The River Tees rises at Tees Head, an exposed and remote spot at an elevation of 760 m on the eastern slopes of Cross Fell overlooking Cow Green Reservoir and a great swathe of Upper Teesdale. You’ll find it just off the Pennine Way, approximately 1.2 km ESE of the cairn on the summit of Cross Fell and 2 km NNW of the radar station on Great Dun Fell, helpfully picked out of the vast landscape by a stone boundary marker.
On its north-facing side the boundary marker is inscribed with the initials ‘B | T’ and ‘F 36’ on the south face. The B may be for Blencarn, possibly originating from the Blencarns of Keisley near Dufton who owned lands around Birkdale to the east; T is for Thanet, originating from the Earl of Thanet whose manor was the parish of Dufton. ‘F’ may stand for ‘Fleming’, which could be the name of the landowner, presumably at the time the marker was erected – maybe 1936? (feel free to leave a comment if you have any information that might help).
Meanwhile, the North Sea lies 99 miles away for the source of the nascent river while Cow Green Reservoir is but a puny 8.5 miles distant. Before it reaches the reservoir it’s joined by many sikes and unnamed streams plus a more substantial tributary in the form of Trout Beck running off Great Dun Fell from the impressive lead mining feature known as Dun Fell Hush. The Tees’ sweeping arc provides a northern limit to the western half of Moor House – Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve.
Location NY 699340 (Boundary Stone)
Cross Fell Cairn
The Pennine Way between Cross Fell and Great Dun Fell © The Durham Cow
The boundary stone at Tees Head is inscribed BT & F36 © The Durham Cow
Tees Head Boundary Stone
Walkers inspect the boundary stone at the source of the River Tees © The Durham Cow
River Tees Source
The River Tees rises at 760 m on the slopes of Cross Fell, Cumbria © The Durham Cow
Bridges on the Tyne. “Tees Source.” Bridges on the Tees, 2007, https://bridgesonthetyne.co.uk/teessrce.html. Accessed 13 October 2020.
Mannex, P. J. History, Topography & Directory of Westmorland. Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1849. Google Books. Accessed 13 October 2020.