Teesdale Way Section 14 (South Bank to Teesmouth or Redcar)
Section 14 offers two options to finish (or start) the Teesdale Way: the first is between South Bank and the breakwater at South Gare, Teesmouth (of interest particularly, to those keen to follow the course of the River Tees); the other between South Bank and the seaside resort of Redcar with its hospitality, entertainment and transport links. Getting back from Teesmouth will require a taxi, private transport or a couple more pleasant miles along the beach to Redcar. Because of the rail link in particular, this section will make an excellent day walk.
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Stats at a Glance
Distance 11.9 km (7.4 miles) | Height Gain 30 m/99 ft | Maximum Elevation 11 m/36 ft (Lackenby) | Going Generally good, muddy in places. Quite exposed on trails, tracks and road through a semi-industrialised area, nature reserve and coastal area | Hospitality & Supplies South Bank (All) [0.5 km]; Dormanstown [0.5 km] | Start Railway Station, South Bank NZ 533212 | Finish Gun Emplacement, South Gare, Teesmouth NZ 556278 | Grade Gentle
Distance 10.6 km/6.5 miles | Height Gain 28 m/93 ft | Maximum Elevation 11 m/36 ft (Lackenby) | Going Generally good, muddy in places. Quite exposed on trails, tracks and road through a semi-industrialised area, nature reserve and coastal area | Hospitality & Supplies South Bank (All) [0.5 km]; Dormanstown [0.5 km]; Redcar (All) | Start Railway Station, South Bank NZ 533212 | Finish Redcar Beacon, Redcar NZ 602253 | Grade Gentle
From the footbridge at South Bank Railway Station, follow the trail east, in the direction indicated by Jim Roberts’ beautifully fabricated Teesdale Way fingerpost (the one with the boots at the foot of the post) and past the now defunct coking ovens on the opposite side of the railway (for as long as they remain standing).
The trail makes its way through the infrastructure around what little remains of the steel industry at Lackenby by a series of bridges, tunnels, steps, ramps and walkways and includes a section that is historically prone to flooding. If it’s been wet for an extended period it will almost certainly be flooded on the trail in the low area between a high concrete wall and the railway (see the image on the map). It’s not too deep but completely obstructs the trail so, unless you’re prepared, you’ll get your feet wet. It can be worked around however, though not very easily, using the road above it. This section might not be to everyone’s taste but it’s one of my favourites, because it’s so different and is unlikely to last much longer.
You’ll find a poignant memorial plaque to the crew of a WWII Lancaster bomber on Lord McGowan Bridge where the trail reaches the A1085 trunk road. Then it’s on to the Coatham Marsh Nature Reserve after a short section alongside the road, past the site of Steel House, the former steelworks main offices.
After the footbridge over the railway within the reserve, there’s a couple of ways of leaving: either by heading towards the car-park to see the last (or first) of Jim Roberts’ waymarks which claims that it’s 100 miles to Dufton (neat but not quite that far) OR by the published route which leads directly out of the reserve without doing a dog-leg to the car-park. Either way, the route takes to a quiet road that goes all the way to the finish at the end of the breakwater, through what was once the village of Warrenby. After crossing a remnant of the railway that once ran along the gare the route turns right, over the golf course (before 2015 I was inclined to continue on the road, past the blast furnace when it was operational, then wander through the dunes amongst the WWII military installations).
A yellow-topped post across the fairway indicates the footpath. As you approach the dunes you can make your decision to turn left or right: South Gare or Redcar? If you’re going to South Gare you head through a large gap in the dunes, turn left on the beach and away you go. 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 cement. The balled slag can be seen everywhere 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 sites (this part of the coast was heavily defended during WWII). The breakwater itself has three emplacements for much bigger guns that overlooked the mouth of the Tees, the most easterly of which is used as the start/finish of the Teedale Way. Access to the lighthouse isn’t prohibited but neither is it straightforward. It’s a popular spot for fishermen but is exposed so should be treated with respect, especially when conditions are rough.
If you choose to head to Redcar you can continue, likewise, to the beach, turn right and just follow your nose. You can’t miss the 80 ft Redcar Beacon or ‘vertical pier’ and even though they’ve filled up the bay with wind turbines, Redcar remains a popular seaside resort with all of the attractions you’d expect. Alternatively, you can turn right before the dunes and continue on the trail alongside the golf course, there’s little difference.