Yesterday I visited Durham for the day. Prior to university I was unfamiliar with this quaint city. I knew little about what the city had to offer apart from a Russell Group university. Personally, I had my heart set on moving to a huge city for university whether that was Newcastle, London or Brighton. Consequently, I had not even ventured as far to see the university campus on an open day. However, after hearing so much about the city from my flat mates and course mates I decided to visit earlier this year. I wanted to understand what was so appealing about the city. The moment I pulled out my phone to scroll through train prices I realised why so many Newcastle students flood to Durham for a day trip. It is SO affordable. It is rare you can go anywhere on a train for less than £5 so I was pretty shocked to see that you could buy a return train ticket for just £4.30. After discovering how inexpensive a train ticket to Durham was, I have visited numerous times throughout the year. The last time I visited was in May. My boyfriend and I had planned to roam through the botanical gardens in the sunshine and binge on some buttermilk pancakes, although we had not planned for torrential rain. Therefore, some of our plans got pushed back & thankfully the sun was shining all day yesterday so we managed to make the journey once more.
After getting the late morning train we wandered over the bridge into the city. Durham’s architecture provides an amazing back drop, so I had a cheeky photoshoot beside the river. I then charged up the steep streets towards a coffee shop I had walked by on my previous visits. I had noticed the rustic interior and caught a glimpse of some hanging baskets, so I knew it was my type of coffee shop. We walked in at prime time so understandably it was pretty chaotic. A waitress told us that the electricity had cut out, so a coffee was out of the question, but I didn’t mind as the only thing I fancied after trekking up the hill was a glass of Fentimans elderflower. I spent the next forty minutes looking around the room at the plant pots, vases of sunflowers and the stacks of pancakes emerging from the kitchen. I LOVED this coffee shop. I know that if it was in Newcastle, I would study there ALL the time.
Next we made the 25-minute walk to Durham University’s botanical gardens. The walk was not too long although there was a lot of uphill power walking involved on the journey there. When we arrived, I was really surprised to discover it was only £1.50 for students to visit. I spent the next few hours exploring different greenhouses that had everything from exotic plants to tarantulas. I had not visited a botanical garden since I was in primary school and now I am obsessed with house plants I can appreciate it so much more. After venturing through fields and woods we returned to the tiny café and gift shop. The café seemed a little bit expensive, but the gift shop was so affordable. I picked up a little wooden decoration for just £1 in the shape of a watering can for my Mum which I am sure she will love. I cannot recommend visiting the botanical gardens enough. I much prefer doing outdoor activities when I travel to different cities, so it was great to walk through the gardens and enjoy the last few weeks of sunshine before the autumnal weather kicks in.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the bookstores and market stalls around the city. Even though Durham is quite a small city there is always a new coffee shop or restaurant you can visit the next time you come. I cannot wait to see this city in December when all the festive decorations and fairy lights are pinned in place. I will definitely be returning this winter to see what Durham’s Christmas market looks like, however in the meantime if you are ever in the North-East and have a spare day in your diary then I suggest you venture over to wander through the streets of Durham.