From its heritage coastline to the rolling landscape of the Derwent Valley, County Durham offers a breadth of variety and landscapes few other counties can match.
And now it’s revealing some of its hidden corners to house buyers from across the UK.
While Durham itself routinely attracts visitors from around the world, keen to explore its cathedral and castle – both UNESCO World Heritage sites – the wider county often goes unexplored.
But now the spotlight is falling on some of its lesser known towns and villages as house hunters seek dream homes in country and coastal settings.
Major building developments in the county have highlighted the charms that can be found in towns such as Chester-le-Street – which not only boasts the historical kudos of being a former Roman settlement but even comes with its own fairytale castle in the shape of nearby Lumley.
Then there’s the stunning coastline of Seaham -one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the North East, along which the “mad, bad and dangerous to know” early 19th century poet, Lord Byron, would walk from his marital home, Seaham Hall.
This former mining town is enjoying a renaissance at the moment and is even attracting tourists keen to admire Tommy; the unbelievably poignant statue of a First World War soldier by artist Ray Lonsdale, displayed close to Seaham war memorial, on Terrace Green by the seafront.
Then, further west, there is Tanfield – the home of the world’s oldest railway – and the scattering of villages to the west of the county, in the shadow of the Pennines.
And Consett, whose Derwent Valley location is finding favour with buyers keen to experience a semi-rural lifestyle, which combines outdoor living with all the facilities and infrastructure you might expect from a thriving town.
Changing work habits, too, mean commuters have more scope than ever before when choosing a new home, as long as good transport links and reliable internet connectivity are in place
“Here in the North East we’ve long been aware of County Durham’s hidden gems,” said Patrick Arkle, regional managing director at Miller Homes North East, which is spearheading a number of developments in the county.
“But now people from outside the area are discovering that there’s far more to County Durham than meets the eye.
“It offers the holy trinity of city, country and coast and that gives it enormous appeal.”
Miller Homes current developments include Lambton Park and Trinity Green at Chester-leStreet and Station Fields at Tanfield.
It has also begun selling at its new £250m Seaham Garden Village development, delivering 375 homes.
In addition, future projects include the Bishops Walk development, on the outskirts of Durham city centre and Fellside Gardens at Consett – bringing a total of 898 new homes to the county.
“One of the most appealing aspects of living in County Durham is that it meets so many different requirements,” said Patrick.
“It’s awash with very good private and state schools and there is still a strong sense of community life in its smaller towns and villages, which are often well equipped with facilities, from supermarkets to sports clubs.
“And, of course, its transport network is superb. It’s on the main East Coast rail line so not only are three cities of Durham, Sunderland and Newcastle easily accessible but you can be in the centre of London in just over two and a half hours.
“We’ve always known it was God’s own county and now people from all over the UK are finding that out for themselves.”
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