Colleges of Durham

This walk follows some of the oldest and most historic streets in the city and passes all 17 Durham University Colleges as well as its visitor attractions. Throughout the walk are many visitas of the castle, cathedral and River Wear.

Technical sheet
No. 28821732
A Durham walk posted on 18/11/22 by sarahhcfe. Update : 16/01/23
Calculated time Calculated time: 2h30[?]
Distance Distance : 7.82 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 101 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 98 m
Highest point Highest point : 103 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 37 m
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Durham
Starting point Starting point : N 54.761231° / W 1.581072°
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Download : PDF / Print - GPX track


Start : Howlands Car Park ticket office (nearby postcode DH1 3TQ)

(D/A) From the Howlands Car Park ticket office exit onto South Road (A177) and cross the road via the pedestrian crossing. Turn left and follow the new road 'The Drive' to South College on your left. Follow the road until you reach the circular 'Hub' building. Turn right (North-West-North) and continue past John Snow College. At the end of the access road continue on the footpath to Mill Hill Lane.

Turn right (East) into Mill Hill Lane and then turn left into St Aidan's College, also signposted the Lindisfarne Centre. Follow the access road through the car park and then continue on the footpath which heads in a Northerly direction, cross Windmill Hill and go through the gate, cross the field and go up the steps to Potters Bank. For a good view of Durham turn right and walk along Windmill Hill to the benches then return to the gate.

''Alternative Accessible Route: Continue walking along Mill Hill Lane and turn left onto Elvet Hill Road. At the bottom turn left onto Potter's Bank. This route involves more inclines than the original route but misses the section across the field.
(1) Turn left and walk up Potters Bank for about 200m then cross the road and turn right (North) into Westhouse Avenue. Cross the road and follow the footpath in a Northerly direction until you reach a footpath to your left. Turn left (West) into Clay Lane and follow this path to Ustinov College (previously Neville's Cross College). Turn right into Faraday Court (North) and at the end of the college building turn right onto the footpath (East). This path will rejoin Clay Lane and continue along the back of Archery Rise and the Tennis Club.

(2) Clay Lane will end at Durham School. Turn left onto Margery Lane. Look across the allotments for a good view of the Cathedral. At the traffic lights turn right onto Crossgate (North-East). Walk down Crossgate passing the Elm Tree and Angel pubs. The road becomes very steep here, continue down past St Margaret's Church. At the Fighting Cocks pub, turn right.

Alternative Accessible Route: To avoid the steep incline of Crossgate, continue straight across at the traffic lights and follow the more gentle incline to the top of North Road. Here you will have a good view of the Viaduct. Turn right and continue down North Road to the Fighting Cocks pub.

Cross Framwellgate Bridge, looking to your right for another view of the Castle and Cathedral.

(3) Walk up Silver Street, one of the main shopping streets in the city centre to the Market Place. Continue past St Nicolas' Church and cross the bridge over Leazes Road (A690). To your left is Millenium Place, a modern development of restaurants, theatre and library. Continue up Claypath which is fairly steep. Retail units give way to residential properties.

At the top of the hill Claypath becomes Gilesgate. Look to your right for the footbridge over Leazes Road (A690). Turn left at the end of the bridge and walk back towards the city centre. The College of St Hild and St Bede will be on your left.

Alternative Accessible Route: To avoid the steep climb up Claypath, from St Nicolas' Church turn right down the road to the entrance of the Prince Bishops' Car Park, cross New Elvet Bridge by the roundabout and take the tarmac footpath towards the river bank. This will meet the route at Baths Bridge.

(4) Take the pedestrian Pelaw Leazes Lane to the River Wear and cross Baths Bridge. Turn right past the old baths and then turn left into Territorial Lane. At the end of the street turn right into Old Elvet. Cross the junction at the pedestrian crossing and continue onto Elvet Bridge.

At the end of the bridge, go up the Magdalene Steps and turn left into Sadler Street. Walk up the hill towards the Cathedral taking the right fork into Owengate and onto Palace Green where University College is located in the castle.

(5) From the Palace Green turn left down Dun Cow Lane and then turn right into North Bailey. Hatfield College is to your left, you may want to walk the short distance back along North Bailey to view this college. Continue to walk along North Bailey (South-West) into South Bailey passing St Chad's College, St John's College and St Cuthbert's Society before reaching the Watergate, the last surviving gate in the city walls.

