Teesmouth National Nature Reserve

Teesmouth is a National Nature Reserve with a difference, it is surrounded by one of the largest concentrations of heavy industry in Britain. The reserve covers 350 hectares in two sections separated by Hartlepool Power Station. North Gare lies to the north, and Seal Sands to the south.

For North Gare, access is on foot from the car park, off the A178. Old sea walls, sand dunes and areas of salt marsh, mingle across the site. The dunes and salt marsh support a wide variety of plants , and in winter large flocks of birds roost at Seaton Snook.

For Seal Sands, leave your vehicle in the car park at Cowpen Marsh, cross the road, turn left and use the Seal Sands Easy Access Path alongside Greatham Creek. The mudflats are exposed at lowtide, and are home to Common and Grey Seals and the winter home for hundreds of Shelduck. Two observation hides are available.

At any time of the year, interesting birds can be seen. Migratory ducks and waders have always visited the estuary.  In winter, Knot from Greenland and the Canadian Arctic, Shelduck, Teal and Sanderling are seen. In spring, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Snipe nest. Sandwich Terns, having bred further north, stay for a few weeks during July and August. Cormorant, Curlew and Redshank arrive in large numbers for the autumn.

More than 20,000 individual waterfowl visit Teesmouth during the year. Durham University research since the 1960s has enable Teesmouth to make an enormous contribution to international scientific understanding of wading birds. Apart from the wildfowl and waders, Short Eared Owls hunt across the North Gare, while Merlin and Peregrine enjoy rich pickings on Seal Sands. Skylark and Meadow Pipit nest on the fixed dunes.

Of all the plants here, perhaps the most spectacular are four different species of Marsh Orchids which flower in June and July on the damp dune grassland behind North Gare sands. Although less colourful, there are two nationally scarce species of grass. Sand Couch, Marram Grass and Lyme Grass colonise the dunes.

Despite the enormous impact of industry on the area, the reserve is not the only part of the Tees Estuary to have special significance for nature. The reserve boundaries encompass two sites of Special Scientific Interest, together with parts of a further four, these make up the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Special Protection Area and Ramsar site, which is of international importance for wildlife.

Teesmouth National Nature Reserve is managed by Natural England, who welcome voluntary help on the site.

The reserve is located one mile east of the A178, north of Middlesbrough. It can be accessed by bus on Stagecoach service 1/1A, which operates every half an hour between Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.

Teesmouth Field Centre Tel: (01429) 264912

The Howls and The Batts

The Howls and The Batts are linked woodland nature reserves managed by the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, and the Dalton Piercy Parish Council respectively. They are situated near the village of Dalton Piercy following the valley of Char Beck.

The woods are dominated by an Ash and Sycamore canopy with Hawthorn, Elder and Gooseberry. Spring flowers include Early Purple Orchids, Violets, Lesser Celandines and the locally uncommon Twayblades.

The Char Beck gives the reserve an added dimension and plants that like the damper conditions and soils thrive, including Marsh Marigolds, Meadowsweet and the foreign invader Himalayan Balsam. 53 Bird species have been recorded on the sites and the summer is a good time to see many of the summer warblers and the occasional Spotted Flycatcher.

At one time this deep wooded valley was going to be flooded to provide a reservoir, but fortunately plans were changed and its ancient woodland and wildlife have survived. It is owned by Hartlepool Water Company and has been managed by the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust since 1991.

The village is linked to Elwick, one mile to the north, by a footpath - and other public rights of way lead over the fields to Hartlepool. One of these footpaths follows the course of the Char beck which flows across the eastern end of the green into a long stretch of meadow known locally as the 'Batts'. Early in the 20th century this was once a popular picnic spot for families from Hartlepool who brought their children into the countryside at weekends and during school holidays.

The Batts by Chris Scaife

Dalton Piercy Village, Hartlepool. Grid Ref: NZ 643 316

Summerhill Local Nature Reserve

Summerhill is a 100 acre Country Park located on the western edge of Hartlepool, transformed for the benefit of conservation, outdoor sport and recreation. The 65,000 trees that were planted in the late 1990's are maturing into substantial woodland. Two Ponds with viewing platforms and grassland meadows are now also becoming more established.

The site now provides an essential link between the town and the country. Summerhill is noted for the range of activities available – there are walks, adventure play areas, a trim-trail, a free-to-use BMX course and a Boulder Park. The Summerhill team provide activities for schools and community groups, environmental, outdoor activities and historical studies.

The site is open 24 hours a day; the Visitor Centre is open 6 days a week and is an excellent venue for meetings and events.

Contact the Visitor Centre for activities in:
• Orienteering and map reading
• Rock Climbing
• Archery
• High Level Ropes Course
• Nature Study
• Archaeology
• Ornithology
• Arts and Crafts

The site also hosts the Hartlepool Cycle Clinic who offer a free repair service carried out by qualified staff.

Summerhill is a site of archaeological interest and is home to a replica Iron Age Roundhouse. The Torque carving by David Salkeld at the entrance to Summerhill, has inset panels which relate to the Iron age and Roman history of the area.

Summerhill by Hartlepool Countryside Team

To reach Summerhill head down Summerhill Lane, just off Catcote Road. Parking is available in the car park next to the Visitor Centre.  Bus number 3 runs near to Summerhill – ask for the stop beside English Martyrs School. Mobility scooters can be booked in advance.

Call: (01429) 284584



Website    www.sunnysummerhill.com

Spion Kop Cemetery Local Nature Reserve

This historic cemetery overlooking the sea, was designed by John Dobson in 1856 and was formed from a combination of sand dune and ship's ballast. Spion Kop Cemetery Local Nature Reserve provides an unusual mix of coastal, limestone and industrial heritage habitats that produces rich dune grassland of such a high quality, it is unique in Hartlepool and rare within the Tees Valley. The natural sward is relatively low, up to about 30 cms and is characterised by fine leaved grasses.

In 2004 the site was granted Local Nature Reserve status and has been sensitively managed to encourage the natural flora and fauna which includes Thrift, Pyramidal Orchid, and Lesser Meadow Rue.

Spion Cop by Hartlepool Countryside Wardens

Head towards Hartlepool Headland on the A179 straight over the round about onto Cleveland Rd/West View Rd before turning left onto Old Cemetery Road. On-road parking is available outside the cemetery.

Grid Ref: NZ511 349

Go To Top