Great Britain

Unusual things to do in County Durham as lockdown eases

WITH the end of lockdown in sight, many of you will be eagerly planning your first day out. But where in County Durham can you go to avoid crowds? 

While some changes to Copvid restrictions are set to change next week, the Stay at Home order does not end until March 29. 

It is then when outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed, providing greater flexibility for families and friends to see each other.

On April 12, most outdoor attractions and settings, including zoos, and theme parks, will also reopen although wider social contact rules will apply to prevent indoor mixing between different households.

But many will be looking for off-the-beaten-track days out where crowds are kept to a minimum.

Here are five places to go in County Durham you may not have thought of:

Copley Chimney, Copley

This industrial chimney, built in 1831, looks out of place in the middle of County Durham woodlands today.

This sandstone chimney, now a popular dog-walking spot, was once an important part of the economy in the North Pennines.

It was built for the Gaunless smelt Mill but now stands alone in Gibbsneese Plantation above the River Gaunless, a tributary of the Wear. 

You can still enter the base of the chimney and look up its 115 feet inside.

Deepdale Aqueduct, Barnard Castle

This Grade II listed bridge, built in 1893, has some gorgeous views of the Tees and County Durhan's hills, including of Barnard Castle weir. 

While it may look like any other footbridge, the historic structure was built to carry water pipes across the river from reservoirs in the county to Teesside. 

With its impressive stone turrets at each end, Deepdale Aqueduct reflects both the nearby 12th-century castle and nature reserve. 

Egglestone Abbey, Barnard Castle

Sitting on the upper banks of the River Tees, Egglestone Abbey was a small monastery of Premonstratensian 'white canons'.

Its charming ruins today include much of the 13th-century church and living quarters, with traces of their ingenious toilet drainage system.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, parts of the Abbey were converted into a mansion with nearly all of the monastic features being swept away.

Inkerman Beehive Coke Ovens, Tow Low 

Reclaimed by nature, the remains of seven beehive-shaped coke ovens can be found in Tow Low as part of the Inkerman coke works.

The brick structures were used to convert the coal mined in the region to industrial coke, a relatively clean-burning fuel used in the smelting of iron ore.

Historic England says The Weardale Iron and Coal Company opened the Inkerman colliery in 1853 and immediately began coke production from 20 ovens built at that time. In 1875 the number was increased to 50 ovens built in two rows. 

A nod to County Durham's industrialist past, the historic site can be doubled up with Hedleyhope Fell nature reserve for a full day out. 

'Terris Novalis', Consett

These giant sculptures sit on the site of the Stanhope and Tyne Railway Lineans marks the location of what was once Europe’s largest steelworks.

A tribute to the area's history, the sculptures are some size compared to the tools they represent and are held up with bizarre feet - including a human hand, a horse hoof and a bird foot.

The Terris Novalis is on the Coast to Coast cycle path so it's relatively easy to find. 

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