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A riverside hike from wild Pennines to the North Sea — Teesdale Way

daddydowse (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A riverside hike from wild Pennines to the North Sea — Teesdale Way

Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson

6-13

days

3-6 h

/ day

95.0 mi

3,425 ft

4,000 ft

The Teesdale Way is a long-distance hike that follows the River Tees from the Cumbrian Pennines to the North Sea. The much-contrasting route celebrates breathtaking natural landscapes, historical sites and engineering heritage.

Starting from Dufton, the trail follows the Pennine Way National Trail over rugged upland and into pastoral countryside to Middleton-in-Teesdale. Here, the Way becomes its own and follows the widening Tees to Barnard Castle, around Darlington, past Yarm, and on through Stockton and Middlesbrough to finish on the golden sands of Redcar Seafront.

The official route is 92 miles (148 km). However, with a few detours to some awesome sites, as well as the extension to finish on the coast, this Collection totals 95 miles (153 km).

Stage 1 is the most challenging of the itinerary as it crosses remote upland terrain with little in the way of shelter and civilisation. Preparation is essential for this stage; make sure you have adequate clothing for the conditions, navigational aids, a first aid kit, torch, and enough food and water. From this point, things become much easier as the trail winds through gentle lowland dotted with villages and small towns. The final section takes you through an urban landscape where facilities are abundant.

The River Tees forms the boundary between the ceremonial counties of County Durham and North Yorkshire before it flows through the industrial landscape of Teesside. As such, you step in and out of the counties with every river crossing.

Highlights along the Way include: High Cup Nick, the best example of a glaciated u-shaped valley in Northern England; Cauldron Snout, a rocky ravine through which the infant Tees spectacularly flows; High Force, one of the tallest and most impressive waterfalls in England; Low Force, a beautiful series of cascades on the Tees; Barnard Castle, a mighty 12th-century fortress; Egglestone Abbey, a spectacular 12th-century ruin; Piercebridge Roman Bridge; Yarm bridges; and Tees Transporter Bridge, the longest of its kind in the world and an iconic symbol of Teesside's engineering heritage.

In this Collection, I’ve split the route into seven stages, averaging 14 miles (23 km). As stage 5 is above average distance, I suggest how you can split the hike. Of course, you can divide the Collection into as many days as you are comfortable with or walk any single stage. Public transport links are not great on the first couple of stages (pick-ups may be needed if you want to divide stages) but this improves as you progress.

Aside from a tough start, the walking is fairly leisurely throughout. Anyone with average fitness and ability will find this trail manageable.

The choice of which direction to walk is entirely yours. In this Collection, I opt for west to east as it follows the river downhill, with prevailing winds, to finish on the coast. It works perfectly well the opposite direction — especially if you are looking to challenge yourself — and has the added bonus of getting the industrial part out of the way first. East to west also means rising into an increasingly wild landscape for an epic finish on High Cup Nick.

Each stage in this Collection finishes near accommodation. However, places to stay are not always abundant so it is worth planning in advance and booking ahead. Places for food and drink are plentiful en route.

Getting to the start of the trail in Dufton via public transport is not easy. The nearest train station is Appleby-in-Westmorland, which is served by direct trains from Carlisle. From Appleby, you can either walk 3.8 miles (6.1 km) to Dufton (you can do this via footpaths through pleasant countryside) or arrange a taxi. Things are much easier at the end in Redcar, which has a train station and good bus links.

As previously mentioned, the first part of the Teesdale Way follows the Pennine Way National Trail. To see a Collection on the Pennine Way, click here: komoot.com/collection/887503. From Middlesbrough Dock, the waymarked Tees Link provides a connection to the Cleveland Way National Trail. To see a Collection on the Cleveland Way, click here: komoot.com/collection/888432.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    07:07
    15.8 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,625 ft
    1,275 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Stage 1 is the toughest and wildest section of the Teesdale Way. With breathtaking nature throughout, it is an epic start.

    The first half explores a remote and unforgiving landscape where the weather can deteriorate quickly. It is essential that you are well-prepared, have adequate clothing for the conditions, navigation aids, and enough food and water.

    From Dufton village green, …

  • Difficult
    06:34
    15.4 mi
    2.4 mph
    600 ft
    1,075 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Cascading waterfalls, calm woodland, a crumbling 12th-century fortress and classic Upper Teesdale countryside combine on this hike.

    From Saur hill bridge, descend steadily alongside the Tees to Low Force, a beautiful series of cascades on the river. Along this section of Upper Teesdale, the river tumbles over the Whin Sill, a layer of hard dolerite rock which formed 295 million …

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  • Difficult
    05:55
    14.3 mi
    2.4 mph
    225 ft
    525 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage meanders along the canopied banks of the River Tees through pastoral farmland dotted with sleepy villages and historic sites.

    To start, hike east through Barnard Castle past Bowes Museum and descend through fields to the river. At Egglestone Abbey Bridge, the trail traditionally crossed the river and continued along the south bank to Whorlton. After Whorlton Bridge was …

  • Intermediate
    04:18
    10.4 mi
    2.4 mph
    175 ft
    250 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This leisurely stage explores Roman remains and treasured architecture as it meanders alongside an idyllic section of the River Tees.

    Before leaving Piercebridge, it is worth crossing the river to see the remains of Piercebridge Roman Bridge, which once carried a mighty road, Dere Street, across the Tees. Upon retracing your steps, head through fields and follow the road to …

  • Difficult
    07:06
    17.1 mi
    2.4 mph
    450 ft
    525 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The longest stage crosses the county boundary between Yorkshire and Durham four times as it hops back and forth over the Tees.

    With 17.1 miles (27.5 km) to contend with, the distance is above average for this itinerary. However, as the hike follows well-maintained paths over level terrain, it is not too taxing. (For a suggestion on how to split …

  • Intermediate
    03:42
    8.97 mi
    2.4 mph
    175 ft
    200 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stunning nature and breathtaking engineering combine on the penultimate stage, which ambles along the river’s floodplain to Stockton-on-Tees.

    From the longest to the shortest, this leisurely stage is a change of pace from the previous hike. If you are feeling ambitious, stages 6 and 7 can be combined into one 20.5-mile (33 km) route as both follow easygoing paths over …

  • Difficult
    05:18
    13.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    175 ft
    150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage celebrates the industrial and engineering heritage of Teesside by visiting some truly iconic structures along the river.

    From Stockton, you head east along the river and soon step into Portrack Marsh Nature Reserve, the last remaining wetland on the lower Tees. You continue along the north bank until Newport Bridge, a striking industrial feature that opened in …

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    95.0 mi
  • Duration
    39:59 h
  • Elevation
    3,425 ft4,000 ft

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A riverside hike from wild Pennines to the North Sea — Teesdale Way

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