We gathered on a reasonably bright morning at Hartlepool railway station for a short train journey south to Seaton Carew. You might have expected the train to be lightly-loaded at this time on a winter Sunday morning, but it seemed half the world was travelling and the two-coach train was bursting at the seams. The attractions of Sunday shopping or perhaps the big match due to place in Middlesbrough later in the day were more than enough for the limited resources of the train operator.
After the twelve of us had extricated ourselves at our destination we had more of a chance to introduce ourselves and to hear an outline of our walking route: out to the north side of the Tees estuary and then along the coast to back to Hartlepool and out to its famous Headland. After a short passage through residential streets we soon found ourselves heading out across easy-going fields and golf course to the sea, and on to the North Gare which is the pier on the north side of the river mouth. From here we could see several prominent landmarks: the remaining structures of the former steelworks backed by the Cleveland hills, the nuclear power station, and in the distance Middlesbrough’s distinctive transporter bridge. Out to sea we observed the shipping coming and going. A bit closer on the opposite side was the South Gare which we had visited on a previous walk.
From the pier we descended to the beach and walked north. Despite the nearby industry this was an attractive area to visit, with expansive dune-backed sands with good views in all directions. In front of us we could see the Headland which would be our final destination, but for now we aimed for Seaton Carew’s prominent and magnificent art-deco clock tower and shelter where we paused for a lunch stop.
Seaton Carew, our well-informed event coordinator told us, was a seaside resort developed in the nineteenth century by wealthy visitors from Darlington who stayed in the row of houses and hotels along the sea front and around the green. It’s still a popular destination for day trippers from Teesside and other parts of Hartlepool, and some of us took advantage of nearby opportunities for obtaining refreshment.
We continued northwards along the promenade back towards Hartlepool, eventually reaching the Marina. Here we saw evidence of much recent development, including new residences, boating facilities and the mooring for the PSS Wingfield Castle, formerly one of the ferries that crossed the River Humber prior to the opening of the Humber Bridge. Along with its museums this area would justify a further visit for more exploration, but for now we looked for a bus to take us the next couple of miles to the Headland, for the concluding part of our walk. A walkable seafront route for this part of our route has still to be developed.
The town of Hartlepool was originally in two parts, namely the older part now known as the Headland and the more modern town centre, previously West Hartlepool, and the two were formally merged in 1967. One of the most prominent buildings at the Headland is the Borough Hall, now an entertainment venue, and we also had time to look at St Hilda’s church which we had seen from afar at the beginning of our walk. Again on exploring this quiet but interesting place, helped by several useful information boards, we enjoyed extensive views in all directions including back towards Seaton Carew and the mouth of the Tees where we had started earlier in the day. We made a brief acquaintance with the legendary Hangus the Monkey, who was allegedly hanged as a spy during Napoleonic times, and ended at the Pot House for refreshment before dispersing, having enjoyed an informative and enjoyable day.
Thanks are due to Ian, our well-researched coordinator for the event, and to Ivor and Andrew for the photographs.