Natural England this week opened (18 September) the latest stretch of the England Coast Path, increasing access to the magnificent Tees Valley coastline with a new 10-mile route from Newport Bridge to North Gare.
Connecting the towns of Billingham, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, the route will pass key tourist attractions such as the Transporter Bridge, the RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve and the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve, helping people to explore the natural and diverse wildlife which have made the area their home.
Walkers will be able to enjoy seal viewing areas around Greatham Creek and open wetlands at RSBP Saltholme, where a range of birds such as lapwing and yellow wagtail thrive.
The opening means there is now a 156-mile continuous portion section of the England Coast Path in place, running from Filey in North Yorkshire to Amble in Northumberland, making it the 6th longest National Trail in England.
Natural England is currently establishing a 2,700-mile path around the entire English coastline, with today’s stretch the twelfth to open. When completed, it will be the longest continuous coastal walking route in the world. It will also become a National Trail – the nation’s finest and most popular long-distance paths.
Natural England’s Chair Tony Juniper, who attended today’s event at RSPB Saltholme, said:
I am delighted to be here today to mark the opening of this new stretch in the Tees Valley, a region which is renowned for its rich landscape, wildlife, heritage and culture.
This stretch will give walkers access to 10 miles of beautiful coastline, enabling people to visit some wonderful nature conservation sites along the estuary. We know that being outside in the natural world is really good for people’s health and wellbeing and I hope the path will bring benefits for generations to come.
The new path takes into account the area’s important coastal habitats, including the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Special Protection Area (SPA), and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) such as the Tees and Hartlepool Foreshore and Wetlands, Seal Sands, Cowpen Marsh and Seaton Dunes and Common.
The route will incorporate parts of the estuary that were previously inaccessible to the public or very difficult to reach. Well over half of the stretch is brand new access, with the trail involving new construction of causeway, boardwalks and footbridges.