Access and facilities for people with disabilities
The Chapter of Durham welcomes all visitors to the Cathedral. However, we are aware that some people may need extra help and advice to make the best of their time here. We do ask anyone who wants or needs that extra help to contact us in advance.
Be assured that we will do what we can to make you feel welcome.
Access to the Cathedral
The monks chose a site easy to defend from Vikings. Unfortunately, 1000 years later, this means a steep climb to the Cathedral.
Durham City Shopmobility provides battery-operated scooters and a minibus service. They can be contacted on 0191 386 8556. Durham Cathedral Bus, under contract to Durham County Council, offers a ‘hop-on, hop-off” service between the bus station, railway station and city centre every 20 minutes. For further information call traveline on 0871 200 2233 or www.traveline.info.
There is no parking close to the Cathedral. We have very limited parking behind the Cathedral which may be available to single vehicles displaying a Disabled Badge. We are unable to reserve the disabled parking spaces and parking is strictly on a first come, first serve basis. On arrival, please contact the duty porter who will do his best to accommodate people with disabilities; however, disabled parking cannot be guaranteed.
The Cathedral and precincts
This great Norman Cathedral and its associated buildings were not designed with people who have mobility restrictions in mind. In medieval times the infirm pilgrim to St Cuthbert's Shrine would, at best, have been conveyed on a hand-held litter. The Chapter has, during recent times, endeavoured to improve access as much as possible. Most flights of steps have at least one handrail but some of the floors are uneven and care is required. We do have a manual wheelchair for use mdash; this can be useful for visitors with restricted mobility.
Access to the Cathedral is mostly via ramps. Please follow the signs. Within the building, the Chapel of Nine Altars, the Gregory Chapel and the Shrine of St Cuthbert have no ramps. However, the recent purchase of a ‘Stairclimber’ does enable manual wheelchair users to visit these areas under the guidance of a Cathedral employee. Please contact us in advance if you wish to use the Stairclimber, so that we can arrange for a trained person to be available.
Most of the precincts are accessible to wheelchair (and child's pushchair) users. The route to the shop, restaurant and lavatories (including an accessible one) does require leaving the cloisters and following a route outside the main buildings. This is well signed.
Those with impaired vision
You may like to start your visit with the Touch Centre situated near the Information Desk. A steward will set it up and instruct on its use. We realise that the light levels in the Cathedral can appear low, especially on dull days. Increasing the light level is easily done by a Verger. Guide dogs are very welcome. Visitors with impaired vision are encouraged to touch the many different shapes and surfaces around the Cathedral and precincts.
Care is needed on the uneven floors (including some tombstones) and steps. Wherever possible we have edged the steps with a contrasting colour.
Large-print editions are available for the English Short Guide to the Cathedral and various information leaflets. Ask at the Information Desk. Other leaflets and guides in the Monks' Dormitory are also available in large print.
The hard of hearing or deaf
The loop system in the Cathedral covers the nave, quire and transepts. This is unlikely to be of use to visitors except during services and when the sound system is in use.
Our guides are not trained in sign language; however, many of them have experience of guiding with an interpreter. Although the Cathedral is a place of prayer, it can at times be quite noisy, especially when the organ is being practised or tuned. Cathedral guides and stewards will endeavour to compensate for background noise.
Where to get help
Initially by contacting:
The Cathedral Office, The College, Durham, DH1 3EH.
Telephone: 0191 386 4266; Facsimile: 0191 386 4267
In the Cathedral and precincts, by contacting Cathedral Stewards (purple gowns), Bedesmen (maroon gowns), or Vergers (black cassocks or uniforms).
All who come to the Cathedral are of value and we recognise some have greater need for assistance than others. Please do not hesitate to ask for help, either in advance or during a visit.