobbled Market
Place where street entertainers provide amusement and modern shops
and restaurants trade happily alongside the old Victorian Market.
Along the riverbanks, which border the town on three sides,
meandering paths and river cruisers provide a peaceful alternative
to sightseeing and shopping.
With 630 'listed buildings' (most in the central city
conservation area), Durham is the ideal place to experience 'ye
olde England' with all the mod-cons.
Information & Facts
Durham has a temperate climate with lower than average rainfall
compared to the rest of England and four distinct seasons. Summer
weather in Durham is generally warm and sunny, and winters are cool
with occasional snowfall. July and August are the most popular
months to visit Durham when temperatures have been known to reach
as high as 31°C (88°F), but they are also the wettest months of the
year. Spring also sees plenty of tourists when average daytime
highs hover round 23°C (73°F) as does autumn when temperatures are
similar with October usually the driest month.
English is the official language, though visitors will be
astonished by the variety of regional accents.
The currency is the pound (GBP), which is divided into 100
pence. ATMs are available in all towns and Visa, MasterCard and
American Express are widely accepted; visitors with other cards
should check with their credit card companies in advance. Foreign
currency can be exchanged at bureaux de change and large hotels,
however better exchange rates are likely to be found at banks.
Travellers cheques are accepted in all areas frequented by
tourists; they are best taken in Pounds Sterling to avoid
Local time in the United Kingdom is GMT (GMT +1 from last
Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).