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Photograph: Nick Martin

Enjoy spectacular views of the historic city of Durham and the surrounding countryside by climbing our towers.

Make a climb up the towers the high point of your visit

Durham Cathedral's central tower reopens from Saturday 1 June, sponsored by Baldwins Accountants. Conquer the 325 steps and enjoy unrivalled views over the historic city of Durham and see recently-completed restoration work up close.

Find out more about the central tower conservation work here.

The north west tower is a gentler climb at only 137 steps, and offers spectacular views over the world heritage site towards Durham Castle. It also offers the opportunity to get a closer look at the architectural detail of the central tower and the River Wear which curves around Durham City. 

Please note towers are open subject to weather conditions.

Safety restrictions

A reasonable level of fitness is required to climb both towers. Please wear reasonable footwear to climb the steps which are steep and narrow in parts. 

Further information about restrictions for climbing both towers can be found below.

A history of ups and downs

Durham Cathedral's towers have changed much in appearance over the centuries.

Restoration and renewal

A major three-year conservation project on the central tower finished in late 2018. The restoration work conserved and replaced weathered stone on the upper part of the central tower, completed entirely by our in-house team of around 8 stonemasons.

The fast-weathering sandstone used to build the towers means repair work has been common over the centuries. The central tower was rebuilt in the fifteenth century after lightning strikes, and victorian architects added a parapet to the central tower in the nineteenth century.

Ringing the changes

In 1553 there were four bells in the north west tower. However these were moved later in the 16th century to join the three bells in the central tower. Today the central tower houses 10 bells, which are regularly rung by our volunteer bellringers.

Prices

Tickets for both the central tower and north west tower are:
£5 adult
£2.50 child (8-17 years)

Opening times

Central tower: usually open Monday to Saturday 10am-4pm (last entry 3pm), and Sundays 1pm-3pm (last entry 2.30pm).

North-west tower: trips usually run Friday and Saturday, usually 10.30am, 12 noon, 1.30pm and 3pm.

The towers may be closed at short notice for bad weather or major special events. We will do our best to include notices of closures below, on our opening times page, what's on pagefacebook or twitter pages.

To check when the tower is open contact the visitor desk, open Mondays to Saturdays 9.30am - 4.30pm and Sunday 12.30pm - 4.30pm, by emailing visitor.desk@durhamcathedral.co.uk

How to book

Tickets are available from the visitor desk inside the cathedral.

Tickets for the central tower cannot be pre-booked or booked online. Tickets for the north-west tower cannot be booked online.

Important information

Climbing the central tower

 

Please note: Our tower has the steepest and most narrow spiral of any Cathedral in England and Wales (the last third being added in the 15th century). The top of the tower is 218ft / 66.45m high and there are 325 spiral steps, some are uneven and the tower becomes very narrow near the top.  

  • The tower is not suitable for anyone frightened by heights or confined spaces.
  • The tower is not suitable if you have a medical condition such as a heart or respiratory disorder which may be exacerbated by climbing stairs.
  • If you feel unwell or uncomfortable at any time please descend as soon as possible. There is an intercom at the top if you need to call for help in an emergency.
  • Pregnant visitors are strongly advised not to climb the tower.
  • Children must be 8 years old or over and accompanied by an adult until 18 years of age, as stipulated by our insurance company.
  • No smoking in or at the top of the tower.
  • Suitable footwear is required in the interests of safety. Visitors can not wear high heels, flip-flops, platforms, backless shoes, ‘heelys’ or have bare or stockinged feet.
  • No food or drink may be taken up the tower.
  • Large bags, including some large handbags, are not permitted.
  • It is advisable to have both hands free for your own safety.
  • Beware that floor length dresses could be a potential tripping hazard.
  • There are no toilet facilities in the tower.
  • There is a rest point with seating half way up the tower, but there is no seating at the top.
  • Photography is allowed in the tower.
  • As we do share the space with some resident pigeons, we advise that you refrain from putting your hands near your face and that you wash your hands afterwards, especially before eating.
  • Durham Cathedral is not responsible for the loss of or damage to clothing or personal possessions.

The Chapter of Durham reserves the right to refuse entry to the tower at any time.

Climbing the north-west tower

 

Please note: There are 137 spiral steps, some are uneven.  

  • The tower is not suitable for anyone frightened by heights or confined spaces.
  • Children must be 8 years old or older and accompanied by an adult until 18 years of age, as stipulated by our insurance company.
  • The tower may not be suitable if you have a medical condition such as a heart or respiratory disorder which may be exacerbated by climbing stairs.
  • No smoking in or at the top of the tower.
  • Suitable footwear is required in the interests of safety. Visitors can not wear high heels, flip-flops, platforms, backless shoes, ‘heelys’ or have bare or stockinged feet.
  • Beware that floor length dresses could be a potential tripping hazard.
  • Large bags are not permitted.
  • The tower may not be suitable for anyone who may be frightened by pigeons.
  • There are no toilet facilities in the tower.
  • There is no seating in the tower.
  • Photography is allowed in the tower.
  • If you feel unwell or uncomfortable at any time please let the Volunteer Tower Steward know as soon as possible.
  • As we do share the space with some resident pigeons, we advise that you refrain from putting your hands near your face and that you wash your hands after climbing the tower, especially before eating.
  • Durham Cathedral is not responsible for the loss of or damage to clothing or personal possessions.

We have recently opened this tower and in order to improve the experience for visitors, we would be grateful for feedback. Comments cards are available.  

The Chapter of Durham reserves the right to refuse entry to the tower at any time.