Turner set the distinctive outline of Durham Cathedral against a soft grey sky. Its great size and prominent position ensure its dominance over the surrounding countryside. Turner hinted at the city's presence close to the cathedral and included the characteristic terraced houses of the region on the near bank. He made this drawing during a sketching tour of the North of England and Scotland in 1801. His regular tours around the country provided material for commissions and subjects which might eventually be engraved for editions of collected picturesque views.