Thursday, 29 August 2013


Port Clarence → North Sands, Hartlepool

tees-industry.png Distance: 15.24 miles
Ascent: 90 metres
Duration: 4 hours 33 minutes

Looking for something better
« Middlesbrough | Seaham »

This area of the north-east is looking for something better.

We started walking in Port Clarence, just across the River Tees from Middlesbrough. Houses here change hands for as little as £14,000, typically by open auction with a starting price of less than a thousand. House after house is boarded up and the Station Hotel offers bed and breakfast for £75 a week. But this is also where the Transporter Bridge lands and the immediate vicinity is extremely pleasant, with newly refurbished street furniture and pristine pavements. I imagine those who live around the corner in the village are hoping investment might spread into their estate too.

Sadly, we didn't cross the river on the Transporter today. It had loomed large in our minds as we planned this walk, but only this morning we found out that it closed a couple of days ago for eight weeks while it's being repainted. We will return to glide across the Tees another day.

Three miles of road-walking followed, past access roads to heavy industry. One yard here was famous a few years ago for breaking up toxic ships; they're now building oil rigs — an employer adapting as time requires? The nuclear power station will need a change too as it reaches the end of its life in the next five years.

greatham-creek.pngIn amongst this industry we saw a colony of seals stretched out on a muddy bank in Greatham Creek. What is it about this place that drew them here?

seaton-carew.pngNext up was Seaton Carew. I imagine few would have heard of the place were it not for John and Anne Darwin's dreams of a better life in Panama, and the fraudulent means by which they tried to realise them.

Beyond Seaton is Hartlepool where regeneration is well underway. Or at least, in parts of the town. The marina and central harbour has been beautifully modernised, but beyond their immediate precincts is wasteland and struggling industry.

spion-kop-cemetery.pngOn the north side of town the settlement of The Headland felt as if it remained authentic to its roots but was hanging on by a thread. As we left the village we reached the atmospheric old cemetery and beyond it, newly cleared industrial land at North Sands. Planning permission has been granted for five hundred new homes here; the beginning of something new for another part of the town.

The big question is whether this is the start of something new for the area, or whether those moving in will just end up dreaming of something better again.

Posted by pab at 20:56 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!