Find out what life is really like at Durham University

Durham CityPostgraduateStudent experience

500 days of Postgraduate Summer

Durham is a different place during the summer, when undergraduates leave for warmer climes, and the University feels like an abandoned theme park. I have to admit that Durham being reasonably student-free does have its perks – the departure of a few thousand students makes the city much quieter.

So take the opportunity to rediscover what Durham has to offer!

If I am feeling low of an afternoon, dreaming of lazing around in the sunshine rather than carrying out experiments in a hot laboratory, I like to cheer myself up with a walk around the Botanic Gardens. The fresh air and glorious plant life works wonders, and I might even treat myself to an iced coffee or a chocolate brownie.

Botanic Garden

Botanic Garden

If the evening is nice, there are some beautiful spots along the river to discover – you might even catch sight of a heron or two. The weekends don’t have to be pointless pit-stops between working weeks either.

For the first time in my five years at Durham, I went rowing on the river, and it was great! Yes, you may end up nearly crashing in to the Prince Bishop’s, and get weeds tangled up in your oars, but the serenity of the water is the perfect thing to relax you after a hard weeks work.

If you’re feeling more cultured, there are some great exhibitions on at the Oriental Museum over the summer. Or if you want a great group activity, try the Escape Room next to Jack Wills, with just an hour to solve the puzzles and escape – possibly to the pub for a relaxing drink!

If you’d rather escape Durham for a while, Newcastle has a lot more to offer in way of escape rooms, museums, and maybe even a bit of bowling. Not being much of a city girl myself, I like to get outside and explore the country.



The National Trust site of Gibside has a lot to offer in terms of walks and opportunities for relaxation, as well as a café for coffee and a slice of cake afterwards (are you sensing a theme?).

You could go even farther afield, and plan a walk around Cow Green Reservoir in beautiful Weardale, taking in High Force and Low Force waterfalls and getting back to nature.

So whatever it is you enjoy doing my fellow postgraduates, don’t let the working summer months get you down. Get out and explore, and have fun!


Profile photo for blog

Written by Paige Panter (nee Sleight)

I am a PhD student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences department researching how plants respond to freezing. As well as carrying out experiments in the lab, I am keen to get more people interested in science. I also love exploring the countryside, visiting National Trust places and of course, coffee and cake!

Paige Sleight

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