Dave Barlow © Cleveland Naturalists’ Field Club. 17th April 2015
TEESDALE – The River Tees from its rise to the sea.
From its birth on the windswept flanks of Cross Fell the river travels for 85 miles through rugged moorland, wooded valleys and farmland to the industrial areas of Teesside and the sea.
One if the most spectacular areas in the country, Upper Teesdale contains over 140 plants that colonised the area 12,000 years ago when the last ice sheets melted. The climate there today is still described as sub-arctic. With volcanic basalts and Dolerite intruding through the limestone the conditions continue to support a rich diversity of alpine plant species such as the spring gentian and birds-eye primrose.
Cauldron Snout and High Force waterfalls cascade over the whin sill as the river falls down the valley where woodland edges the rocky river banks and hay meadows carpet the lower slopes of the moorland. The valley widens downstream and the river quietens as it passes stone farmhouses, small fields and traditional dry stone walls.
The lower reaches of the Tees flow into a landscape far removed from the majestic and wild areas of its birth. Here heavy industry developed around the mouth of the Tees which became one of the busiest ports in the world. The resulting pollution from both the industry and the human population that grew around it had a terrible impact on the wildlife of the area. Fortunately there came an initiative to improve the water quality of the Tees and the estuary has seen the return of good colonies of common and atlantic grey seals. Salmon swim up river, otter are frequently seen and the estuary is once again a valuable feeding station for migrating sea birds and waders.
Below you can see Jo’s video slide show of The Tees from its Rise to the Sea