Outdoor adventures in Durham and Tees Valley

By Kingfisher Visitor Guides

Ready for fun in the great outdoors? Framed by spectacular landscapes from the country to the sea, world-class attractions and activities await nature lovers in Durham and Tees Valley.


Enjoy the best of all worlds with city perks on the doorstep of glorious nature in Durham. First up, there’s Durham University’s 10-hectare Botanic Garden. Each season brings new scenes of colour and adventure with woodlands and glasshouses showcasing plants from across the globe. For wonderful photo opportunities and sightseeing in the fresh air, take a stroll around the city’s the riverbanks or hire a rowboat.

Durham University Botanic Garden

Enjoy a scenic view at Durham University Botanic Garden

The Durham Riverside Walk starts near Durham Castle. Follow the path to the stone-arched Prebends Bridge, Pelaw Wood, Old Durham Gardens and the Houghall Discovery trail. For city sights with your riverside views, take the Durham Peninsular Walk from Market Place. Allow at least a day to let your feet take the lead around this atmospheric city. And, don’t worry about drink stops. You’ll find plenty of alfresco dining terraces to replenish your energy levels with scrumptious dishes and cold beer.


On days out in Stockton, don’t miss out on a visit to Wynyard Woodland Park near Thorpe Thewles. The former railway line now serves as a scenic route for walkers and cyclists. Linked paths cross through Thorpe Wood Local Nature Reserve and the wildflower-filled Pickard Meadows. After meandering about, pop into the planetarium and let the kids loose at the woodland adventure play area.

Get happily lost among the historic gardens at Wynyard Hall, with around 3,000 David Austen roses and wildlife to spot, including deer, squirrels and butterflies. Speaking of which, Preston Park Museum and Grounds features Butterfly World, where you’ll wander through a tropical rainforest teeming with colourful winged creatures.

In the mood for some serious thrills? Make a beeline for Tees Barrage International White Water Centre. Get your heart pumping with white water kayaking and powerboating or relax while sailing and canoeing. Then, there’s Air Trail Tees Barrage, a high ropes adventure course with wobbly bridges, crazy cargo nets and zip lines to whizz you across the River Tees.

Get happily lost among the historic gardens at Wynyard Hall, with around 3,000 David Austen roses and wildlife to spot, including deer, squirrels and butterflies

Pack your binoculars for bird watching in the Saltholme Nature Reserve, with wetlands crisscrossed by accessible trails for everyone. Spring and summer invite sand martins and black-headed gulls. Wildfowl graze on the grasslands during autumn and winter, while starlings roost in reed beds. You’ll find screens to get up close to birdlife, along with a visitor’s centre and children’s play area.

Redcar & Cleveland

From fish and chips with your feet in the sand to hiking leafy forest paths, Redcar & Cleveland is a region that’s made for outdoor lovers. Catch a wave or learn how to surf at Saltburn, then get a bird’s eye view of the sea on the Saltburn Cliff Tramway. It’s the oldest water-balanced lift in Britain and disembarks along the Victorian Pier.

Saltburn Cliff Lift

Get a fantastic view of the pier from Saltburns Cliff Lift

More sweeping views await from the outdoor terrace at The Redcar Beacon, a vertical pier with a 360-degree view of the seafront and beyond. For a change of scenery, pack your walking shoes for a day in the lush Guisborough Forest. Start at the Walkway Visitor Centre and venture onto cycling and hiking routes. Explore further to find a sculpture trail, an orienteering course and children’s play areas.

Hamsterley Forest

County Durham’s largest forest is a serene haven for getting back to nature, however, it’s also a fantastic adventure playground. The stunning woodlands stretch along a sheltered valley and hide a network of trails for walking and horse riding. Carve up around 33 miles of marked trails for mountain bikes and follow the Gruffalo Spotters trail with an app to help spot woodland creatures. A café provides sit-in dining or takeaway for picnics.

Read more

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Top 10 things to do in Durham and Tees Valley

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Image credits: ©Dave Cooil/Tees Barrage International White Water Centre; drhfoto/stock.adobe.com; Durham University; Mike Nicholas/North York Moors National Park Authority; Wynyard Hall

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