A New Lease Of Life For Darlington's Yards & Wynds (AD)

24 Jun 2021

This post is sponsored in collaboration with Darlington Borough Council

I'm such a creature of habit and when I gallivant around Teesside, I usually stick to Middlesbrough and Stockton areas. They're where I grew up, so they're where my family are and where I know. But I've been making a more conscious effort to explore some new places, and one of those is Darlington. Sure, I've been to Darlington, but I've never really spent a decent amount of time there, but I think that is all about to change with Darlington Borough Council's yards and wynds project.

What are the Darlington yards and wynds?

Darlington is a super historical spot, and one area where you can truly see this is in the yards and wynds. These are medieval-style lanes that link High Row to Skinnergate, dotted with gorgeous indie spots, photo opportunities, and pieces from local artists to create an open air gallery. Much of this area were lost to fires in 1585 and 1759, but a lot of it has been restored to mimic the former look. Think York's Shambles or Neal's Yard in London - like a little close-knit community within the town.

What is the Darlington yards and wynds project?

Darlington was one of the first of 100 towns to receive its share of the Government's £3.6bm Towns Fund, with the first phase of the project focussing on Clark's and Buckton's Yards. However, we can already see some of the work underway in other areas too!

While the council are keen to keep the yards and wynds to their historic roots, this project will see an incredible revitalisation across the area. This means that all of the buildings will retain their structure and charm, but we will see a beautiful refresh to breathe some modern life into the little lanes. The hope is that these improvements will make the yards and wynds a destination spot to encourage more people to visit, and help the businesses that are nestled there to flourish.

What can we expect to see?

Work is already underway on the yards and wynds, so you may be able spot some fresh new paintwork, like the candy stripes on The Wynd Cafe and Bistro on Post House Wynd. But there is still so much more to come! Many of the indie businesses will be getting brand new paint, giving them a little refresh and fun style, and some will don incredible murals that have been inspired by stories about the area shared from locals. 

Along with trendy paintwork and upgraded shop fronts, there are plenty of other things in the works, like a gorgeous living wall that will be totally Instagrammable, as well as other pots and planters to bring a touch of nature to the area. There will also be new decorative lighting, both in the narrow 'tunnels' that lead to the lanes, but also dotted along the yards and wynds (I've heard that some of this lighting may be festoon fairy lights, so keep your eyes peeled for that cuteness!).

Another major change that we can expect to see is updated artwork from local artists. You can currently visit and see all of the pieces, like the large scale artwork from students in Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College. But these will soon be updated to give the open air gallery a refresh, and beautiful coloured doors have been added to bring even more vibrancy (as well as the perfect spot for an Insta photo).

What else can we find in Darlington's yards and wynds?

Well, a better question would be what won't you find in the yards and wynds? Someone recently described this area of Darlington as a treasure trove, which is absolutely spot on - their is a true wealth of businesses and people with amazing stories in the lanes. One of my favourites is Echo 3, the Star Wars-inspired coffee shop that boasts freshly roasted coffee, delicious sweet treats, and amazing iced tea. You can also grab some homemade bread and baked goods from Bakerman next door, and cheese, chutneys and wine to complete your ideal cheeseboard from The Cheese & Wine Shop (who also sit above the Pease's wine cellar, which they are hoping to transform into a tasting event space!).

If you fancy somewhere for a little sit down eating and drinking, there are so many places to choose from. If you want somewhere a bit different, try The Stage Door, a music and theatre bar and cafe, so you can expect lots of live performances. For classic cake and coffee, you should give The Sunflower Cafe a try, characterised by its huge sunflower and bumblebee mural. Or for delicious breakfasts and brunches, you will love The Wynd Cafe and Bistro! With so many spots to choose from, you're completely spoiled for choice.

Some other fabulous places to check out are Number Eight Bakehouse for amazing doughnuts, cookies and pastries, Gillian Arnold for homeware with bold prints and personality, and Falafel Fella for authentic Syrian food. But there's so much more to discover, so take this as the sign you needed to go and explore!

As this is an ongoing project, you will see lots of changes over time, and as I've mentioned, some have been introduced now. But the best way to see what's going on is to keep checking back to the area, and following Love Darlo and Darlington Borough Council. That way, you'll be able to see all of the latest announcements and photos! But if you haven't been to yards and wynds for a little while, make sure you plan a visit soon to see the updates!

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