Teesdale Way Section 14a (South Bank to Teesmouth)

Section 14 offers two options to finish the Teesdale Way. This one links South Bank to the breakwater at South Gare, Teesmouth, from where you’ll need to walk into Redcar for transport or have your own waiting on the pier. Section 14b takes you directly to Redcar. Both routes pass through Coatham Marsh Nature Reserve and what was once the village of Warrenby after which you’ll need to make your decision. THERE IS A GPS ROUTE FILE AVAILABLE FOR THIS SECTION AS A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM THE SHOP.

Stats at a Glance

Distance 11.9 km (7.4 miles) | Height Gain 30 m/99 ft | Maximum Elevation 11 m/36 ft | Profile Flat | Going Generally good, muddy in places. Quite exposed on trails, tracks and road through a semi-industrialised area, nature reserve and coastal area | General Stores South Bank [0.5 km]; Dormanstown [0.5 km]

From the footbridge at South Bank Railway Station, follow the trail east as indicated by the sculptured Teesdale Way fingerpost (there are two, but I mean the one with the boots at the foot of the post). This will lead you past the defunct coking ovens on the opposite side of the railway – still proudly displaying the name Dorman Long.

After this it’s a disorientating sequence of bridges, tunnels, steps, ramps, walkways and a very wet section emerging from the Lackenby Steelworks. If it’s been wet for an extended period it will almost certainly be flooded in the low area between a high concrete wall and the railway. It’s difficult to pass but can be worked around via the road on the right. Alternatively any means of keeping your feet dry should work as it’s not too deep.

Eventually the trail reaches the wide and busy A1085 trunk road at Lord McGowan Bridge where there’s another Teesdale Way sculpted waymark and a memorial plaque on the bridge to the crew of a Lancaster bomber shot down mistakenly by ‘friendly fire’. The trail then passes Steel House, the former steelworks HQ and, after a kilometre or so, enters Coatham Marsh Nature Reserve.

You can leave the reserve – after crossing the railway – by the small car-park where you’ll encounter the last (or first) sculpted waymark, which announces it’s 100 miles to Dufton (neat but not quite that far) on the Teesdale Way. If you’re not bothered about ticking off the waymark, the published route leads out of the reserve without doing a dog-leg to the car-park. Instead, it takes a more direct route to the road in what was once the short-lived village of Warrenby. Turning left, it continues on the road and, just after where the section of preserved railway crosses the road, turns right, onto the golf course (often I’d continue on the road, past the blast furnace when it was operational, then take to the dunes, past some WWII military installations, heading for the beach).

Over the fairway, at about the 1 o’clock position, is a yellow-topped post indicating the footpath which is fairly easy to follow across the course to the dunes. This is where you make your decision: South Gare or Redcar? If you’re following this version of the route to the mouth of the Tees at South Gare Breakwater the trail takes you through a large gap in the dunes where you turn left on the beach and head for South Gare Lighthouse way in the distance. At any point along the beach it’s possible to turn left onto the gare which was constructed over a period of 23 years from 1861 using millions of tons of balled blast furnace slag and thousands of tons of cement. The balled slag can be seen all over the gare and has provided a long-lasting, diverse habitat for flora and fauna of many types.

Among the network of paths that criss-cross the dunes are several military installation (the most obvious one has almost been consumed by hungry sand on the beach) as this was a heavily defended coastline during WWII. It was anti-aircraft guns firing from these positions that brought down the misidentified British bomber that crashed close to the finish of the previous section. The breakwater itself has three emplacements for much bigger guns that overlooked the mouth of the Tees and faced out to sea. Access to the lighthouse isn’t prohibited but neither is it as easy as it could be. It is a popular spot for fishermen but due to its exposure and slippery, sloping footways it should be treated with respect, especially when conditions are rough.

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