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 in County Durham). Despite a relatively flat profile, mainly through fields and some riparian woodland, this section of the Teesdale Way is actually quite challenging. Depending on the season, the wooded section after Newsham Bank can be very muddy/very rugged, overgrown and poorly defined in places. At several points along the trail it is possible to encounter Giant Hogweed with its potential for causing chemically induced burns, making full leg cover and maybe a stick or walking pole advisable. THERE IS A GPS ROUTE FILE AVAILABLE FOR THIS SECTION AS A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM THE SHOP.
Stats at a Glance
Distance 11.7 km (7.3 miles) | Height Gain 41 m/135 ft | Maximum Elevation 31 m/101 ft | Profile Gently undulating | 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 | Supplies Middleton One Row; Yarm
Heading east from the Water Fountain on The Front, in Middleton One Row, the trail takes briefly to the village green before disappearing on an intimate track between a row of houses and their gardens from where it descends to a narrow stretch of woodland alongside the river. Before leaving Middleton One Row it’s worth pointing out that the runway at Teesside International Airport, previously the WWII bomber station of RAF Middleton St George, is less than a kilometre away. After reaching the river, the trail soon switches to field edges before the distinctive form of Low Middleton’s octagonal 19th century dovecote comes into view.
As it gets closer, so the vegetation along the trail begins to change. For many years this part of the route – as well as points elsewhere along this section – has been encroached upon by Giant Hogweed. Contained in its sap is a substance called Furocoumarin, which is known to cause phytophotodermatitis (sensitivity of the skin to sunlight) and which can result in recurrent blistering, days, weeks or even years later. There are signs with telephone numbers to report infestations. This is acted upon but the plant is so pervasive that new stuff grows almost immediately. I’ve never had a problem with it but you should obviously take care – 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 from 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. At this point the route turns inland, crossing the river terrace by way of Fatten Hill after which the climbing is done for the day. Past Newsham Grange and just before encountering the site of the deserted medieval village of Newsham, the trail leaves the lane, descending Newsham Bank to rejoin the river (if you walk the short distance along the road to view the DMV, you can return through the fields via a footpath which offers a lovely view back up the river).
This next stretch of riparian 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 occasional patches of Giant Hogweed – leg cover, decent footwear and maybe a stick or pole are advisable as suggested previously. Leaving the wood, the trail makes a wide sweep of the floodplain circumscribing the slope of the old riverbank. At the time of writing, 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 (the name translates as ‘Aislac’s Farm’ and is one of the few Viking place names on the north side of the river), the trail passes through more woodland with duckboards in various states of repair. Currently, the older stuff is showing signs of wear, with some unsupported planks here and there. From Aislaby, the walk into Yarm is brief and straight forward, past attractive properties with their riverside landings, the distinctive tower of St Mary Magdalene Church and the seemingly endless span created by the 43 arches of Yarm Viaduct, before it emerges onto the road at the northern end of Yarm Bridge with North Yorkshire across the river and The Blue Bell directly opposite.