Nature's World
Take a
Trip
Down
the Tees

Our Living model means you can do it in metres rather than miles
At Nature's World we've created a 400m long living model of the Tees from source to sea, from High Force waterfall to the Tees Barrage. Along the bankside we've grown examples of the habitats found beside the river, including moorland, meadows and woodland.

You'll see examples of involvement with the Tees too - the Transporter Bridge, ICI, British Steel and models of important historic sites.

It's a unique insight into the environmental, historic and industrial significance of this great river.
And it's great fun - come and see for yourself

Click the map below to learn about the River Tees

Clickable River Tees Map


WILDLIFE
RING OUSEL Turdus torquatus 
A Bird of boulder strewn hillsides with a thick covering of heather for nesting the Ring Ousel is a characteristic bird of Upper Teesdale. It is one of the first summer visitors to return to the dale, often arriving before the last of the winter snows have melted. Back to the map

RED GROUSE Lagopus lagopus scoticus 
This is truly a British bird being found wild nowhere else in the world. It is common in the National Nature Reserve near Cow Green and Couldron Snout, and in springtime the cackling calls and display flights of male Red Grouse are enjoyed by the many visitors to the Dale. Back to the map
KINGFISHER Alcedo atthis 
In the quieter backwaters of the river from below High Force to Piercebridge Kingfishers can be found. Nesting in burrows excavated in the sandy riverbanks these winged jewels are the most colourful birds of the Tees Valley. Although less common in the urbanised areas of the lower river, in winter Kingfishers are sometimes found as far downstream as the Teesmouth. Back to the map
DIPPER Cinclus cinclus 
Unlike the Kingfisher, Dippers prefer the White water sections of the river and are rarely seen much below Broken Scar near Darlington. Often nesting under waterfalls and perching on boulders the Dipper frequently plunges into the stream where it literally walks under water, clinging onto the stones on the riverbed whilst it searches for aquatic insects. Back to the map
GOOSANDER Mergus merganser 
Since the 1970's these handsome fish eating ducks have become more frequent on the Tees and several pairs now breed especially in the Barnard Castle area. During winter and spring Goosanders can also be found between Preston and Yarm. Improvements in water quality in the lower Tees could benefit Goosander in the future. Back to the map
REDSHANK Tringa totanus 
With its red legs, distinct white wingbar and its scolding call the Redshank is a familiar bird of the Tees Marshes. During the 1990's migrant Redshanks have been much more common in the estuary. Although some tens of pairs remain to nest it is hoped that the breeding population will further increase with the active nature conservation projects now underway at Teesmouth. Back to the map
CORMORANT phalacrocorax carbo 
This is another species which has increased in recent years no doubt reflecting the improvements in water quality in the lower river. Cormorants are commonly found as far upstream as Eaglescliffe and are now a frequent sight at Stockton-on-Tees near the barrage. Back to the map
COMMON TERN Sterna hirundo 
More common terns now breed at Teesmouth than ever before, a reflection of safe nesting sites on industrial wetlands and a marked improvement in the overall quality of the estuary. In the late summer many hundreds of Common Terns join with other species of tern and gulls to feed on the periodic sprat wrecks which often occur in the river mouth at this time. Back to the map
COMMON SEAL Phoca vitulina 
After an absence of nearly 100 years the Common Seal has returned to its ancestral home of Seal Sands at Teesmouth. Now part of the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve this area of mudflats and tidal creeks not only supports the Common Seals which now breed, but also the Grey Seals and thousands of waterfowl. Back to the map
PLANTS
SPRING GENTIAN Gentiana verna 
The flora of Upper Teesdale is very special - a relic of the last Ice Age, of all of the rare plants which grow in this wild valley, none is more famous or sort-after by visitors than the Spring Gentian. From mid-May these incredibly blue flowers can be seen in a number of easily accessible areas. But be warned - they are strictly protected and must be left for all to enjoy. Back to the map
GLOBEFLOWER Trollius europaeus 
Along the side of the river and in damp meadows, especially in the area around Low Force, one of the less common members of the buttercup family, the Globeflower can be found. These plants have almost spherical deep butter coloured flowerheads and are known locally as 'Double Dumplings'. Back to the map
COMMON SPOTTED ORCHID Dactylorhiza fuschii 
Orchids of various species are found all along the Tees valley, and are particularly numerous in the meadows of the upper dale and on old industrial land at Teesmouth. The orchid colonies around the river estuary are of national importance with many thousands of blooms of mainly Common Spotted Orchid, Northern Marsh Orchid and numerous hybrids. Back to the map
GIANT HOGWEED Heracleum mantegazzianum 
This exotic species, introduced into Britain from the Caucasus many years ago, and is now well established along the lower river especially between Middleton-One-Row and Preston. Most botanists regard the Giant Hogweed as an undesirable alien, but reaching a height in excess of 3m it is still a very impressive plant. But beware, Giant Hogweed can cause severe skin rashes. Back to the map
JUNIPER Juniperus communis 
This is another example of Upper Teesdale's special flora. The still extensive stands of Juniper in the upper dale are of conservation importance and have been growing here since the end of the last Ice Age. Although a number of varieties of Junipers have been cultivated this species is rarely found in gardens making the wild populations all the more valuable. Back to the map
HISTORIC PLACES
HARTLEPOOL  
Hartlepool has enjoyed mixed fortunes over the years. In 1900 Sir William Gray's shipyard was building more ships than any other yard in Britain for which they received the Blue Riband for maximum output. This prosperity did not last however, and the last shipyard closed in 1962. Today Hartlepool is undergoing massive re-development including a marina, housing and leisure schemes. Within the development an Historic Quay has been established which takes the visitor back in time to an 18th century seaport. Within the area you can see HMS Trincomalee, one of the oldest surviving warships afloat. Back to the map
BILLINGHAM 
Billingham was a village until recent times. During the 1920's ICI was born. Some of the early plants extracted and used natural salts, minerals and anhydrite from the surrounding area. These together with water and coal helped to synthesise the numerous products ICI produced. ICI covered nearly 1214 hectares north and south of the Tees. Back to the map 
 
