We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Change of plans: Durham instead of York?

Milan, Italy
Level Contributor
1,073 posts
12 reviews
Save Topic
Change of plans: Durham instead of York?

Hi all,

a couple of days ago I booked train tickets for a day trip from London to York on 16th June 2011 (Advance Fares - cheapish but non-refundable!).

I've just seen on York Minster's website, though, that on that day the Minster will be apparently closed to sightseeing:

www.yorkminster.org/calendar/16-06-2011/

I'm not totally clear about what the website means, but I guess it is for the whole day ... and the Minster was the main reason for my visit to York!!

If, as I fear, that means I'll be unable to visit the Minster inside, I'm trying to figure out a possible plan B.

I am thinking I may save York for another occasion (no problem, I come to the UK every year) and buy additional train tickets from York to Durham and spend the day there: I wouldn't even have to change trains.

That would leave me with a little over 5 hours in Durham between trains, which I'm assuming would be enough for a visit to the Cathedral, a light lunch or a cream tea and a visit to the castle, plus a stroll along the riverfront.

Any opinions on this? Does it sound like a good choice?

I'm posting this same question on the London and York forums as well, for more visibility.

Thanks

Denver, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Pecs, Budapest
Level Contributor
4,695 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Change of plans: Durham instead of York?

It would indeed.

Yhe Castle is adjacent to the Cathedral. You won't be able to go inside, as it is now student residences for studets at Durham U. No idea where you can get a cream tea. The RR station is a fair way from the center, and I don't know anything about the buses, having always managed to walk.

The Cathedral is a real marvel. One of my favorites. IMHO, it's the pinacle of the Norman-Romanesque in England.

Milan, Italy
Level Contributor
1,073 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Change of plans: Durham instead of York?

Thanks Oddone,

that sounds comforting!

Buying separate York-Durham return tickets in addition to the London-York return tickets will turn out almost £8 more expensive than if I had directly bought London-Durham tickets, but at least I will make the most of my day out, as I'll get to see a destination I wouldn't have probably considered otherwise (as it looked a bit too far away from London).

Actually I believe you can visit the castle also during term, at fixed times during the afternoon, at least this is what appears from their website:

www.dur.ac.uk/university.college/tours/

I hope I manage to do one of those!

Denver, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Pecs, Budapest
Level Contributor
4,695 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Change of plans: Durham instead of York?

You can certainly see the outside of the Castle.

Frankly, the Cathedral is one of my absolute favorites in the UK, and I am sort of a 'cathedral fanatic.' No, it's not 'Gothic.' So much unlike York Minster, which is. I can spend hours in and around it. And, of course, the view up from the river path is something that can't be missed.

Essex
Level Contributor
27,626 posts
69 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Change of plans: Durham instead of York?

That sounds like a good plan B to me.

Durham is a long way from London, it's true, but you have made a good choice for a Cathederal Visit.

Take tea in the Undercroft Restaurant in the Cathederal crypt itself, very nice indeed - good scones and cakes. Have a bottle of St Cuthbert's Ale from the local Durham Brewery as a treat to go with it - yum!

After your Cathederal (and Cafe) visit Take a walk around the loop in the river for some fab Cathederal views, then back to the Station. Should fill your 5 hours nicely.

Essex
Level Contributor
27,626 posts
69 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Change of plans: Durham instead of York?

PS, here is the Durham Cathederal website, if that helps:

http://www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/

Essex
Level Contributor
27,626 posts
69 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Change of plans: Durham instead of York?

By having a browse around this Durham forum, I have discovered that there is a bus which goes from the station to the Cathederal - should save you a bit of time, details here:

www.durham.gov.uk/Pages/Service.aspx…

Yorkshire Dales...
Destination Expert
for North Yorkshire, Suffolk
Level Contributor
3,584 posts
84 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Change of plans: Durham instead of York?

I have to say that I don't read the calendar as saying it is closed all day - although it isn't particularly clear. I read it as being closed for a short period up until 12.30

I think you should contact them for clarification before making further plans.

Edited: 26 March 2011, 15:40
Milan, Italy
Level Contributor
1,073 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Change of plans: Durham instead of York?

Hi EssexWanderer, thanks for the may suggestions! If I go to Durham, in the end, I'll definitely check out the Undercroft at the Cathedral.

Hi morgana, you are correct, it's not easy to understand clearly what the calendar means; while the message for, e.g., Sunday 19th June clearly states "Minster closed for sightseeing until 12.30 pm", the message for Thursday 16th June does not explicitly state any particular time, leaving me doubtful that the closure may be for the whole day. Following your very sensible suggestion I've just emailed them asking for a clarification, then we'll see.

I'm in any case so happy I've done this research on Durham as it seems a truly spectacular place and I've now discovered it is feasible as a day trip from London! Depending on the Minster's answer, I'll for sure visit Durham either this or the next time around!

Durham, United...
Level Contributor
307 posts
97 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Change of plans: Durham instead of York?

There appears to be a special service at York Minster on June 16th to commemorate the bicentenary of the Church of England National Society.

dioceseofyork.org.uk/news-events/…01633.html

It’s possible it will reopen to visitors after the service but it’s not clear. If you do decide to visit Durham I’m sure you’ll find it a more than worthy alternative and the extension to the journey only adds about 45 minutes. If you don’t want to walk to the Cathedral the bus service leaves from outside the station on the southbound side every 20 minutes

…durham.gov.uk/PDFRepository/Cathedral_Bus.p…

It takes about 10 minutes but really it’s just as easy to walk if you don’t mind the odd hill. You will pass numerous places along the way that serve lunches or cream teas. The 1 hour tour of the Castle is the only means of access to the interior and it’s very interesting. It’s advisable to double check the day’s schedule on arrival as tours occasionally have to be cancelled at short notice due to special events taking place.

The stroll along the riverbank is indeed not to be missed. There’s also a gentle 1 hour river cruise with commentary aboard the Prince Bishop

http://www.princebishoprc.co.uk/sightseeing/

Milan, Italy
Level Contributor
1,073 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Change of plans: Durham instead of York?

I did it!

I've just bought tickets to Durham: can't wait to visit!

By the way, a stunning view of Durham Cathedral from the river is the image on the front cover of my UK tourist guide by TCI (Italian Touring Club), which rates Durham extremely highly.

I haven't yet received an answer from York Minster (which is fine, I only emailed them a few hours ago), but other posters on the York forum have confirmed my understanding that the Minster will be closed all day.

My return tickets London-York were £20.50; the extension York-Durham cost me £11.60 on top of that, totalling £32.10.

Not too bad, but if I had directly booked return tickets London-Durham, I'd have spent £24.00, so the 'damage' is £8,10, but that's OK: it was foolish of me not reseaching deep enough before booking.

The good thing was that the East Coast website's system has reserved to me the very same seats for both bookings, so I won't have to change seats when the trains stop at York.

I'll collect the tickets for all the legs of my journey from London King's Cross station before departure (possibly the day before, to avoid being rushed on the morning I'm travelling).

Thanks all!

Get answers to your questions about Durham