Durham on St Patrick’s Day

After a quiet and undisturbed night in the pub carpark we leave Barnard Castle mid morning and head to Durham. The plan is to visit Crook Hall Gardens first as we aren’t supposed to land at the campsite until 2 pm.

Little do we realise that these NT gardens are in the middle of Durham itself. We endure a stressful couple of circles through steep and very narrow and busy roads right in the centre of the city before giving up and heading for the campsite.

Arrive at Strawberry Hill Farm campsite by midday having missed the entrance first time so we have to loop an extra mile and a half to get back to the campsite!

It’s next to a working sheep farm so there’s loads of sheep grazing on a field next to the site. The reception doubles as a cafe and sells lots of yummy cakes and scones so I have to buy a scone. Only one though as T is on his lent kick and has given up all things delicious.

We then proceed to make a hash of getting onto our pitch getting stuck in the mud at the side of the hardstanding but T manages to wiggle forward and the campsite owner let’s us move to a bigger pitch with easier access. It’s been quite the start to the day……

After lunch and an afternoon of of reading and blogging and T watching the Cheltenham festival after happily sorting the TV out, we take the bus into Durham around 4pm. Of course this isn’t straight forward. The walk to the bus stop is only 6 minutes. We arrive early and the bus is late. We’d checked the weather and it wasn’t supposed to rain. So of course the heavens opened and it rained and hailed so we dripped onto the bus. First time use of T’s bus pass though so saved him £7.70! 

Once in Durham went into the first pub we could find so I could attempt to dry my very wet jacket with the hand dryers. Took a while but managed it. The pub was rammed so we didn’t stop for a drink.

We wander around Durham for a bit taking photos of the castle and cathedral in the distance and the river. T spots a bar down a back alley advertising real ale. A terrible dingy place run by a guy who makes his own beer. I enjoy a prosecco in a plastic wine glass and we sit outside by the bins.

Our next stop is the Shakespeare pub which we get to via the steep back alleys and steps that seem to be everywhere. The pub reminds me of the Carnarvon Castle in Liverpool city centre. We get chatting to a  local couple who also have relatives in our neck of the woods and T gets to drink his favourite beer.

The Swan and 3 Cygnets pub is next, a Sam Smith pub recommended by my friend Anne whose son attended Durham university. It’s only £2.60 for two halves and is full of students.

Time to eat we think and have a plate of noodles and rice sitting in the window of a busy noodle bar. Cheap and tasty.

As it’s St Patrick’s Day we go to the nearest Irish pub called Katie O’Brien’s. It’s packed and noisy with live music. We find a couple of seats in the corner and enjoy the music, energy and people watching and T enjoys a pint of the black stuff. A lively fun end to our evening.

Back to the bus stop we see the cathedral lit up in the distance. Time for a final half in the Three Bridges pub where I dried my coat. It’s much quieter now. We manage to recognise our bus stop coming up in the dark and make it back to the van with the help of a torch. Red nose day and Gogglebox entertain us. The second half of the day is much more successful than the first half!


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