MIDDLESBROUGH 
From a hamlet of 25 people in 1800 Middlesbrough grew rapidly due to an increasing trade in coal and the development of a thriving iron and steel industry. Today it is the largest town in Teesside with a population in excess of 140,00. Back to the map
THE TRANSPORTER BRIDGE 
The most famous bridge over the Tees is the Transporter Bridge. A bridge was needed to transport men and vehicles across the river but which would still let tall masted ships pass underneath. This led to the hanging cradle design supported by giant towers which we see today. This is the only working bridge of its kind in the world. Back to the map
NEWPORT BRIDGE 
The foundation stone for this bridge was not laid until 1932 with the opening being performed by the then Duke and Duchess of York, later to be King George VI and The Queen Mother. It is a vertical lift bridge, 18m high, with a span of 81m. It weighs 5,400 tonnes and cost £430,000. Due to increased maintenance costs the bridge was lifted for the last time on 18th November 1990. It is still open to traffic but can not now be raised. Back to the map
TEES BARRAGE 
The Tees Barrage at Stockton-on-Tees is 70m wide with 4 fishbelly steel gates which hold back the water, however these can be released in times of flood. It has created an 18km stretch of clean, non-tidal water upstream. A white water canoe slalom course of international standard has also been created. It is hoped that this, together with the new riverside housing and business developments will bring back some of the past prosperity of Stockton-On-Tees. Back to the map
YARM 
In the early 12th century Yarm began to establish itself as a trading centre of some significance and it was justly called the principal port of the River Tees. The railways became very important to Yarm in the 19th century and a viaduct over the river was built. The work was carried out by the Leeds and Northern Railway Company in 1849. It is made of over seven and a half million red bricks with 43 arches and cost over £40,000. It is still in use today. Back to the map
DARLINGTON 
The town of Darlington did not really start to expand until the 18th century when the coal trade increased in importance and was helped by inventions such as Kay's Flying Shuttle, developed in Darlington in 1733 for a flourishing textile industry. The big boost however came in the early 19th century when George and Robert Stephenson built locomotion Number 1. This steam engine pulled the worlds first passenger train between Stockton and Darlington in 1825. Back to the map
BARNARD CASTLE 
The first castle here was built by Guy de Balliol in the 12th century. The site was chosen since it occupies a good defensive and strategic position on the north bank of the Tees. Guy's nephew, Bernard built an improved stone version of the castle during the latter part of the 12th century when it became known as Bernard's Castle and later Barnard Castle. It was once the largest castle in Northern England. Back to the map
THE WHIN SILL AND HIGH FORCE 
The Whin Sill is a type of igneous rock which was formed as the result of hot, molten material being forced between surrounding strata some 300 million years ago. The River Tees crosses the Whin Sill at several points, the most well known being High Force waterfall. Here the harder rock of the Sill forms a cliff over which the river pours to form the most powerful waterfall in Britain. Back to the map
COW GREEN RESEVOIR AND DAM 
Cow Green Reservoir was built to supply water to the growing industries on Teesside, construction work started in 1967 and the reservoir now stretches for 3km and covers an area of 125 hectares. The dam is 550m long, took three years to build and holds back 40,000 million litres of water. in 1984 a drought caused the water level to fall so low that a Bronze Age farmstead was uncovered and studied before it was once again lost underwater. Back to the map


what to do and to see take the tour ecostructure wildflower ark learning workshops back to the home page