Durham is well known for its world-class education, rich history, and stunning architecture. However, one equally fantastic feature that I got to experience as a student in Durham is its highly distinctive seasons. Coming from Hong Kong, which is a subtropical location, I was accustomed to a climate that consisted of hot and humid summers, and mild winters with no snow. Studying at Durham has thus given me the opportunity to experience how each season is described in textbooks and movies: a blossoming spring, a warm summer, a colourful autumn, and a frosty winter. Each season has its own unique charm and experiencing them all can be a real treat.
As the cold winter months come to an end, the city begins to come alive with the arrival of spring. In contrast to the humid and stuffy spring experienced in the tropics which is characterised by condensation on every surface and the relentless growth of mould, the trees and flowers start to bloom, and the city is awash with colour. This is the perfect time to explore the city’s many parks and gardens, such as the Botanic Garden, the Old Durham Gardens, or Palace Green, where you can admire the beautiful blooming of cherry blossoms. It is also the perfect time for a picnic on the banks of the River Wear, whether it be under the willow tree under Prebends bridge or near the Racecourse.
The summer months in Durham are warm and pleasant (discounting the heat waves), making it an ideal time to explore the city and its surrounding countryside. You can row along the River Wear or climb the iconic Durham Cathedral tower for stunning views of the city. There is also the Durham Regatta, an annual rowing competition that originally started as a parade along the River Wear to celebrate Wellington’s victory over Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo, for anyone to spectate or participate.
If you are looking to get out of the city for a day, there are plenty of nearby attractions. One popular destination is Lindisfarne, an island off the coast of Northumberland. This site is home to the ruins of an ancient monastery and has a fascinating history, including its connection to St. Cuthbert, the patron Saint of Durham. If you are an archaeology student or someone that is fascinated by historical site excavations, be sure to look out for the annual summer Lindisfarne excavation, organised by the Archaeology department.
Another great day trip is to Beamish Museum, an open-air living museum located just outside of Chester-le-Street. This museum provides a fascinating insight into life in the North of England during the 19th and early 20th centuries, with costumed staff and authentic buildings and exhibits. Take a ride on a vintage tram or explore the old-fashioned shops and homes.
As the leaves start to change colour, Durham’s parks and forests turn into a breathtaking sea of sunset hues. This is the perfect time to enjoy a brisk walk in Wharton Park or the recreation grounds in Aykley Heads. Personally, I love having fun in the abundance of fallen leaves. This includes gathering them into a pile and jumping into the soft, rustling leaves, or tossing them into the air and delighting in the gentle, fluttering descent.
The winter months in Durham are chilly, but the city is still full of life and charm. The Christmas market that takes place in Palace Green and the cloisters of the Durham Cathedral is a must-visit with its twinkling lights, festive music, and delicious food and drink. Seeing the magnificent architecture covered in white, being able to sledge down slopes and making snow angels near the hill colleges are just awe-inspiring experiences.
In conclusion, Durham’s four distinct seasons offer a range of sights to behold for students. From enjoying the blooming flowers in spring to the crisp leaves of autumn, there is always something new to explore and enjoy in this charming city. So, be sure to take the time to experience all the seasons in Durham to truly appreciate its beauty and charm.
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