Barnard Castle is a small market town in County Durham in North East England. Dickens, Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott were all inspired here, and it hosts a picturesque ruined castle, and the over-the-top Bowes Museum.
Barnard Castle is just north of the A66 trans-Pennine trunk road. The A688 runs northeast to Durham, and A67 runs west to join A66 towards Penrith and the Lake District.
At the south edge of town, there is a narrow bridge on A67 with a sharp turn. Heavy vehicles are not permitted (it's enforced by traffic camera) and cars with caravans or trailers must take great care not to strike the bridge walls.
There is a large "pay and display" car park at the Morrisons store. You can park free on the cobbles in the town centre, but not on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings which are market days. Parking is seldom a problem, then explore on foot.
There's no railway here. Arriva North East bus X75 runs from Darlington, Mon-Sat hourly, Sun every 2 hours, taking 45 mins. The bus stand is on Galgate, the main thoroughfare.
- 1 Barnard Castle, Scar Top, DL12 8PR, ☎ . Daily 10:00-18:00. Was it really worth so many fights between the Scotch, the Normans and the Prince Bishops over this? The setting is grand, overlooking the river and bridge, and many authors have been inspired by its prospect and turbulent history. But it's hard to disagree with the 17th C new owner, awarded it by the Crown for not being treasonous like the previous owner, who took one look and decamped to Raby Castle 8 miles east (see Bishop Auckland). Adults £4.50, children £2.70, concs £4.10.
- The Market Cross (or "Butter Market") dates from 1747.
- The standout attraction here is the grandiose 2 Bowes Museum, DL12 8NP, ☎ . Daily 10:00-17:00. County Durham's best attempt at Versailles, this late 19th C concoction houses blingy fine art by the metric tonne: El Greco, Goya, ceramics, tapestries, Canaletto, jewels, and on and on it goes. Be there for 2pm, when a mechanical silver swan whirrs into life, craning and preening its feathers then trying to catch a fish. Adult £14.
Barnard Castle is in the 01833 (+44 1833) dialing area and the DL12 postal area.
The B-road up the Tees valley northwest passes Middleton-in-Teesdale, High Force waterfall, then crosses the moors towards Hadrian's Wall.