As my next couple of walks in Scotland would require a couple of difficult river crossings, weather would be a key part of when I could undertake these walks. Unfortunately, the weather in Scotland was currently dreadful with heavy snow falling in most parts; so it was back to the North East coast of England. I drove to and parked in Port Clarence close to the Transporter Bridge just outside of Middlesbrough. I then caught the #1 bus to Hartlepool and then the connecting #23 bus which would take me the short distance to Crimdon.
There had been a severe frost overnight and the path I was walking on had many icy patches. I was following the England Coast Path again, which ran along the cliff edge. I decided to divert down onto the beach, as the tide was out and the sand was frozen which made for easy and speedy progress. I passed the old pier from the Steetley Magnesium works, now demolished and replaced by housing. The works were built in 1937 to extract magnesium from seawater, the plant finally closed down in 2005. I had made an effort to climb back up the cliffs to take a look at the Old cemetery, also known as the Spion Kop cemetery, which sits high on the dunes and has now become a local nature reserve.
As I approached the Headland of Hartlepool, the wind, as forecast began to get up. By the time I had passed the Heugh Shore battery the gusts had reached 30+mph! I rounded the Headland and continued around the port of Hartlepool. The eye was drawn to the tall masts of the Frigate HMS Trincomalee, built in 1812 and now renovated, it is the star attraction of the adjacent Royal Navy Museum.
I joined the main promenade as it made its way out of Hartlepool and continued the short distance to Seaton Carew. Not really a great deal to see in Seaton Carew, so I just continued along the promenade further south. The promenade continued for about a mile before stopping at the start of a large dune area. The ECP signs had long since disappeared so I made my way through the myriad of paths through the dunes. I was heading for a car park on the RSPB site, which I eventually found after crossing a couple of golf fairways.
The road to the car park met up with the A178 which I continued south along for the next 4 miles. Although quite busy there was a reasonable verge for most of the way. A few small sections of the road had a recently built footpath, I suspect for the ECP, which unfortunately where not open yet. It became very tough walking on the verge down the road, especially with a very strong headwind and the rain.
As I progressed down the road, the view southwards had become increasingly industrial with the large plants of Teeside getting ever closer. I get a rather good view of the Brent Delta – drilling & production platform which is currently being decommissioned after its 24,000 tonnes was brough back from Shell’s Brent oilfield in the North Sea. Eventually I reached Port Clarence where I had parked my car. However, the plan was now to walk to the first bridging point across the River Tees, the Newport bridge. I could have used The Transporter Bridge, however, unlike the similar bridge in Newport, South Wales you cannot walk over the bridge, so it was to be the Newport Bridge for me 3 miles upstream. My plan was to walk to the first bridging point and then walk along the opposite bank of the Tees back to the Transporter Bridge on the Middlesbrough side. However, I had not counted on the effect of the strong winds on the suspended gondola, which was rather a surprise when I reached the end of the walk to find the Transporter Bridge CLOSED! With my car now on the opposite bank of the river I had to find the bus station and get a bus out to Port Clarence, which I managed to do without much fuss.
I must admit I don’t mind walking past and around industrial areas which are certainly expansive across Teeside. The smells and noise coming from these industries pervades the air. It had certainly been an interesting walk, with the gloom and light disappearing fast I was tired with the 7 hour slog. Now it just required me to get into the car and drive around to Redcar to my B&B for the night.
Distance today = 24 miles
Total distance = 3,543 miles