We opted to see the year out in County Durham and Cleveland in the north-east of England. We followed the river Tees from the wild open country of the Pennines to the North Sea. After the heavy rain we had experienced in the north of England over Christmas, High Force and Low Force were spectacular and on a sunny afternoon there were plenty of people around to marvel at the spectacle. We found a quieter spot for contemplation at Summerhill Force and Gibson’s Cave, although just a few minutes’ walk from the Bowlees car park.
At this time of year we like to tour around in the van and make the most of the seven hours or so of daylight. We followed the river through the lovely town of Barnard Castle, spending some time exploring the castle and the blue plaque trail and moved on to Darlington. This once thriving engineering town still had a lovely buzz about it in the December drizzle. We visited the Head of Steam Railway Museum and looked in wonder at the amazing Locomotion No. 1, the first passenger steam train.
From Darlington the Tees flows through industrial and urban areas but we still found plenty that is beautiful.
The Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough is a stunning piece of engineering from 100 years ago. The ‘bridge’ carries cars and pedestrians over the Tees in a cradle that is wound on cables across the river. Ducks, geese and hordes of lapwings entertained us while we explored the National Nature Reserve on the north side of the river and at the excellent Saltholme RSPB reserve.
We finished our trip on the fantastic stretch of sand at Saltburn-by-the-Sea. From the attractive and recently restored pier we watched the hardy surfers and we wandered around the pretty streets window shopping.
We stayed at:
The Crown at Mickleton in Teesdale – this is a small Caravan Club CL with a bathroom and all hard-standing. It was £20/night.
White Water Park Caravan Club Site in Stockton-On-Tees is about 20 minutes walk from Stockton town centre and 30 minutes walk to Thornaby railway station for trains to Darlington, Bishop Aukland and Saltburn and Redcar. We paid just short of £25/night.
We also had one night free camping to help the budget.