Visit County Durham has announced new heritage experiences for groups. Following a four-year restoration project, Durham Cathedral’s Central Tower has reopened, allowing visitors to climb its 325 steps to take in views of the city and beyond.

The 900-year-old Auckland Castle is also set to open to the public later this year following a multi-million-pound conservation project. Once home to the Prince Bishops of Durham, the Castle’s State Rooms will be returned to their original Georgian Gothic splendour, while the Bishops’ private apartments will also be open to the public for the first time.

Hannah Bryan, Head of Visitor Experience for The Auckland Project said, “As home to the Prince Bishops and later, the Bishops of Durham, Auckland Castle has played a key role in the history of the North East and Britain for centuries. This fascinating story will be told through conservation, interpretation and interactive media, with the Castle set to be an intriguing addition to the county’s group travel offer.”

A new itinerary, Industries of Old, has also been created to provide new ideas and inspiration to the travel trade and group travel organisers. The half-day and full-day itineraries allow visitors to explore the county’s proud industrial heritage, including Killhope and Locomotion and also include little known facts, coach travel times and sat-nav postcodes.

Industries of Old forms part of a suite of heritage-themed itineraries, which also include Our Grand Designs – featuring buildings such as Durham Castle and Durham University’s Palace Green Library; Take a Step Back in Time – attractions and events that immerse visitors in times gone by including The Mining Art Gallery and Kynren – an Epic Tale of England; Flora, Fauna and a Fortress – featuring the glorious gardens of Crook Hall and Raby Castle; and Treasure Troves – buildings as impressive as the exhibits within, including The Bowes Museum and Auckland Tower.

Itineraries are also available on the county’s food and drink experiences and walking, plus information on group-friendly attractions and accommodation.

Michelle Gorman, Managing Director of Visit County Durham said, “Durham is well known as a destination that will immerse groups in its fascinating heritage, but 2019 sees a number of developments at award-winning attractions create a range of exciting new ways for groups to experience the county’s fascinating past for themselves. I’d say if you think you know Durham, think again! We hope the series of heritage-themed itineraries, along with the newest addition, Industries of Old, will inspire travel trade and group travel organisers to find out more about why Durham is the ideal destination for groups.”

For more information, or to download the itineraries, please visit the Discover Durham website.