(6) Cross Prebends Bridge and turn left at Prebends Cottage and walk up the lane to Quarryheads Lane. Cross the road and walk towards the roundabout. Cross the roundabout continuing along Quarryheads Lane. You will pass 3 large houses on your right and then reach a semicircular footpath.

(7) Turn right (South) here and walk up the path walk around the building (either to the left or right), go up the steps or follow the access road and then turn right at the main building of St Mary's College. Walk up the main tree-lined driveway (West) to Elvet Hill Road.

Turn left (South) and walk past Trevelyan College. Turn left into the access road of Trevelyan College and follow the footpath around the Northern edge of the car park to South Road (A177).

(8) Cross the road using the pedestrian crossing and then continue into Hollingside Lane passing Grey College on your left and Collingwood College on your right. Follow the road around to the Botanical Gardens (charge applies).

Walk down through the Botanical Gardens to the western exit. Here you will see the ponds of Van Mildert College across the road to your right and Josephine Butler College and Stephenson College to your left across the car park (D/A).

Alternative Route: If you do not wish to visit the Botanic Gardens, turn right after the pedestrian crossing and walk directly back to Howlands Park and Ride (D/A).

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 84 m - Howlands Park and Ride
1 : km 1.04 - alt. 93 m - Potters Bank
2 : km 2.19 - alt. 78 m - Margery Lane/Durham School
3 : km 3.06 - alt. 43 m - Framwellgate Bridge/Silver Street
4 : km 4.07 - alt. 54 m - Leazes Road/Pelaw Leazes Lane
5 : km 5.01 - alt. 69 m - Palace Green/Cathedral
6 : km 5.59 - alt. 45 m - Prebends Bridge
7 : km 6.08 - alt. 65 m - Quarryheads Lane/St Mary's College
8 : km 6.91 - alt. 90 m - South Road/Hollingside Lane
D/A : km 7.82 - alt. 83 m - Howlands Park and Ride

Useful Information

Start : Howlands Car Park ticket office (nearby postcode DH1 3TQ)

Transport: Park in Howlands Park and Ride car park. You can also park in the city centre car parks as this is a circular walk and begin and end your walk at Millenium Square or at Framwellgate Bridge(3) All buses stop either at North Road or Leazes Road underpass enabling the walk to begin and end at (3). There are bus stops opposite Van Mildert and the Park and Ride served by Arriva service 6.

Facilities: There are toilets at Howland's Park and Ride. There are no more facilities until you reach the Angel and Elm Tree pubs. Once you reach the city centre there are toilets in the Indoor Market, library, theatre and an abundance of takeways, cafes and restaurants around Millennium Square, Elvet Bridge and the Market Place. There is also a cafe at the Botanical Gardens at the end of the walk.

Accessibility: The majority of this route is on paved surfaces, but there is one section across a field and there are steps and extremely steep hills. There are many benches and opportunities to stop and rest along the way. There are also many tourist attractions so this route can be modified.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

Although this walk should be completed in 2.5-3 hours, there is so much to do and see that this could easily be turned into a full day walk with multiple stops.

  • Enjoy the university grounds. Much of the university is open access and many public footpaths are routed near the college and departmental buildings.The area around South Road and Quarryheads Lane is pretty and worth wandering (6), (7) and (8).
  • Durham Castle - Dating back to the 11th Century, this stunning castle was once home to the Prince Bishops of Durham. This is now home to University College, tours can be organised, further information can be found here (5).
  • Durham Cathedral - This is a fantastic example of Norman Architecture and houses the Open Treasure collection (5)
  • Palace Green Library/Archaeology Museum - This building hosts a number of activities and exhibitions as well as housing special collections, details of the Palace Green Library can be found here and the Archaeology Museum here (5).
  • Durham Heritage Centre - This small museum is only open during the summer months and traces the history of Durham (5).
  • Oriental Museum - A little gem of a museum covering far, middle and near east regions with collections from China, Japan and Egypt (7)
  • Botanical Gardens - Relax at the end of the walk with views across the gardens (8).

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