Escape to the country

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Travel editor explores five beauty spots around Durham.

1. Finchale Priory

Finchale Priory stands nestled in trees along the banks of the River Wear. The priory was once an outpost of Durham Cathedral and until its suppression in 1538, acted as a retreat for the monks of Durham. The priory is a 2 hour walk from the city centre, which is the perfect way to fill a spare afternoon.

2. Barnard Castle

There are many reasons to visit this charming town, but testing your eye- sight shouldn’t be one of them. Wander through historic cobbled streets, visit independent shops and cafes, or perhaps go for a walk along the river. The castle itself is open to visitors and provides a great view over the Tees Gorge. For those wanting to explore the local wildlife, the circular walk through Flatt’s woods offers visitors flora such as bluebells and primroses in the spring, and holly and snowdrops in the winter.

3. Cow Green Reservoir

The reservoir lies at the centre of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has the most diverse range of upland habitats in Britain, ranging from lower lying hay meadows to limestone grassland and blanket bogs. After a summer stuck inside, visitors can relish the vast open space on a moorland walk, or birdwatch along the banks of the reservoir.

4. Lindisfarne

This historic tidal island lies just off the Northeast corner of England, and can only be accessed by a causeway which is covered by the sea twice every day. The island is renowned for its medieval religious heritage as well as its picturesque 16th century castle, but it is also home to a conservation area and pebbly beaches. The world famous ‘Lindisfarne Mead’, a unique fortified wine, is also produced in St Aidan’s Winery on the island, and can be purchased in the shop.

Make sure to check the tide timetables before your visit, as it is easy to accidentally get stranded on the island!

5. Alnmouth and Warkworth Castle

Known as the ‘Tobermory of Northumberland’, the seaside town Almouth attracts visitors with its picturesque colourful houses, quiet beaches, and diverse collection of wildlife species.

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