Beer and history in ancient Durham

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Similar to our long weekend visit to Berlin in February, the North Eastern City of Durham had been high on our list of places we have wanted to visit for a city break for some time.
Ros has been collecting the cathedrals of England for some time with Durham cathedral unticked and not photographed so far, and also I’d been aware of nearby Consett FC leaving their historic Belle Vue ground home soon (rumoured Summer 2012), so we pencilled in and booked a visit for the weekend of March 9-11th.

Ros booked us in for two nights into the excellent Victorian town house > http://www.durhambedandbreakfast.com/ staying in the comfy and roomy ‘Beaumont’ Room.
Our room was indeed very comfortable, our hosts very friendly and helpful about local information and it is about a 10 minute stroll from there to the heart of the city.

Durham by city standards is small, more like an averaged sized town, and anyone with a reasonable fitness level can easily tour the city on foot, which is the ideal way to investigate the nooks, crannies, ancient side alleys and small streets dotted around it.

Two things immediately strike you about Durham, the dominance of the cathedral on the sky line, and that Durham is very much a university (since 1832) city, with students being very much in evidence, and hence the city for that reason has quite a vibrant atmosphere.

The River Wear runs through the heart of Durham and gives extra prominence to the views of the 11th century Norman cathedral, especially from the central Elvet Bridge.

Another good reason for visiting Durham, certainly from my view is for the excellent selection of traditional pubs serving real ales, and so on our arrival on the Friday, we started with food at the nearby ‘Bridge Hotel’, hearty portions, good value menu. Before moving onto a couple of other pubs, see my blog under pubs for March.

The plan on Saturday was to tour the centre by foot, and then for me to drive the 10 miles to my game and for Ros to photograph the inside of the cathedral in the PM.
On the subject of the match, a week before departure I’d noted that Consett had in fact moved their scheduled game on the 10th versus Bishop Auckland to a previous Saturday, so now had no home fixture scheduled, obviously much to my annoyance, which was relieved slightly when I heard later that the move to the new unbuilt home was on hold due to some local building/finance problems and nimbys.
So, it seems like Belle Vue may have one more season of football in it, so allowing another opportunity to visit it.

Studying the fixtures, I’d noted that Tow Law also had a home fixture, an old mining village set high up in the Durham coal fields with superb view of Weardale (see my football blogs March).

So, the photos you see below were taken on the Saturday morning, where the weather kind, the sun shone, and we had a lovely 2-3hour walk, with breaks, around the City and down the river bank, watching the students at the rowing club, leaving and returning for their morning punt down the river (or whatever you call rowing exercise?).

Saturday evening started with food (again excellent), at ‘The Court Inn’ on the other side of the City, and finished at the homely ‘Ye Old Elm Tree’ on our side of the City, a very nice back street boozer with quality ale, and ideal for sitting and chatting.

We stayed two nights, and we thought this was ideal to see all we needed to. Although I didn’t get to all the ale pubs I wanted to, so a re-visit at some stage in the future will be required, especially as I have so many football clubs in Durham to visit and tick.

Elvet Bridge
View from below Elvet Bridge towards the centre of the City.
View back down the Wear river towards the cathedral.

Green opposite the cathedral, students display jean art!
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