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The Durham Heritage Coast Autumn Bucket List!

Here’s the ultimate guide to must-try experiences, places to visit and top places to eat this autumn along the Durham Heritage Coast.

Autumn colours blaze on wild coastal woodlands and clifftops

From sunrises to spas, windswept walks to teatime treats, this rugged coastline offers the perfect autumnal getaway 

Wake up to autumn sunrises 
Start your day with a beautiful sunrise walk strolling along the coast. There’s something magical about autumn sunrises, they’re just that bit bolder and brighter this time of year. And as the sun rises later in the morning, there’s no need to get up with the lark to feast on the magnificent sight of the slow sunrise over the North Sea. 

This is the perfect season to soak up the brilliant coastal hues of pink, red and orange and here on the Durham Heritage Coast you’ll be spoilt for choice for beautiful autumn sunrise walks away from the crowds.  

Step out for colourful coastal walks 
With breath-taking displays of colour and wide-open spaces, nothing beats stepping out in the salty sea air on an autumnal day on this north-east coastline. Explore stretches of the 11-mile coastal footpath from Seaham in the North to Crimdon in the south to come across beautiful beaches, wild woodlands and striking clifftop trails.   

Play hide and seek at Blackhall Rocks 
Famously featured in the final scene of ‘Get Carter’ starring Michael Cane in 1971, Blackhall Beach has been transformed from its industrial past to a stunning coastal stretch. Here you’ll find the largest cliff caves on Durham’s magnesium limestone coastline, bring the kids for the perfect session of hide and seek!  

Take the dog to Crimdon Dene Beach  
Grab a thermos and hearty rolls for a picnic on this long sandy beach of Crimdon. This dog-friendly beach with its huge skies and vast sands is perfect for reconnecting with nature; here you’ll find Durham Coast’s only sand dunes, which provides unique habitat opportunities for wildlife.  

Discover the Sea Glass stoop! 
Wrap up warm and head to Seaham’s beautiful beaches where you can blow away the cobwebs on a refreshing seaside walk. As you walk keep an eye out for the sparkling colours of shiny sea glass along the shoreline. It’s a great way to keep the kids entertained, and on Seaham’s dog-friendly beaches, furry friends can come along and help you search. Find more detailed information on sea glass hunting here.

Shop till you drop at Dalton Park Outlet Shopping 
On the outskirts of Seaham, you’ll find Dalton Park Outlet Shopping – the region’s biggest outlet shopping centre. A haven for bargain lovers, you can save up to 50% off high street prices with more than 60 shops selling over 200 brands, from high street favourites to designer labels. 

Reconnect with nature at Hawthorn Dene  
This steep-sided ravine cuts through the limestone on the Durham coast and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest with nearly 200 different plants, trees and animals recorded here. If you want to escape it all, this is the place to do it. The ancient woodland is a haven for wildlife and during autumn the damp woodland floor comes alive with colourful fungi.  

Take a different Tern! 
Take the coastal path on the Durham Heritage Coast and you’ll discover a towering Little Tern sculpture, perched high on the clifftop overlooking Limekiln Gill Beach at Horden. The coastline is known for the Little Tern, once one of the UK’s rarest birds, it has chosen Crimdon beach as a favourite breeding ground. 

The views beside the sculpture are spectacular spanning the mighty North Sea, you’re sure to shake off any hint of sluggishness following the clifftop walk down to the beach below. 

The Durham Heritage Coast Autumn Bucket List! The Durham Heritage Coast Autumn Bucket List!
The Durham Heritage Coast Autumn Bucket List!

Come here to relax, explore and re-energise for a romantic break or family fun

From playing hide and seek in the largest sea caves to exploring the many rock pools at low tide and wildlife watching, this coast offers great family adventure 

Make a splash at Seaham Harbour Marina  
Seaham is home to the county’s only marina, and it’s here you will also find the Marina’s Activity Centre where you can paddleboard, kayak or canoe. No matter what the weather, you’ll find a host of activities to get you out on the water. 

Say Hello to Tommy  
Known locally as Tommy and created by local artist Ray Lonsdale, this immense statue is named '1101' (Eleven-O-One) referring to the first minute of peace as the armistice came into effect at 11am on November 11, 1918.  Standing 9ft 5inches tall, this metal soldier sculpture stands guard at Seaham seafront, commissioned to commemorate the First World War centenary. 

Indulge at Seaham Hall  
Everyone deserves to be pampered every now and then, and the 5* Seaham Hall Hotel and award-winning Serenity Spa is the perfect setting to enjoy a luxury coastal getaway. Recently crowned Small Hotel of the Year in the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, Seaham Hall offers relaxation in the tranquil Serenity Spa, the very best British and Pan-Asian cuisine in either The Dining Room or Ozone restaurants or the chance to soak up stunning autumn sea views from your very own private hot tub at one of the hotel’s new bungalows. This is bliss on the next level! 

The Durham Heritage Coast Autumn Bucket List!
The Durham Heritage Coast Autumn Bucket List! The Durham Heritage Coast Autumn Bucket List!

With its roaring log fires in comfy pubs, warming hot chocolates at its cafes, you’re sure of a warm welcome!

Get ready to explore, from tiny churches to cormorants and whales, pack your binoculars to make the most of this coastline's wonders, then head for a cosy pub to sample the local fare and treat yourself to a celebratory ale

Visit the church of St Mary the Virgin  
St Mary the Virgin Church, Seaham, is one of the oldest churches in England and one of the earliest Anglo Saxon still in existence, dating back to at least 658 AD and described as one of the finest small churches in the country.  Still very much in use, given its quintessential English setting, little wonder it is much sought-after for weddings. 

Tuck into a tasty seaside treat  
From award-winning cheeses to artisan bakers, local brewers and the freshest seafood, escape to Durham’s Heritage Coast and feast. 

Warm up with flavour-packed dishes at The Seaton Lane Inn, Seaham, or The King’s Head Inn, Great Ayton. Dine in style at Seaham Hall or tingle in the fresh sea air with fish and chips on the seafront, from hearty breakfasts to tempting afternoon teas, hospitality on the Durham Heritage Coast is always hearty and comes with a great northern welcome! 

Wildlife and Bird Watching  
Head to this coast in autumn and nothing is more magical than spotting grey seals with their pups but you might also be treated to White-beaked dolphins or even a Minke Whale. 

The varied landscapes and habitats along this coast are home to wide variety of unique wildlife, making it the perfect place for a spot of bird watching. Look out for Cormorants, Dunlins and Redshanks but a wide variety of passing migrant birds can be seen in autumn all along the coast.