County Durham has shaken off its grimy reputation in recent years and recast itself as a thriving tourist area. The well-to-do market towns of Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle make great day-trips from Durham, and there’s plenty of excellent walking and cycling in the wilds of the two Pennine valleys, Teesdale and Weardale. You’ll find some top-class museums in the area, too, including Beamish, Locomotion and the Bowes Museum.

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