There are more historic places to visit around Darlington than you may imagine. The town provides an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area. Below are some of the things to do and to see within easy travelling distance of Darlington.
Places to visit in Darlington
West Cemetery self-guided walk
Ideal for a stroll with a bit of added interest, visit Darlington’s largest Victorian cemetery and learn the history behind some of the more famous occupants including a circus performer, playwright and the brother of Charles Dickens.
Head of Steam Darlington Railway Museum
Darlington was the birth place of passenger railways. The Head of Steam has a number of steam trains on display, including Stephenson’s Locomotion.
A full programme of shows and events are available all year round in this newly restored venue, previously called the Civic Theatre. These include drama, comedy, children’s shows, dance and a wide range of music.
Hidden Gems of Darlington
Explore some of Darlington’s less well known sites. Take a walk to an ancient packhorse bridge, discover some of the towns railway heritage or visit a hidden work of art.
The Darlington Brick Train
Blink and you’ll miss it as you flash by on the A66 to the east of Darlington but for a closer look at David Mach’s sculptural celebration of the town’s railway heritage follow signs to the viewing area to the rear of the Morrisons supermarket at Morton Palms.
Crown Street Library
Darlington’s main library in Crown Street, designed by GG Hoskins, is an architectural gem. The building houses the Centre for Local Studies – a must for those interested in local history or family history research, while the Crown Street Gallery features regularly changing exhibitions by local and regional artists.
Tees Cottage Pumping Station
Victorian engineering at its finest is on display during the regular open days at the Tees Cottage Pumping Station. See the huge beam engine in operation and track the development of technology through gas and later electric powered pumps.
The Forum Music Centre
Live music, comedy, a monthly film club and much more at the Forum in Brunswick Street.
Jabberwocky Market Festival
Award-winning pop-up theatre events in Darlington. Events run twice a year, in Spring and Autumn, at venues throughout Darlington.
The Majestic Theatre
Recently restored Art Deco theatre, venue space, bar and lounge in Bondgate.
Shopping in Darlington
Darlington town centre has a good range of independent specialist shops including the Health Food Warehouse in Posthouse Wynd, the Cheese and Wine Shop in Clarks Yard, Leggs fashion clothing in Skinnergate. Grange Road in particular has a good selection of clothing shops for men and women, Drum furnishings and Cooks & Kitchens for high quality kitchen accessories.
Places to visit around Darlington
Croft Circuit, just to the south of Darlington offers a year round programme of car and bike racing. The highlight of the season is the British Touring car weekend in July.
One of the largest and most impressive of English medieval castles, set in magnificent grounds and gardens, around 15 minutes drive from Darlington. Raby Castle hosts numerous events over the summer months including a variety of classic car and commercial vehicle shows.
Archers Jersey Ice Cream Parlour, Walworth
Fine ice cream and a chance to get up close and personal with the Jersey calves on the farm. There is also a 2 mile permissive farmland walk from the parlour to help work off a few calories during your visit.
Landscaped pleasure gardens of the Hardwick estate near Sedgefield, about 13 miles north of Darlington. Recently restored by Durham County Council. Free guided walks every Tuesday afternoon during the summer holidays and regular events throughout the year such as evening bat walks. Telephone 01740 621505 for details.
Very attractive house and gardens, once the country seat of the founder of Maryland, USA. Regular events throughout the year including Torchlight Ghost Tours and Christmas celebrations. Near Scorton, 15 miles south of Darlington.
Thornton Hall Gardens
Among the most spectacular gardens in the area, Thornton Hall is located just outside Darlington on Staindrop Road. Opening days are limited but well worth looking out for if you are in the area during the early summer
The National Railway Museum at Shildon, about 10 miles north of Darlington. Free entry. Locomotion also includes the Timothy Hackworth Victorian and Railway Museum celebrating the railway pioneer and Shildon’s Soho Works.
A beautiful North Yorkshire market town centred around a Norman castle. The Georgian Theatre Royal hosts regular shows throughout the year while the Millgate House Gardens, Green Howards Museum and Richmondshire Museum are all well worth a visit, as is the nearby Easby Abbey which makes a nice riverside walk from the town centre. Richmond lies 12 miles south west of Darlington.
Centred around Auckland Castle, which was until recently the home to the Bishops of Durham, Bishop Auckland is rapidly becoming a major historic and culture centre. The town, which lies 12 miles north of Darlington, is being transformed by the Auckland Project and the philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer. The castle is currently undergoing major restoration and will reopen to house the famous Zurbaran paintings in the surroundings of its historic deer park and walled garden. On summer evenings the Eleven Arches project brings Kynren to the town. This is a spectacular live action show, telling the story of England through a journey of 2000 years with a cast and crew of 1000. Also recently opened is the Mining Art Gallery, soon to be joined by a branch of the Museo del Prado which will focus on Spanish art, and a new Faith Museum and visitor centre for the castle. There are also plans for the future to develop the nearly Roman fort of Binchester as a major visitor attraction.
Durham Cathedral & Durham City
More than 900 years old, Durham cathedral holds the remains of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede. Bill Bryson called it ‘the best Cathedral on planet earth’. In recent years the Hogwarts scenes from the Harry Potter movies have been filmed here. Elsewhere in the city the Botanic Garden, DLI Museum and Oriental Museum are also major visitor attractions within the city. The city also hosts the annual Durham Book Festival in October.
A French chateaux in the heart of Teesdale packed with priceless treasures and works of art. The galleries created by John and Josephine Bowes are unmissable for art lovers. The Silver Swan, which operates at 2pm each day, is a particular favourite with children.
The town of Barnard Castle in which the museum is situated also makes for an excellent day out, with its antique shops, cafes and historic buildings including the ruins of the nearby Egglestone Abbey.
Eggleston Hall Gardens
Excellent gardens just outside Barnard Castle, part of which is a large nursery run by gardening legend Malcolm Hockham of Plantsman’s Corner. There is also a particularly good cafe, a deli selling local produce and local artists studios.
Just half an hour away by train, the historic city of York has something for everyone. The National Railway Museum is here (and it’s free!). Jorvik Viking Centre and Dick Turpin’s Cell at the Castle Museum are also favourites with visitors.
The beautiful Yorkshire Dales are within easy reach. Visitors enjoy the James Herriot and lead mining heritage of the area. There are picturesque market towns such as Hawes and Reeth together with stunning scenery and waterfalls including Hardraw Force and Aysgarth Falls.
North York Moors
Ideal for walking, cycling or just enjoying the scenery. The North York Moors are home to ruined abbeys, a steam railway and the picturesque seaside town of Whitby.
More days out around Darlington
You will find more suggestions on places to visit around Darlington in the ‘days out around Darlington‘ section of our web site. You can also find frequently updated information by following us on Twitter.