The ultimate freshers guide to all the neighbourhoods in Durham

The Viaduct vs Gilesgate debate rages on

Durham students are once again in the throes of a housing crisis, despite the fact we’re only half way through first term. Securing a house for the next academic year, while you still haven’t even fully memorised your timetable for the current one, is an extremely overwhelming feeling and one I remember all too well from this time last year. 

Being a fresher, especially this early on in the year, should be all about having fun and getting used to living in college. NOT securing a house for a full year away, worrying about bills in or bills out, and decimating newly formed friendship groups in the process. So, if you’re struggling to differentiate between Church Street and Claypath, or maybe you didn’t even know what a Viaduct was until two weeks ago, this guide to all the areas in Durham is for you.

The Viaduct

The Viaduct needs no introduction. The place where “everyone” wants to and apparently must live. This is where the cool kids hang out. Let me push this in freshers terms: Viaduct vs Gilesgate is the equivalent of Bailey vs Hill. I don’t think I need to say which is which.

The Viaduct is where you’ll find some of the most jaw-dropping Durham student house prices, with some more than £200 per week. However, if you hunt hard enough it is possible to find more reasonably priced houses. The majority of Viaduct houses are admittedly quite nice and tend to have double beds. The Viaduct is also house party central as its inhabitants are pretty much all students. The downside of that is the likelihood of running into your former situationship is extremely high.

The Viaduct

How do you know if someone lives in the Viaduct? Simple: They will tell you. It’ll probably be the first thing they say given it is their entire personality. They will also say it with a certain smugness as they managed to actually secure a Viaduct house instead of getting pushed out to Claypath.


Claypath has quite a good reputation; it is a mere five minute walk from Spoons – need I say more?

The houses are pretty nice as far as student housing goes but without breaking the bank. It’s close to town. However, your walk back from a night out means you most likely go past about 10 different take-outs, and I’d like to see someone resist that much temptation.

There is a bit of contention as to what actually constitutes Claypath; some people who reside dangerously close to the Gilesgate roundabout insist they are Claypath loyals, much to the annoyance of the “true” Claypathers.


Right, Gilesgate gets a horrendous rep. Yes, it doesn’t boast the nicest houses in Durham, and yes it can be a trek to well… anywhere BUT the houses are significantly cheaper. Viaduct people will recoil in horror and pity (with a hint of the aforementioned smugness) when you reveal you’re a Gilesgate dweller but it’s really not that bad.

Where you live in Gilesgate is very important for how dire your situation is. For those who live before the Sainsbury’s, you’re only really a 20 minute walk from town, which is the same as living in a hill college.

But for those who live past Sainsbury’s, i.e. “Deep Gilesgate”, your calves must be extremely toned. Deep Gilesgate’s redeeming feature is Big Tesco. However, the disadvantage of living near Big Tesco is that you are at least 40 minutes from the centre of town. I can only imagine that your cupboards are very well stocked, compared to other people who are too lazy to make the walk up and resort to whipping up odd food combos with whatever bits and bobs they have left.

N.B: For those trying to make “Gilly G” happen, stop. It’s not going to happen.

Whinney Hill / Hallgarth Street / Church Street

Hallgarth Street

This is another much sought after area for Durham students, given its close proximity to both town and the science site/Billy B, and the fact that the houses are lovely. Consequently, rent is sky high.

However, as nice as the student houses are on Church Street, living there means you will be subjected to hearing all the hill freshers going to and from their nights out, and all that entails: Namely drunk singing, drunk shouting, and probably some drunk crying.

Framwellgate Moor

Oh dear, I’m going to assume the housing crisis hit you particularly hard and finding a house did not go well.

Don’t get me wrong, Framwellgate Moor is a lovely area as it’s more residential and therefore more peaceful. However, it is at least a 45 minute walk to most places in Durham which is a bit inconvenient and may leave you feeling out of the loop.

Now that you are an expert in Durham neighbourhoods, go forth and do battle with student estate agents. God speed.

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