Walking the Coast – Middlesbrough to Hartlepool

Start Point : Middlesbrough Train Station

End Point : Hartlepool Train Station

Distance : 17.20 Miles

After a bit of a hiatus while we completed the Tyne and Wear Heritage Way we are back to trying to walk some more of the Coast Path. To get back into it we decided to start addressing the gap we’d left between Hartlepool and Saltburn. Part of the reason we’ve not got around to filling the gap before was due to thinking that it wouldn’t be a particularly scenic walk around Middlesbrough, but after having so long without covering any new areas of the coast path we thought it would be a good a place as any to start back up.

At this part of the coast path the trail deviates quite far from the coast to cross the river Tees in Middlesbrough, so from North Gare in Seaton Carew to Redcar is all away from the sea!

Starting off from the train station we headed down towards the Transporter Bridge, built in 1911 the bridge has become a landmark of Middlesbrough and Teesside. The bridge functions with a gondola suspended beneath the bridge which transports both vehicles and pedestrians across the river. Unfortunately for us at the time we did this walk the bridge was closed for engineering works so instead of a ride on a gondola we has a 7 mile diversion up to the next bridge and back down again.

We followed the signs for the England Coast Path which led us along a road slightly set back from the River Tees and continued along here until we reached Teessaurus Park. The park came as something of a surprise as we crossed the car park and found the area filled with metal dinosaur sculptures! Teessaurus Park was first opened in 1979 with just one sculpture and then more were subsequently added.

We passed through the park and emerged next to the river at last, as we continued to walk up towards the Newport Bridge where we would cross. We passed a couple more sculptures, including one of a seal which we learned were part of the Tees Sculpture Trail. We also saw some guillemots swimming in the Tees, which was very unusal, at the time we did this walk guillemots and razorbills were mysteriously turning up all along the North East coast, and we did continue to see them all along the river and when we eventually made it to the sea. Investigations are currently being made, as many birds have unfortunately died and washed up and those examined have been found to have starved, but there’s not yet an explanation as to why, though hopefully there soon will be.

We came to the Newport Bridge, and finally started to feel we were at least walking in the right direction, instead of away from the sea. The Newport Bridge was the first large vertical lift bridge in Europe and was designed to lift to a height of 37 metres via electric motors to allow ships to pass below. It was built by the local company Dorman Long & Co who were also responsible for the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle.

Once we’d crossed the bridge the coast path followed along a busy road for a while before branching off to a slightly less busy road and hitting into a lot more heavy industry than on the other side of the river, with the only break being the village of Port Clarence seemingly surrounded on all sides by factories! At the far end of Port Clarence we finally reached the other end of the Transporter Bridge, and agreed that if it had been open we would definitely have skipped out the diversion!

The coast path here briefly left the road around a few fields before joining Seaton Carew Road which we would be walking beside for a long time. Although still surrounded by industry this bit of the walk was made a bit more interesting by passing several nature reserves. The first and biggest of these was RSPB Saltholme, where we passed right next to one of the lakes and saw a few terns along with herons and egrets. RSPB Saltholme is developed on previously industrial land, where birds had already started to utilise when the RSPB opened the reserve in 2009.

Some time after this we arrived at Seal Sands, and Teesmouth Nature Reserve, despite the name we weren’t actually expecting that we’d see any seals, but we were pleasantly surprised to see quite a large amount of them out on the sand bank just across from the hide! Before human disturbance it would be common for more than a thousand seals on these sand banks but by the 1930’s there were no longer any at all. Things started to improve for the seals in around the 1960’s and more and more seals gather on at seal sands as time goes on, though still nothing like the numbers seen before industry took over.

We spent quite a while watching the seals, finding a bench that we could see them from while having lunch before carrying on. At this point we were sure that we must be getting close to the sea but it seemed to take a very long time before we got to the point where we could see sand dunes, then there was only the small matter of getting past Hartlepool Nuclear Power Plant, and bizarrely a golf course right next it before we could get to the sea.

We climbed over the sand dunes and finally reached the sea, at this point of the walk we had already done 13 miles, a long way for a coastal walk! As we turned to follow the beach we could see Seaton Carew, the beach here is very wide and just behind is a pretty promenade which made a nice change from the scenery earlier in the walk. We headed up onto the promenade for a well deserved ice cream before continuing along to follow it all the way around to Hartlepool.

