Outdoor Adventures around Durham to Enjoy with Grandparents in Tow

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Outdoor Adventures around Durham to enjoy with Grandparents in tow

Today I am sharing a few ideas for outdoor days out in the county of Durham which are perfect for both little ones and grandparents too. There are of course the obvious places like Beamish Museum and Hamsterley Forest but today I want to focus on a few of the lesser-known hidden gems in the area. 

Let me know if you have any favourite days out in Durham that you have enjoyed with your parents, kids and grandparents too. 

Auckland Castle Deer Park 

We recently visited Auckland Castle Deer Park with my mam and think it is perfect for a multi-generation day out.  The Deer Park is part of The Auckland Project and free to visit with no pre-booking required. At the moment, it is open from 7am - 5pm. 

The paths are mostly flat and accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs (I spotted someone with a mobility scooter who seemed to be managing ok), there is seating at various points along the route and you can pick short circular walks to the Deer House (which take around 20 minutes) or longer routes where you can enjoy the wider estate. 

We walked through woodland, along the river, past meadows full of wild flowers and butterflies and the kids enjoyed playing hide and seek with grandma around the exterior or the Deer House before a picnic. We visited on a sunny afternoon and were pretty much the only ones there - perfect for those who are looking for a quieter spot. 

The Deer House within the park is managed by English Heritage for exterior viewing only and it makes a fantastic backdrop for a family picnic (there are a few benches nearby). The parkland can be traced back over 800 years.   

Need to know: 
Parking is available in nearby North Bondgate Car Park in Bishop Auckland DL14 7PG (60p for 2 hours) and public toilets are available in the bus station. The Deer Park is a short walk from the bus station and car park. Dogs are welcome on leads (due to livestock in the area). Free entry, no need to pre-book. Find out more here.   

Ushaw Park & Gardens 

Ushaw was founded over 200 years ago and the estate is one of the best examples of Victorian Gothic architecture in the North East. The estate is just a few miles from Durham City and has over 500 acres of gardens and countryside to explore. 

Families can enjoy a huge variety of flowers, winding paths with lots of space to run about, woodland walks, an old lake and more. I love that you can pick up a picnic basket from the Tearoom and enjoy some treats in the gardens. 

Need to know: 
Use postcode DH7 7DW. Ample free parking (including accessible spots) on site. Ushaw Park and Gardens are open daily from 10am - 5pm, no pre-booking required. Admission charges apply (£5 per adult/ £2 per child). Public transport is available - Scarlett Band bus 52 is direct from Durham Bus Station to Ushaw Drive. 

Dogs are welcome on leads (there are some dog-free areas, please see advice on-site), toilets are open and there is an outdoor cafe. Treasure hunts and scavenger hunts are available to download for younger children. Find out more here.

Low Barnes Nature Reserve 

This nature reserve is one of the region's most important wildlife sites. The site features flat, surfaced terrain and large accessible bird hides which makes it suitable for the whole family to enjoy (including wheelchair and pushchair users).

You can try a few different walks, explore one of the three lakes and streams and keep your eyes peeled for a huge selection of wildlife including otter, fox, roe deer, frogs, owls, dragonflies, newts, stoats and more. 

Need to know:
Use postcode DL14 0AG . Entry to the site is free but a donation of £2.50 is recommended for non-member parking. Visitor centre toilets are open and the on-site cafe is serving takeaway food & drinks from 10am - 4pm. Find out more here. 

Durham City Art Trail 

See Durham in a different light with the Durham City Art Trail. This free self-guided tour is available to enjoy at your own pace and easy to incorporate stops for coffee / ice cream / feeding ducks along the way. 

You can read about the Durham City Art Trail here and use the guidance and co-ordinates provided to discover hidden art around the city including statues and artwork hidden in stone. I think this sounds like a brilliant activity for grandparents to get involved with and help younger ones with their map reading skills. 

Need to know: 
Parking available in Durham City (or use park & ride which we prefer to do). This trail is accessible via public transport (catch a Durham City bus or train). Find out more here. 

Causey Arch

We visited Causey Arch as part of a wider trip with Tanfield Railway (which hopes to re-open late August) for my mam's 50th birthday a few years ago. It is a lovely spot with a replica of an 18th century coal waggon, accessible walking routes, ancient woodland and lots of nature. 

If grandparents can manage a steeper incline, you can walk down to the river too and enjoy splodging and playing pooh sticks on the various wooden bridges. Causey Arch is home to the world's oldest surviving railway bridge and it offers outstanding views.  

Need to know: 
Causey Arch is free to visit with no pre-booking required. There are no public toilets but customer toilets are available in the Causey House Tea Rooms where snacks & drinks are available to purchase  (Thursday-Sunday).  

We visited Causey Arch a few weeks ago, you can read our in-depth review & info here. 

Whitworth Hall Country Park 

We have visited Whitworth Hall Country Park a few times now and it is a lovely spot, especially if you are looking for an animal experience that does not break the bank. 

The wider park remains closed for now, but from 25 July, visitors can hand-feed deer through the fence.  Deer food is available to purchase from the hotel reception for £1.50 per bag and free on-site parking is available. The area is flat and accessible. Picnics are not permitted however the hotel bar serves food and drinks which can be enjoyed at the hotel's outdoor seating. 

Need to know: 
No need to pre-book deer feeding, just turn up.  Postcode: DL16 7QX. Find out more here. 

Let me know your favourite outdoor adventures to enjoy with grandparents in Durham or if you fancy trying any of the spots I have mentioned. 

Discover more of Durham's hidden gems here:  https://www.thisisdurham.com/explore-from-your-door

Please remember to explore Durham's great outdoors responsibly, observe current Government guidelines, and leave no trace. 


  1. This is such a useful article, thank you. My mam often comes on outings with us but her only requirement is really a decent cafe!

  2. Meant to add, Broomhouse Farm is always a winner for us


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