Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Entrance to the River Tees

The coastline between Saltburn and Hartlepool requires a degree of imagination to blend with a sea kayakers' sense of wilderness adventure. The extensive surf beaches form the boundary between the wild rolling swells of the North Sea and the wild tangled industrial interior. We arrived at Saltburn to find a larger than expected swell generating around a metre and a half of surf.

From the car park this didn't seem to be much of a daunting prospect, but contact with the first wave brought a gritty sting to the eyes, adrenaline to the blood and a fresh burst of power to the blade. Not all of us made it beyond the break which left a daunting but eventually entertaining ride back in to the beach.

Having had all the excitement we could bear at Saltburn, we relocated to South Gare at the entrance to the River Tees in search of an easier launch. The steelworks dominates a desolate landscape here.

There is an eclectic collection of buildings here in precarious existence amongst the dunes and along the breakwater shore. The yacht club beside the old lifeboat station has an old style cafĂ© that serves a traditional range of greasy delights for cold hungry yachtsmen. Kayakers are welcome too but don’t expect to find muesli on the menu.

We crossed the river past Seaton Carew and into Hartlepool Bay. The brightly painted Georgian buildings along the Hartlepool Headland made for a jolly backdrop to the end of our journey.

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