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Crook Hall & Great North Forest

Durham City’s hidden garden gem

Fans of gardens and afternoon tea have to put Crook Hall on their ‘to do’ list, hidden in the heart of Durham City.

The 13th-Century Grade I-listed medieval hall provides a spectacular backdrop to the stunning gardens, each one with a different but distinctly English theme.

Soak up the atmosphere over a home-made cream tea in the courtyard or in front of a log fire in the Georgian dining room. And that’s not all – there’s gentleman’s tea, sparkling afternoon teas and tipsy tea – with vintage tea pots full of cocktails!

Crook Hall hosts many events, especially during the school holidays, so do check out their website, as there’s always something going on.

The gardens are a short walk from the market place. Country Life described the hall as having “history, romance and beauty”.

Winter opening; November 2016 to March 2017: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 10am to 3pm: £5 per adult, £4.50 concessions, £3 child.

The Café @ Crook Hall is open throughout the year, seven days a week: 9.30am-5pm, free entrance.

Crook Hall is on Frankland Lane, Sidegate, DH1 5SZ, a short walk from The Gates Shopping Centre. Follow the road next to the river from the Riverside and The Gates Car Parks, opposite the Gala Theatre. Pre-booking is essential for certain events. Season tickets and group discounts are available.

For further information, call 0191 384 8028 or e-mail: info@crookhallgardens.co.uk, or visit www.crookhallgardens.co.uk.

Walk in the woods – The Great North Forest

The Great North Forest circular cycle and walking route takes you through the countryside of the former mining areas in Tyne and Wear and parts of County Durham, passing through Pelton, Bournmoor, Hetton-le-Hole, Penshaw Monument and Witherwack.

It includes a path along the Wear in Sunderland and a coastal section visiting Whitburn and Marsden Bay.

You will also visit the 14th century Lumley Castle at Chester-le-Street and Penshaw Monument – a folly on Penshaw Hill dedicated to John George Lambton, first Earl of Durham.

In 2006, by the time the two millionth tree had been planted in Herrington Country Park, £22 million had been invested.

It was started in 1989 as the first of 12 community forests, designed as ‘urban lungs’, covering about 250sq km across Tyne and Wear and North-East Durham – more than 1,200 hectares of new woodland.

Neighbouring South Hylton Pasture is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and one of the few remaining examples of lowland hay meadow in Britain.

The shallow, north-facing slopes support unimproved neutral grassland, maintaining a herb-rich sward, which supports the Common Blue and Meadow Brown butterflies.