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Tyne and Wear Heritage Way – Burradon to Seaton Sluice

We’ve finally reached our ninth and last section of the Tyne and Wear Heritage Way. This time from Burradon to Seaton Sluice which is actually Section 2 of the route and listed in the opposite direction to the way we walked it. It’s down as being 9 miles but we ended up walking about 10 miles, we hadn’t walked much of this route before at all so it was one that we were looking forward to.

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John Martin Heritage Trail

On a recent trip to Allen Banks & Staward Gorge we happened across a way marker for the John Martin Heritage Way, always eager to find new walks we immediately looked up the details and resolved to complete the trail.

The John Martin Heritage Trail is a 13 mile (supposedly) circular walk which starts and ends in Haydon Bridge in Northumberland and explores this area of the Tyne Valley. It is made up of 2 loops, the 2 mile North loop and the 11 mile South loop. The walk was created to visit places associated with John Martin, an artist born in Haydon Bridge in the 18th Century.

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Tyne and Wear Heritage Way – Washington Old Hall to Roker Pier

At the weekend we did our penultimate stage of the Tyne and Wear Heritage Way, this time section 8 from Washington to Roker. A section we’ve been looking forward to as, apart from Sunderland to Roker we haven’t walked much of this area at all. Unfortunately we were hindered a bit by the weather, which continuously switched between pouring rain and boiling sun but it was still an interesting walk.

Since the opening of the Spire Bridge in Sunderland there’s now two route options for this section, one that crosses the bridge and follows the North bank of the river and the original route which stays on the South side, there’s no real difference in the distance (both entire routes are listed as 9.5 miles). We decided to go with the new route and cross the Spire Bridge.

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Tyne and Wear Heritage Way – North Shields to Seaton Sluice

We recently completed our seventh section of the Tyne and Wear Heritage Way, which means there’s only two more for us to do! The latest section we walked was from North Shields to Seaton Sluice, which is actually section one of the route as described on the site. For a change we even did it in the right direction! At 8 miles this is the shortest section of the route, and as it’s mainly flat and on pavements it’s probably the easiest too.

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Tyne and Wear Heritage Way – Washington Old Hall to Beamish

We’ve been back to making our way through the Tyne and Wear Heritage Way recently, the next section we decided upon was section 7, written as Beamish to Washington but for us it was easier to do Washington to Beamish. This section was 9.5 miles (but as with the previous section we hit 10 miles before finishing!)

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Tyne and Wear Heritage Way : Roker Pier to South Shields

We are making some real progress through the Heritage Way now! This week we skipped over several sections and completed section 9 (technically the last stage of the walk) from Roker Pier to South Shields. The route is listed as being 9.5 miles but we ended up walking over 10 miles.

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Tyne and Wear Heritage Way – Burradon to Ponteland

This weekend we walked another section of the Tyne and Wear Heritage Way! Instead of continuing on from Beamish where we last left off we decided to go to the other end of the sections we’ve done so far and walk Section 3 from Burradon to Ponteland which is around 8.5 miles. Finishing this section means we’ve now completed 4 out of 9 sections so we’re hopeful to find time to complete the rest this year.

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Tyne and Wear Heritage Way – Beamish to Thornley Woods

Well it’s been a while but we have finally finished another section of the Heritage Way! This time walking from Beamish to Thornley Woods (the opposite direction to the suggested route, purely for transport convenience) which makes up section 6 of the Heritage Way. This section was around 8.5 miles and combined areas we’ve walked many times with some we’d never visited.

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Tyne and Wear Heritage Way – Wylam to Ponteland

In March we walked our first section of the Tyne and Wear Heritage Way from Wylam to Thornley Woods, with the plan of doing a section a month to complete it by the end of this year. For obvious reasons we didn’t manage to keep that up, but after about 9 months we have now done another section! Heading back to Wylam for section 4, albeit in the opposite direction to the route description, however the route is way marked in both directions so this didn’t matter.

We’ve walked this whole route in pieces before (some parts many times!) but had never walked it all in one go before, so it was interesting to see how it all fit together.

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