Whether you want to explore the city or the country enjoying a self catering cottage holiday in Durham is the best way to experience the County. The heart of County Durham lies in the city of Durham, where the magnificent cathedral overlooking the calm waters of the River Wear, and the University buildings make for an atmosphere both historically rich and architecturally perfect. Durham's Castle and Cathedral rise above the city’s cobbled streets, where trendy independent boutiques and craft shops do battle with the High Street brands. Culture abound from the Durham Miners Gala in the height of summer to the wonderful programme of theatre and concerts to be found at the Gala Theatre.

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West House is an 18th century, stone-built, semi-detached rural cottage set among beautiful grounds near Middleton-in-Teesdale, in the Yorkshire Dales. The traditional exterior houses a contemporary interior with touches of yesteryear, an open fire, and spectacular views from all vantage points.

Visit the huge 14th Century Raby Castle and the equally historic Auckland Castle, the principal residence of the Bishop’s of Durham. or in summer, enjoy a day or two of First Class County and International cricket at the Emirates International Cricket Ground.

Durham’s Heritage coastline is an undiscovered gem; miles of empty sandy beaches backed by flower-filled sand dunes offer spectacular North sea views. or rugged cliffs. Visit Seaham, a lively seaside resort with beaches and a fishing harbour or Dalton Park - acres of coastal parkland reclaimed from a colliery spoil.

Why not tie in a holiday in Durham with a festival to guarantee a truly memorable experience? Events worth a visit in Durham include the Great North Festival of Transport at the Beamish Open Air Museum and the Bishop Auckland Food Festival, both held every year in April. In July it is the turn of the Durham Brass International Festival followed in August by the Durham Streets Summer Festival when street musicians and theatre performers from across the Globe descend on the city for a week in August to provide a fascinating spectacle of entertainment.

Away from the city, September is when the North Pennine’s walking festival takes place followed by a Book Festival in October and an appropriately seasonal Christmas Festival in December.