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If you’re planning walks in County Durham, you’ve got some exceptionally beautiful places in store. County Durham stretches from its stunning Heritage Coast on the North Sea right into the heart of the North Pennines to the west.
Fancy stopping by crashing waterfalls as you ramble through a UNESCO Global Geopark? That’s exactly what you can expect as you explore hikes in County Durham’s spectacular western landscapes, whilst the middle of the county is sprawling farmland with plenty of walks as short or as long as you like.
At the far east of the county, explore the diverse grassland habitat of Cassop Vale and stroll the wild and breathtaking cliffs on the heritage coast. From family walks to long-distance treks, County Durham has countless fantastic trails.
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Compared to the size of the county, the coastline is only a tiny part but it offers some of the most stunning walks in County Durham. You can easily explore the incredible undeveloped stretch along the Heritage Coast, a protected area left mostly wild with dunes, cliffs and protected habitats.
Hawthorn Dene is a particularly beautiful valley for walking in and it’s bursting with plants and wildlife for much of the year. Heavily wooded, it’s filled with elm and ash trees and has a rare magnesium limestone meadow. A nature reserve with mixed-terrain trails, keep a lookout for the many species of bird that live here, including treecreepers and the great spotted woodpecker.
With heathlands, marshes, aqueducts and rocky points, some of the best hiking trails in County Durham are right on the coast.
The Pennines are a chain of hills stretching from the Peak District all the way up through the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the Tyne Gap. Much of the AONB falls within County Durham and hiking in this dramatic landscape is one of the biggest reasons hikers fall in love with the area.
The landscape in this rugged place is one of great diversity. On your hikes in County Durham’s most untamed region, you’ll cross hay meadows, traverse steep valleys, follow upland rivers and marvel at one of England’s most impressive waterfalls.
High Force waterfall is very much a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin sort of place. Hike up to the edge to see the River Tees plunge 70 feet (21 m), an exhilarating sight complete with a backdrop of jagged rock. You’ll find the waterfall in Forest-in-Teesdale although you’ll hear it before you see it. If the river is particularly full, the waterfall splits and crashes down both sides of the cliff.
The North Pennines isn’t only a place of astounding landscapes, it’s also home to exceptionally rare plants and a bustling community of animals. Both red squirrels and otters live within the area and the vast majority of the country’s black grouse population is resident too.
As you explore the North Pennines, you’ll come across upland heath and blanket bog, hugely important habitats and fascinating landscapes in themselves. It’s also the home of rare alpine plants. Whether you’ve got a keen eye for unusual plant life or not, when you enjoy walks in this area, you’ll be endlessly rewarded by beautiful sights.
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