County Durham is a tiny county, with the main city of Durham (like Rome) being set on seven hills, and home to one of England’s top universities. This is ideal walking country if you don’t mind the cold and wind and rain and more cold! Home to oldest-surviving single-arch railway bridge (and the birthplace of English mustard)!
Who needs celebrity tosh on TV, when you read about the lives of Catholic saints? St Francis of Assisi (patron saint of ecology and animals) was a real party boy in his time, and Durham’s own St Cuthbert (buried on the island of Lindisfarne where he spent most of his life in prayer as a hermit) used to guard sheep and passed laws to protect eider ducks, and is regarded as ‘the world’s first environmentalist’. It is said he became a monk after witnessing angels carrying St Aiden (the monastery’s abbot) to Heaven , when he died.
You can even take an ancient pilgrimage on the Northern Saints Trails. These six routes cover County Durham and Northumberland (including the holy island of Lindisfarne). England used to be a Roman Catholic country until the Reformation when Henry VIII banned it, to form the Church of England so he could divorce. Many monks and nuns were killed. Stories of northern saints are interesting and dramatic.