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What to See and Do – Top Attractions

Barnard Castle market town

Picture of rooftops on The Bank, Barnard Castle

A historic ‘Beacon status’ market town full of local character, built around the 12th century castle from which it took its name. Locally known as ‘Barney’, the town boasts beautiful Georgian stone buildings, a cobbled market place, riverside and woodland walks. The area known as ‘the Bank’ is one of the best centres in the region for antique collectors and has historic associations with Charles Dickens, JMW Turner, Sir Walter Scott and Oliver Cromwell.

Location: Intersection of A67 and A688.
Coach access and parking: Drop-off point outside Tourist Information Centre at ‘Scar Top’ adjacent to Castle and Post Office. Designated coach parking within main car park (fee payable).
Allow: Full day recommended
Tourist Information Centre: +44 (0)1833 690909

Barnard Castle (English Heritage)

Picture of the ruins of Barnard Castle

Imposing castle ruins perched on a cliff overlooking the River Tees. Audio guided tours, small gift shop, sensory gardens and picnic area. The castle dates back to the 12th century and was once one of the largest in northern England.

Admission fee
Location: In heart of Barnard Castle town
Coach access and parking: Drop-off point outside Tourist information centre at ‘Scar Top’ adjacent to Castle and Post Office. Designated coach parking within main car park (fee payable).
Allow: 1 hour
Group bookings: +44 (0)1833 638212 (site custodian) or +44 (0)191 2691200 (regional head office)

The Bowes Museum

Picture of tourists with guide at the Bowes Museum

This world-class visitor attraction attracts around 100,000 visitors each year. Built in the style of a French chateau in 23 acres of parkland, the Museum houses an outstanding collection of European fine and decorative art and regular exhibitions and events.

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Outstanding Museum designation logo


Admission fee
Location: Newgate, Barnard Castle, 0.25 miles from Butter Market roundabout
Coach access and parking: Designated coach parking to rear of museum building. Drop off at front of building by prior arrangement. Coaches also park on roadside outside of Museum gates.
Allow: 2-3 hours
Group bookings: +44 (0)1833 694605
Email: [email protected]

Eggleston Hall Gardens

Picture of the gift shop at Eggleton Hall

Four acres of walled gardens, a nursery, tearooms and gift shop set in the grounds of a Georgian country house. The Hall is available for hire for private parties for up to 150 people. Cookery and flower arranging demonstrations and courses are available. The ornamental gardens are laid out informally. A walking route takes in the ruined 17th-century parish church and churchyard. RSPB bird boxes and feeding tables attract unusual birds. Evening visits and guided tours of the gardens are available by prior arrangement. 

Admission fee for gardens
Location: Off B6281 near Eggleston
Coach access and parking: Coaches should park at Hall reached by road marked ‘private’, to left of narrow lane to gardens and tearooms. Cars and mini coaches should use main car park.
Allow: 1-2 hours
Gardens bookings: +44 (0)1833 650115
Tearoom bookings: +44 (0)1833 650432
Hall bookings: +44 (0)1833 650553
E-mail: [email protected]

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Herdship Farm

Featured in the BBC’s Flying gardener series, Herdship Farm in Upper Teesdale is a traditional Teesdale farm that has won several awards for environmental stewardship. A farm walk route takes in remains from the lead mining industry as well as a variety of grassland habitats with rare species of flowers including the harebell, rock rose, globe flower and blue gentian, and upland birds including the hen harrier, falcon, black grouse, curlew, redshank, yellow wagtail, oyster catchers, heron, snipe and lapwing.

Location: Off B6277 between Middleton-in-Teesdale and Alston
Coach access and parking: please contact farm
Allow: 1 hour
Contact: +44 (0)1833 622215
E-mail: [email protected]

High Force waterfall

Picture of High Force Waterfall

England’s largest waterfall is reached via a short woodland walk from the car/coach park, picnic area and gift shop.

Admission fee
Location: B6277, 4.5 miles north west of Middleton in Teesdale
Coach parking: adjacent to High Force Hotel (fee payable)
Allow: 45 minutes (to include walk to/from falls)

Group bookings: +44 (0)1833 640209
Email: [email protected]


Picture of spring bulbs in Middleton-in-Teesdale

Middleton-in-Teesdale is a ‘company town’ created by the London Lead Company in the 19th century. It is the gateway to the upper dale and has a tourist information centre, gift shops, bakers, tearooms and several pubs. 

Location: Intersection of B6276, B6277 and B6282
Coach access and parking: on-street parking is limited and double-parking restricts access for coaches.
Allow: 2-3 hours
Tourist Information Centre: +44 (0)1833 641001
Email: [email protected]

Meet the Middletons

Picture of 'Meet the Middletons' courtesy of The Northern Echo

This exciting new all-weather family-friendly visitor attraction explores life for a typical family in this rural ‘company town’. The year is 1850 and the Middleton family -father, mother and two children – make their living from farming and lead mining.

Admission fee
Location: Chapel Row, Middleton in Teesdale B6282

Coach access and parking: Ring in advance to book on-street drop-off point.
Allow: 1.5 hours
Group bookings: +44 (0)1833 640333
Email: [email protected]

North East Oval Motorsport

Picture of stock car at Barford Raceway

Barford Raceway near Streatlam, Barnard Castle is the venue for the 2004 Formula Two Stockcar World Championships. The Raceway hosts regular monthly fixtures of stockcar, hot rod and banger racing. 

Admission fee
Location: Off A688 opposite Streatlam, 2 miles from Barnard Castle)
Coach access and parking: tbc
Allow: half day (races usually in the afternoon)
Group bookings: tbc
Email: [email protected]

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Otter Trust

Picture of an Otter courtesy Mr R Bland

The Otter Trust North Pennines Reserve is one of the most important areas in England for breeding otters and birds. The attraction has otter enclosures, viewing hides, a model farm with rare breeds, a visitor centre, shop, tearoom, picnic area and dog exercise area. Visits are best timed to coincide with the otter feeding times – usually 12 noon and 3pm.

Admission fee
Location: Off A66 west of Bowes village.
Coach access and parking: Parking available on site.
Allow: 1-2 hours  Group bookings: +44 (0)1833 628339

Raby Castle

Picture of the inside of Raby Castle

One of England’s most beautiful castles, Raby is the home of Lord Barnard. Visitors have access to much of the castle including the imposing entrance hall, the Barons’ Hall, chapel, sumptuously furnished drawing rooms, the dining room, library, bedrooms and kitchen. Grpunds tickets give access to the carriage collection and tack room, stables tearoom, woodland adventure playground, gardens and gift shop. Guided tours may be tailored to suit particular interests and should be pre-booked.

Admission fee
Location: Off A688 near Staindrop
Coach access and parking: free coach and car parking is available opposite the pay kiosk. Coaches may drop off visitors at the entrance to the Castle.
Allow: 3 hours
Group bookings: +44 (0)1833 660202
Email: [email protected]

Rokeby Hall and Park

This palladian style country house on the banks of the River Tees was the setting for Sir Walter Scott’s ballad ‘Rokeby’. The house contains a unique collection of 18th century needlepainting pictures.
Guided tours by prior arrangement.

Admission fee
Location: North side of A66 between A1M and Bowes.
Coach access and parking: car park on site, narrow roads and gateway.
Allow: 1 hour
Group bookings: +44 (0)1833 637334