Teesdale Way Section 11 (Middleton One Row to Yarm)
Section 11 of the Teesdale Way links the County Durham village of Middleton One Row to the North Yorkshire market town of Yarm although the trail itself stays entirely in County Durham. Despite a relatively flat profile – mainly through fields and some riparian woodland – this section of the Teesdale Way is fairly challenging. Depending on the season, the wooded section after Newsham Bank can be muddy, rugged, overgrown and poorly defined in places. Giant Hogweed, with its potential to cause chemically induced burns, proliferates in places along the trail, making full leg cover and a stick or walking pole advisable.
Stats at a Glance
Distance 11.7 km/7.3 miles | Height Gain 41 m/135 ft | Maximum Elevation 31 m/101 ft (Middleton One Row) | Going Generally good, muddy in places. Sheltered on trails, tracks and road through farmland and woodlands. The trail is indistinct out of the wood after Newsham | Hospitality & Supplies Middleton One Row (Ho); Yarm (All) | Start Water fountain, The Front, Middleton One Row NZ 351123 | Finish Blue Bell Public House, Yarm NZ 418312 | Grade Moderate | GPS File
Heading east from the water fountain on The Front, in Middleton One Row, the route crosses the village green onto a trail between a row of houses and their gardens descending to a narrow stretch of riparian woodland on the Tees. Before leaving Middleton One Row it’s worth remembering that nearby Middleton St George was the location of a WWII bomber station mainly used by the Royal Canadian Air Force (the runway of what is now Teesside International Airport is less than a kilometre away). Also on the edge of the airfield, is the c13th church of St George the churchyard of which, unsurprisingly, contains headstones of WWII aircrew.
Shortly after Low Middleton’s distinctively octagonal c19th dovecote comes into view the vegetation along the trail begins to thicken and the first instances of Giant Hogweed are found. In its sap is a substance called Furocoumarin which is thought to cause phytophotodermatitis (sensitivity of the skin to sunlight) the results of which can be recurrent blistering, days, weeks or even years later. There are signs with telephone numbers to report infestations however the plant is so pervasive that new stuff grows almost immediately. I’ve never had a problem but it’s worth bearing in mind – leg cover and a stick might be advisable.
Aross the river from the embankment at Low Middleton is Low Moor Gauging Station, the lowest station on the River Tees, where river levels have been recorded since 1969. Before the Tees Barrage was completed in 1995 the tidal point was a couple of kilometres downstream at High Worsall. The route leaves the river at Low Middleton, to cross the spur of the river terrace at Fatten Hill, the only significant ascent of the day. Beyond Newsham Grange – adjacent to the site of the deserted medieval village of Newsham – the trail descends Newsham Bank to rejoin the river. If you walk the short distance along the road to view the DMV – identifiable only as a series of low but nonetheless intriguing earthworks – you can return through the fields via a footpath with the same lovely views across the river towards the North York Moors.
This next stretch of woodland is 1.5 km long. Depending on the season and/or conditions the going can be quite difficult: rough, overgrown and boggy depending on the weather and the time of the year, and with more patches of Giant Hogweed. After the wood, the trail makes a wide sweep of the floodplain and an elevated section slope of riverbank. My experience of this part of the trail is that the correct route, which makes use of waymarked stiles, is completely overgrown and the stiles dilapidated. The only reasonable option is to follow the field edge where a new trail seems to be in the making.
Approaching the village of Aislaby which translates as ‘Aislac’s Farm’ and is one of the few Norse place names on the north side of the river, the trail passes through more woodland where duckboards have been installed – in various states of repair. Currently, the older stuff is showing signs of wear with unsupported planks here and there. The remaining distance to Yarm is brief and straight forward, past riverside landings and the distinctive tower of St Mary Magdalene Church as well as the endless span of Yarm Railway Viaduct’s 43 arches, to the road at the northern end of Yarm Bridge and The Blue Bell pub directly opposite.