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Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover or looking for something to get your adrenaline racing, Durham Tees Valley is a brilliant place for a day out. The birth of the railways is synonymous with Durham Tees Valley. The Head of Steam museum in Darlington is housed in North Road station which was built for the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which in 1825 became the world’s first passenger railway. It also contains the original George Stephenson-designed Locomotion No. 1 which hauled the 38 carriages containing some 700 people to Stockton.
Locomotion, The National Railway Museum at Shildon, is free and stages a number of family activities and exhibitions throughout the year. It was from here Locomotion departed on its historic journey and the site contains the modest home of early railway pioneer, Timothy Hackworth, who established his Engine Works there. The Shildon museum is undergoing a £4.5m redevelopment and Locomotion No. 1 is set to move from the Darlington museum to the venue in 2021 when the work is complete.
The area’s proud agricultural and industrial heritage is brought to life in style at Beamish: The Living Museum of the North. The large open air venue tells the story of the North East in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s. Around 750,000 people attend the museum every year, highlighting its cultural importance and attraction. Many of its historic buildings were brought to the 300-acre site brick by brick and painstakingly reconstructed.
Killhope, The North of England Lead Mining Museum in Upper Weardale, is Britain’s best-preserved lead mining site and offers an unforgettable guided mine tour as well as allowing visitors to experience the life and work of the area’s lead mining families. Another important aspect of the area’s history is brought to life at The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool which recreates an 18th-century seaport during the era of Lord Nelson and Napoleon. At the centre of the historic quayside is HMS Trincomalee, Britain’s oldest floating warship, commissioned under Nelson and launched in India in 1817.
Tees Barrage Way, Stockton-on-Tees TS18 2QW
Situated on a small peninsula dividing the River Tees, Air Trail Tees Barrage is the biggest of its kind in the UK, reaching an impressive 18 meters – it’s the same height as four double decker buses! Incorporated, are two zip lines that whizz explorers the full length of the structure, the only ones in the world outside of the US. Plus, there’s also Air Tykes, a smaller version of Air Trail that allows mini explorers who aren’t tall enough to have their own adventure. Visit website
Regional Resource Centre, Beamish DH9 0RG
Experience amazing sights, sounds, smells and delicious tastes as the past comes to life. Beamish Museum is unique – the objects aren’t locked away in glass cases, this is hands-on history. Step into the past and explore the 350-acre site, taste traditional food from a coal-fired range, hop on board the trams and steam train, play schoolyard games together and pop into the Co-op shops. Visit website
Hall Hill Farm, Lanchester, Durham DH7 0TA
Set in the beautiful rolling hills of County Durham, Hall Hill Farm is multi-award winning mixed farm of 290 hectares – a great day out for children and schools with loads of great things to do and see. At the farm you can feed the lambs, ride a donkey, cuddle a rabbit, enjoy a game of crazy golf, take a trip on the tractor and trailer, visit the tearoom and much, much more. Visit website
Maritime Avenue, Hartlepool TS24 0XZ
The National Museum of the Royal Navy takes you on a fascinating journey through time, set in an authentically-created historic quayside of the 1800s. Experience Fighting Ships, a powerful insight into the tough lives of sailors from around the time of Admiral Lord Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar. Learn how they were press ganged and see what life was like on board HMS Trincomalee. Feel the firepower of guns from the era, with live demonstrations and re-enactments taking place around the quayside. Visit website
Tees Barrage, Tees Barrage Way, Stockton-on-Tees TS18 2QW
Tees Barrage International White Water Centre is a centre of activity and a top place to go in the North East for outdoor adventure and is perfect for days out with family and friends. Enjoy a variety of activities including white water rafting, family rafting, bell boating, kayaking, raft building, powerboat trips and stand-up paddleboarding plus there’s lots of walking and cycling routes. Visit website
Durham Tees Valley restaurants and cafes
Durham Tees Valley shopping
Durham Tees Valley nightlife venues
Durham Tees Valley cultural attractions
Image credits: ©Beamish Museum; Dave Cooil/Right Click Studios/Tees Active; Hall Hill Farm; NMRN Photography