Monday, 3 February 2014


Middlesbrough → Port Clarence

transporter-bridge.jpg Distance: 6.06 miles
Ascent: 118 metres
Duration: 2 hours 18 minutes

The Tees
« Marske-by-the-Sea | North Sands, Hartlepool »

There was a gap. This needed rectifying. I could've chosen to brush it under the carpet, claim that it doesn't count. But under my rules that would've been cheating. And before this month is out I want to be able to look you in the eye and say I've walked England's entire coastline, so I had to head north today.

Back in September we'd hoped to walk from Middlesbrough to Hartlepool, starting with a flight across the iconic Tees Transporter Bridge. En route we discovered that the bridge had closed just a few days before, for four weeks' painting. "Never mind," I thought, "we can slot that bit in on our way up to Northumberland in the New Year." In December the local council (who operate the bridge) finally admitted that four weeks was a little optimistic, and the bridge would finally re-open late in the Spring.

So today I've travelled all day to walk upstream to the next bridge, in order to complete a walk that finished just a few hundred metres across the water from its start.

teesaurus.jpgA short distance upstream from the Transporter on the south bank is Teesosaurus Park: an area of open land which has been visited by large steel dinosaur figures. It seems fitting: this area used to be packed with ironworks, but they're all gone now, leaving only occasional relics such as the bridges.

newport-bridge.jpgThe Transporter isn't Middlesbrough's only curious bridge. I crossed the Tees on the Newport Bridge, an iron girder design whose entire central span could be lifted high into the air by counterweights dangling from huge chains and cables to let ships pass. Its lifting mechanism has been retired now, leaving another iron fossil with its feet in the river.

tees-industry.jpgThe north bank is full of industry. Mainly chemical works now, but it's still possible to see the silted up docks where ships were once built. They construct offshore wind turbines here now: dinosaurs of the future maybe.

high-clarence.jpgTowards the end of the walk I reached residential streets again. High Clarence and Port Clarence have suffered badly. The first row of houses I saw had a v-shaped gap where two had been burnt out recently. Every terrace had at least one boarded up property, and on one street every house was shuttered. Houses here are auctioned with incredibly low starting prices: less than £10,000 at times. With industry largely absent, and the main link to Middlesbrough being the unreliable Transporter it's perhaps no surprise.

rusty-padlock.jpgI'm no longer shocked at the sight of horses abandoned on the verges, and grimy, derelict land. These things aren't representative of the North-East, but I've come to expect them. This last year walking up from Skegness has shown me a face of England that I'd never known before.

Posted by pab at 23:07 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!