Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Sheer poetry in historic County Durham, the land of Byron

Durham Cathedral (Getty Images)
Durham Cathedral (Getty Images)

THERE are a few key ingredients to enjoying a short break away.

There’s the look and the welcome, and the food, the drink and the comfy bed at the end of an evening.

But we’ve not even got as far as any of that at Seaham Hall in County Durham and it’s scaled the heights in our estimation.

It sits in 37 acres of landscaped gardens on a stunning clifftop location which we appreciate as we arrive along the coast road, stopping by the old pre-Viking church next to the beach.

It’s absolutely stunning, dominating the headland and with Heritage Coast views that stretch for miles. The building has the wow factor, too.

Seaham Hall Spa
Seaham Hall Spa

It’s a restored Georgian Country House, once the marital home of Lord Byron, the most renowned of Romantic poets. It dates back to 1791 and has gone through many incarnations, including as a TB sanatorium. It’s now a five-star boutique spa hotel, having been given a loving and luxurious revamp.

And from the moment we walk into the reception it oozes class and sophistication.

Our bags are whisked magically to our room. Did I say room? I meant suite.

There are 21 of them, from the junior variety which, honestly, is anything but junior, to the penthouse.

Not a touch has been overlooked, from carpets you could lose yourself in to massive TVs and a smart tablet to browse, view and order to your heart’s content.

The bathroom is massive with his-and-hers sinks and even a candle and a rubber duck for the sunken bath!

The cares of the world have already drifted far away, but if there are any lingering elements they are literally soothed into submission at the adjoining Serenity Spa complex.

You don’t even need to step outside the door in your fluffy white gown. A tunnel links it to the hotel and even that is special, a winding wooden pathway over a bubbling river.

Seaham Hall
Seaham Hall

The Ishga hot stone treatment almost sends us drifting off to sleep, but a bit of a swim reinvigorates us for dinner.

There are two restaurants; Byrons and our choice, the pan-Asian Ozone attached to the spa. An open kitchen adds to the theatre and everything from the duck pancakes to the Thai-style fish cakes was sensational.

We hear even more of the history with a post-dinner tour of the wine cellar where Prohibition-era whisky was bottled, taken through a tunnel to the beach and shipped to America.

If we needed any help getting to sleep, even that’s been taken into consideration with the turn-down service including a soothing spray on the pillows.

The temptation, unsurprisingly, is never to leave the serenity of Seaham. Why would you want to? But historic Durham is just 20-or-so minutes away and we tear ourselves away for a look-see.

Dominating the skyline, as it has done for centuries, is the famous cathedral.

The best views have always been from the top of the tower but it’s sheathed in scaffolding and polythene and undergoing a major renovation. On a previous visit I did get the chance to scale the heights, climbing all 325 steps, and the views were indeed simply sensational.

With that not possible today we just take in the magnificence of this 1000-year-old religious gem which is very much still a working place of worship.

The Cathedral and the adjacent Castle are an UNESCO World Heritage Site and several tours a day are available round the latter. But we head down an alley between both and turn right down the ever-steepening path to the River Wear.

Beamish Museum (Getty Images)
Beamish Museum (Getty Images)

On each corner by the 15th Century Framwellgate bridge there are coffee shops, and one proves an ideal refreshment stop, looking on to the river just feet below.

More pampering and relaxation at Seaham beckons, but before then we take the opportunity to catch up with another of the area’s great attractions, Beamish.

It’s an open air heritage museum where the past comes splendidly to life.

Costumed characters really enter into the roles as they boil up sweeties in the old-fashioned shop or bake goodies in cottages.

We board a clattering tram and, for an even earlier travel experience, there’s the Pockerley Waggonway.

Three classrooms have been rebuilt and we see bright-eyed kids get lessons from the days before whiteboards and laptops.

It’s a day out that really does appeal to the young as much as the old.

Yet, after this fantastic step into yesteryear, we can’t wait to get back to Seaham for an even more fabulous slice of the here and now.


An overnight stay in one of the 21 individually-designed suites costs from £195 for two sharing, including a full English breakfast and access to the superb spa from noon on the day of arrival.

For more information, call Seaham Hall on 0191 516 1400 or visit

For information on all County Durham’s attractions visit