Best bird watching trails in Durham, England

311 Reviews
Explore the most popular bird watching trails in Durham with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Map of bird watching trails in Durham, England
Top trails (13)
#1 - Teesdale Three Waterfalls
North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
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Length: 5.0 mi • Est. 2 h 1 m
A circular walk close to Middleton-in-Teesdale in County Durham, within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The walking route begins from the Bowless Visitor Centre and follows a route to visit three beautiful waterfalls. The first is Summerhill Force on Bow Lee Beck, whilst the second and third are both on the River Tees, Low Force and High Force. As if these stunning waterfalls are not enough, you will also enjoy a pretty riverside section of the Pennine Way with views across flower-rich moorlands, plant-rich wooded valley slopes and upland pastures along the way. The walk includes several climbs and descents throughout, including several steep flights of stone steps. The paths are a mixture of stone paths and tracks, rocky uneven paths (which can be slippery when wet) and grass field paths (which can get muddy). The outward leg to reach High Force includes gates, footbridges and steps and crosses just one sheep pasture (with no stiles and with all other pastures being fenced away from your path). The return leg crosses two stiles (one stone stile and one wooden stile with wire fence surround, so dogs would need a lift over) and also crosses several livestock pastures. These pastures hold mainly sheep with a handful of cattle in a couple of them – the cattle seems very relaxed with dogs, but if you prefer to avoid the stiles and cattle you can simply retrace your outward route for the return leg instead. The access path for High Force is a private path with an entrance fee (£1.50 for adults and 50p for children) and is open 10am-4pm with dogs on leads welcome, but you can exclude this part of the route if you prefer not to pay. Allow 2.5 hours. Show more
#2 - Beamish Park and Causey Arch
Stanley, Durham, England
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Length: 4.0 mi • Est. 2 h 4 m
A circular walk from the small village of Causey in County Durham. The walk follows farm tracks and local lanes to reach the nearby woodland within Beamish Park before crossing open countryside to reach the beautiful gorge with Causey Burn flowing at its base. Here you will have chance to explore some of Britain's most important industrial heritage, visiting Causey Arch, the oldest surviving single arch railway bridge. The walk follows a mixture of lanes, tracks and paths through woodland and fields. Whilst some of the paths are surfaced with stone, others can get fairly muddy and some of the fenced field-side paths can also get overgrown in the summer. Good boots and long trousers are a must. There are a couple of steady climbs and descents plus an optional steeper section into the gorge bottom. There are several sections of walking along roads and, whilst the main roads have pavements, the smaller roads do not, so take care of traffic at these points. You will need to negotiate five stiles (all of which have open fence surrounds for dogs to pass through) plus a number of flights of steps and a few wooden footbridges. Approximate time 2 hours.Show more
#3 - Hawthorne Hive Trail
Seaham, Durham, England
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Length: 3.1 mi • Est. 1 h 28 m
#4 - Seaham and Beacon Point via Durham Coastal Path
Seaham, Durham, England
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Length: 3.9 mi • Est. 1 h 51 m
A circular coastal walk close to the town of Seaham in County Durham. The walk begins just south of the town at Nose’s Point, once the site of a colliery but now a beautiful nature reserve, and takes in a beautiful stretch of the Durham Heritage Coast. You will enjoy a range of geological features including a couple of lovely beaches, flower-rich chalk grasslands, a chalk sea stack and a deep woodland gorge. Within the woodland gorge you will enjoy a fine view of an impressive viaduct and the remains of old lime kilns. There is plenty of wildlife to enjoy along the way including sea birds on the cliffs and deer, woodpeckers and tree creepers within the woodland. The walk has several steady gradients throughout plus a couple of short steeper sections. If follows a mixture of cliff-edge paths (so take care with children and dogs), grass meadow paths and woodland paths. Some parts can become muddy and some narrow sections that can be a little overgrown. You will need to negotiate a couple of kissing gates and some flights of steps but there are no stiles or livestock on route. Dogs are welcome on the route and the beaches throughout the year. Allow 2 hours.Show more
#5 - High Force
North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
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Length: 4.1 mi • Est. 1 h 54 m
#6 - Baldersdale Reservoirs and Moorland
North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
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Length: 5.7 mi • Est. 2 h 50 m
A circular walk in the area of Baldersdale, just north of Barnard Castle in County Durham, within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The walk leads you on a journey to discover the gems of this beautiful valley, including the River Balder which flows through three large reservoirs here – Balderhead Reservoir, Blackton Reservoir and Hury Reservoir, as well as the flower-rich meadows and the wild terrain of Cotherstone Moor. The rich habitats are home to a wide variety of birds and the vistas are truly beautiful. The walk includes several climbs and descents throughout. It follows a mixture of tarmac access lanes, grass and stone tracks and paths through grass meadows and pastures (some of which can be uneven and muddy). You will need to negotiate several gates and a few footbridges. One wooden footbridge has wooden stiles at each end (but there is an alternative ford in the narrow stream which has stepping stones) and you will also need to negotiate a couple of stone stiles as you pass alongside cattle grids (these should be easy enough for most dogs). You will be sharing the paths with free-roaming sheep for almost the entire length of the walk and you will also cross at least two pastures that are likely to be holding cattle. There are no facilities on route but there are picnic benches in the parking area at the start. Allow 3 hours.Show more
#7 - Sunderland Bridge to Durham
Durham, Durham, England
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Length: 11.3 mi • Est. 5 h 42 m
#8 - Rookhope and the Lead Mines
North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
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Length: 4.8 mi • Est. 2 h 24 m
A circular walk from the village of Rookhope in County Durham. The walking route explores this beautiful area of Weardale in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) taking in a mixture of high moorland, rich flower meadows and grass pastures. There is plenty of wildlife to enjoy including ground-nesting birds such as snipe and lapwing. Along the way you will discover the local rocky stream, Rookhope Burn, as well as many stone remnants of the lead mining industry that dominated this area in the 1700s and 1800s. The walk has several climbs and descents including a couple of quite steep sections. The ground is generally rough moorland which can be muddy at times and is very challenging and uneven underfoot. You will also follow a few stone tracks and a quiet country lane. You will be sharing many of the pastures with both sheep and cattle. You will need to negotiate a couple of narrow footbridges, some gates, one kissing gate plus 12 stiles. The stiles are a mixture of stone stiles (within stone walls), fence stiles and one low ladder stile (see Gallery image) – at least 6 of the stiles have enclosed fence surrounds so dogs would need a lift over them. In terms of facilities, the village of Rookhope (which you pass through towards the end) has a post office, pub and public toilets. Allow 2.5 hours.Show more
#9 - Washington to South Shields to Sunderland MTB Route
Chester Le Street, Durham, England
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Length: 32.9 mi
#10 - Blackhall Rocks Circular
Blackhall Rocks
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Length: 2.6 mi • Est. 1 h 4 m
Enjoy a nice hike at Blackhall Rocks on the Durham coast and be mesmerised by the stunning views. Blackhall Rocks is suitable for walkers and wheelchair users and has a circular easy access route which is gently undulating with one short steep section. This route has a 2m wide, sealed surface and has seats at regular intervals. Paths and tracks throughout the rest of the site can be narrow and are made of a mixture of hardened surface with some large stones, pot holes and bare earth. After you have enjoyed the view from the top, step down to a beautiful deserted and clean beach, enjoy the wind, sunshine and the wildlife. The coast has one of the highest densities of breeding skylarks in Durham and the vast areas of wildflower rich meadows and grasslands are ideal for bird- watching. Show more
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