The Teesdale Way – Section 13
Distance: 12.7 km (7.9 km) | Profile: Almost completely flat | Going: Very good, muddy in places. Sheltered on trails, tracks and road through urban riverside, parkland and woodland | General Stores: Stockton-on-Tees; Middlesbrough [0.5 km]
Section 13 of the Teesdale Way is 12.7 km (7.9 km) from the riverside landing stage in Preston Park, Eaglescliffe (NZ 430156) to the car park of Teessaurus Park on the Riverside Business Park, Middlesbrough (NZ 486217). Upon leaving the grounds of Preston Park the section breaks down into two distinct phases either side of the A66 trunk road over the River Tees. The first half takes place in an area of recent development (and where more may yet take place). It is wide and open with a busy road artery running through it under which we unobtrusively pass to enter a quiet area on the river’s floodplain that in turn leads us to the lakes and reed beds of Bowesfield Nature Reserve.
Shortly after leaving the reserve we reach the A66 where on the other side of the bridge we enter Stockton itself, where our surroundings become much more urban and commercial. Leaving the river on Boathouse Lane we cross a major road to rejoin the trail on the other side of a busy retail park. Soon afterwards we pass the replica of Captain Cook’s ship, H.M. Bark ‘Endeavour’ that is permanently moored on the River Tees. A wide, well surfaced and at times busy, footpath takes us past more of Stockton’s many bridges – the Millenium Bridge, Princess of Wales Bridge and the sinuous double humps of the Infinity Bridge – that link the town with Durham University’ sprawling Stockton campus before we eventually arrive at Stockton’s prestigious White Water Centre located alongside the Tees Barrage that is responsible for maintaining the river level on the Stockton side.
Beyond the barrage and out of the park the trail continues, squeezed between the river and Portrack Nature Reserve, still on excellent surfaces that are shared with cyclists (so watch out behind). After passing under the A19 Tees viaduct towering high above, we arrive at the majestic Newport Vertical Lift Bridge. Over the bridge and across the river the trail continues downstream following Middlesbrough’s Ironmaster’s Heritage Trail to the car park where the section ends amongst the life-size, skeletal steel dinosaurs of Teessaurus Park.