A day in Durham City

During a week off a few friends and I decided to have a day in Durham. When I’m there it’s normally with a specific objective, either to buy something or wait for a connecting bus to work ( I know which one I like more.)
However for a change I managed to just wander aimlessly around and take in the city. We hit on lucky, apart from a rather torrential downpour when we arrived it remained clear for the remainder.

The City is undergoing a lot of work in the marketplace replacing the cobbles and paving stones and moving the statues around. In my opinion I don’t like it. There’s been complaints that the road up to the Cathedral aren’t clearly defined, which is in fact true, the only way you can see the road is a small strip of different colour stones separating the road from the pavement

Spot the road (http://davidariley.co.uk/blog/?p=394)

The Marketplace is a charming place, sadly on one side the modern shop fronts have destroyed a lot of the lover features of the buildings which is a problem afflicting most modern town and city centres. However the regeneration of the market has completely obliterated the charm and historic setting that one gets in Durham For example the old marketplace looked like this:

Durham Market place (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Durham_Market_Place.jpg)

It’s quite sad that this has had to happen but I supposed the cash strapped council felt that a statue needed moving 10 feet forward and painted black instead of the battered green that comes with copper being exposed:

After (Peter Bainbridge)
Before

Moving away from the Marketplace we ended up at the highlight of Durham, that is the Weatherpersons at the Walkergate development, home to quality dining like “Nando’s” and “Chiquito.” After devouring a quick breakfast we headed up to the Cathedral. Now for me it’s the nicest place on Earth. There is nothing quite like a Norman Cathedral with such a magnificent history. (of which most of it will end up on here in the near future)

Durham Cathedral from Palace Green (Peter Bainbridge)

The green in front used to have lots of those little “keep off the grass” however the Lumière festival effectively voided that little suggestion and in the summer or a warm day is often filled with Students, tourists and the occasional me lying on the grass with a few friends sharing a bottle of wine or beer, or just simply watching the world go by. However as you can see it was rather wet that day.

On entering the cathedral first one must pass the “Sanctuary Knocker”,” although a replica the knocker was rung by a criminal fleeing from justice, on appealing for sanctuary the person then had  37 days to decide whether to face justice or head for the port of Hartlepool, board a cog and sail to wherever it is going, destined never to set foot on English soil again.

Sanctuary Knocker (Peter Bainbridge)

The hole in its head was allegedly formed when a rather over enthusiastic kingsmen shot it while attempting to apprehend a fugitive (More on the knocker at a later date)

A Quick look around the cathedral and it was time to climb the steps to the top of the tower

Durham Cathedral (Peter Bainbridge)
This way to tired legs and vertigo (Peter Bainbridge)

The view from the top is simply stunning. You can take in all of the Durham area into Tyne and Wear and to the west the site of the Battle of Neville’s Cross. It was on the tower the monks prayed for an English victory which indeed did come.

View over to the Castle (The Author)

The problem with the tower is it’s very dark, the steps are heavily worn out from 900+ years of use and you do get very dizzy walking down. What was interesting was the graffiti etched onto the walls the oldest I found dated to the 1950’s which proves that when older people say “Kids these days” it’s not an admonishment of society today but part of a larger sentence “Kids these days don’t know how to vandalise important heritage sites like we did.”

Following the trip up it was time for a drink in the Cathedral Cafe then a few pints at the Market Tavern.

A bit more:
Durham Tourism office 

Durham Cathedral

Market Tavern

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