Visit County Durham

Durham Cycling and Walking Website Launched

Press Release   •   Oct 08, 2012 15:26 BST

A new cycling and walking website, was launched over the weekend to coincide with the inaugural Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines cycling event in the spectacular Durham Dales.

Packed full of information on cycling, walking and outdoor opportunities available in Durham, the site is a ‘one stop shop’, where visitors can find out about routes and nearby attractions, build an itinerary, book accommodation and get all the information they need to prepare to explore Durham on wheels and on foot.

There is renewed interest in cycling as a sport and a pastime following the huge success of Team GB at the Olympic and Paralympic games in London over the summer.

Cycle tourism in the UK is already valued at £635 million per year and has massive growth potential. Durham has the routes and scenery to take advantage of the current cycling ‘buzz’, and become the location of choice for dramatic rides on the open roads, adventurous woodland trails and trips on scenic routes for the more casual rider.

The website is part of a wider marketing campaign, showcasing Durham and its famous cycle routes including the C2C, Walney 2 Wear and Whitby and North Sea Cycle Route and best-loved walking routes including the Weardale Way, Teesdale Way and Pennine Way.

Visitors can take in the breathtaking sights of the Durham Dales and North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the dramatic views from the Durham Heritage Coast - where routes are dotted with historical gems and natural wonders.

Hamsterley Forest is a magnet for mountain bikers, with its specially designed skills loop, downhill mountain bike courses, and offers a thrilling experience. And for the peace and tranquillity of the waterside, holidaymakers can head to one of Durham’s many reservoirs or riverside routes.

Melanie Sensicle, Chief Executive of Visit County Durham said: “The website is full of information and really user-friendly features that help people to learn more about cycling and walking in Durham, decide what route is right for them, and plan a full itinerary that includes places to stay, visit and eat on route. It caters for cycling and walking holidays, and for people who like a bit of exercise as part of a short break or family holiday.”

James Robinson is Managing Director of Challenger World, who chose Durham as the location of the Etape cycle sportive. He said of Durham’s cycling offer: “When considering different locations for the second event in the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Series, Durham soon established itself as the choice destination, especially considering both the route and the fact that Durham has the infrastructure to facilitate the expansion of the event in years to come. Essentially, it is the perfect destination for an event of this nature.”

The cycling and walking campaign and website is supported by the North Pennines AONB Partnership, Hamsterley Forest, Northumbrian Water, Durham Heritage Coast Partnership and Dalton Park, and there have been additional contributions from almost 70 businesses in Durham, keen to be featured as part of the campaign.

Melanie Sensicle added: “We’ve seen real enthusiasm for the website and the campaign from our partners and stakeholders. This website underpins a wider campaign of raising awareness of Durham as a destination, and we’re sure we’ll see more visitors as a result of our activity, which benefits everyone in the local tourism economy.”

Cycling and walking is the first theme of a three-year Visit County Durham campaign funded by £450,000 from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) administered by VisitEngland and with matched funding to the tune of £210,000 provided by cash and in-kind contributions from tourism operators and local partners. Cycling and walking is the first of three themes in a three-year campaign to promote Durham as a visitor destination being followed by Heritage in 2013 to coincide with the arrival of the Lindisfarne Gospels, and Food and Drink in 2014.

James Berresford, VisitEngland’s Chief Executive said: “The RGF project enables our public and private sector partners to work together to stimulate tourism and ultimately grow jobs. This is a great time to launch and we hope that by riding on the crest of a wave of a successful London 2012 Olympic Games we will harness the swell of national pride and inspire Brits to take the home advantage and holiday at home this year and beyond.”


For further information, contact:

Neil McLoram, Visit County Durham
03000 261 223, 07880 044622

Notes to Editors

  • Image (available on request) shows Rob Hayles, pictured with the new campaign website ( Rob is a three time Olympic medalist and double Track World Champion and one of the most experienced and well respected riders in British cycling. Best known for his endeavours in the Team Pursuit and Madison events, Rob has been an integral feature in a ‘golden era’ for cycling helping to develop the careers of Mark Cavendish amongst others.
  • The website address is

Website visitors can browse by geographical area, by a particular theme (forest and woodland, family-friendly, breathtaking views etc.), or can set themselves a challenge in terms of distance or difficulty. It also features exciting video footage of some of the experiences on offer.

  • Year two partners for the heritage focus of Durham’s Regional Growth Fund Campaign are the Lindisfarne Gospels Project; Durham Cathedral; Beamish – The Living Museum of the North; and Locomotion – the National Railway Museum at Shildon.

About Visit County Durham

    • Visit County Durham (VCD) is the tourism management agency for County Durham working on behalf of businesses and public agencies. We came into being on 1 April, 2006 and are a private, not-for-profit company, limited by guarantee, with a board of ten directors including an executive director.
    • The company is mainly funded by Durham County Council. The private sector also contributes financially to our work in return for benefits and activities that meet their needs.
    • VCD assists Durham to fulfil its potential as one of North East England’s lead destinations, attracting visitors to the region from across the UK and from target overseas markets.
    • Our objective is to ensure that the tourism sector performs to its maximum capacity and brings economic benefits to the county in the form of wealth and job creation. Our broad aims are to attract people to the area and to provide visitors with the best possible experience

About VisitEngland

  • VisitEngland is the country’s national tourist board. We work in partnership with the industry to develop the visitor experience across England, plan national tourism strategy, grow the value of tourism in England and provide advocacy for the industry and our visitors
  • Our work is underpinned by robust research and customer insights. You can access the latest in-depth market intelligence and statistics on   
  • For corporate information see and for consumer information see

About the Regional Growth Fund

  • The Regional Growth Fund was launched in October 2010 and has so far allocated £1.4 billion through two bidding rounds. An additional £1 billion was added to the fund in the 2011 Autumn Statement which closed in June 2012. The winners will be announced in the Autumn. For more information, please visit

Our objective is to ensure that the tourism sector performs to its maximum capacity and brings economic benefits to the county in the form of wealth and job creation.  Our broad aims are to attract people to the area and to provide visitors with the best possible experience.