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48 hours on the Durham Coast

Durham’s coast is home to a dramatic stretch of designated heritage coastline, overflowing with wonderful wildlife, magnificent beaches, clifftop walks and waves of coastal charm, perfect for a stress-busting break.

The imposing coastline of Durham is both beautiful and fascinating, with stories stretching far beyond its stunning beaches and rugged cliffs.

A journey along Durham’s coast reveals a coastline immersed in history, offering an array of breathtaking landscapes and beautiful beaches, alongside bustling towns and villages.

Ideal for walkers or cyclists, follow the coast’s contours by striking out along the Heritage Coast Footpath. Stretching from Seaham in the North to Crimdon in the south, you’ll encounter some of the county’s most spectacular scenery on this twisting 11-mile path.  

The lively harbour town of Seaham is an excellent starting point. Discover the county’s only marina, alongside which is East Durham Heritage & Lifeboat Centre and Seaham Harbour Activity Centre, where you can take to the water to paddleboard, kayak or canoe. 

If that’s whipped up your appetite, you’re spoilt for choice - Seaham is packed with tempting eateries and quaint seaside shops. Tuck into home-made food at The Seaton Lane Inn or feast on some of the finest coastal views in the North East at The Look Out.

Or take your pick from The Lamp Room, Flamingo Bar & Café or Tonia’s Café which also houses the Visitor Information Point, for ice-creams head to Lickety Split Creamery.

The infamous poet Lord Byron also made Seaham his home for a short period after marrying Anne Isabella Millbanke in 1815 at Seaham Hall. If you want to splurge, check-in here for a night of pampered luxury at this sumptuous five-star spa hotel. 

Nearby is the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, dating back to the 7th century, one of the oldest churches in England. Only a stone’s throw away is Seaham Beach, world-famous for its abundance of sea glass, shiny, highly coloured transparent nuggets popular with collectors. 

Heading south you’ll pass Nose’s Point, Hawthorn Dene and Easington Beach Banks, which have emerged from their industrial past to become a haven for wildlife and internationally acclaimed for their rare fauna and flora. 

Drink in the dramatic panoramic views across the North Sea, while you enjoy a bracing clifftop stroll across magical wildflower meadows and grasslands, teeming with life. Keep an eye out for skylarks, little terns, grey partridges, and the rare brown argus and dingy skipper butterflies.  

End the day at Horden by hopping on a bus or catch a train from the newly opened train station back to Seaham. Enjoy a night of fine dining if you’re staying at Seaham Hall and Serenity Spa or overnight at one of the town’s inns. Seaton Lane Inn, offers cosy dog-friendly rooms and laid-back dining. 

For more accommodation options, visit:

48 hours on the Durham Coast 48 hours on the Durham Coast
48 hours on the Durham Coast

Get back to nature

Uncover rare fauna and flora nestled amongst the relics of Durham’s industrial past. 

After breakfast, head for Castle Eden Dene which extends for four miles and covers 500 acres, a favourite destination for wildlife as well as walkers. Thousands of years in the making, this Site of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserve cries out to be explored. Roughly halfway along the coastal footpath at Castle Eden Dene you’ll encounter a change of scenery with acres of woodland.

Stop here for coffee at Café in the Dene jointly run by National Trust and Natural England. 

Follow winding trails through this mysterious landscape of tangled trees, rocky outcrops and steep cliffs to experience the ‘the wildwood’ that once covered much of Britain woodlands. You’ll feel cut adrift from civilisation as you wander through North East England’s largest area of semi-natural woodland, home to more than 450 species of plants and mammals. Stroll amongst majestic yew trees, ancient oaks and keep your eyes peeled for resident woodland creatures.  

Important for both its geology and wildlife, Blackhall Rocks and Cross Gill Nature Reserve is a genuinely hidden gem on the Durham Heritage Coast and a must-visit spot, especially for birdwatchers. The cliffs and coast feature natural exposures of reef-limestone dating back 250 million years, now the perfect home for breeding skylarks. 

48 hours on the Durham Coast
48 hours on the Durham Coast 48 hours on the Durham Coast

Blackhall Beach has been transformed from the bleak industrial landscape it once was (famously featured in the final scene of ‘Get Carter’ starring Michael Cane in 1971) to a beautiful stretch of clean and quiet coast. Be sure to head down and explore the rocky beach, where you’ll find the largest cliff caves in Durham’s magnesium limestone coastline.

Your final stop is the golden sands of Crimdon Beach, the perfect backdrop for a picnic or refreshing dip.  

Situated at the southern end of Durham’s Heritage Coast, this long, pleasant stretch of sandy beach is also home to the Durham coast’s only sand dunes. Every year Crimdon welcomes back one of the rarest seabirds, the Little Tern, who returns from West Africa to breed here.

If you’re visiting with family, stay at Crimdon Dene Holiday Park which overlooks Crimdon Beach – a fantastic park with incredible sea views.

For more information on the Durham and North East Coast explore the region our website here!