The River Tees rises on the eastern slopes of the North Pennines and flows east for 85 miles to finally reach the North Sea near Middlesbrough. The Canal & River Trust are responsible for the 22 miles from Worsall, (the highest tidal point in the river until the barrage was built) through Yarm and up to and including the iconic Tees Barrage in Stockton-On-Tees.
The River Tees was formed over 18,000 years ago during the Ice Age and has always been at the heart of Teesside. Since medieval times it’s brought trade and prosperity, firstly to Yarm and later with the Industrial Revolution to Stockton then Middlesbrough.
In the upper reaches the river is calm and rural. But since the building of the impressive feat of engineering that is the Tees Barrage in 1995, this previously tidal river has been converted into adrenaline junkie’s playground. The waters above the barrage are now permanently held at the level of an average high tide so you can do all kinds of watersports – canoeing, jet skiing, dragon boat racing and even a 1km rowing course.
Grab your wet suit because as part of the huge redevelopment of the area, the Trust-owned White Water Course underwent a £4.6m refurbishment. Now managed by Tees Active Ltd through Stockton Council, you can enjoy world-class artificial white water rapids, Olympic-standard canoe slalom and power boat trips. It was one of London 2012’s slalom training grounds!
If something more leisurely takes your fancy, you can step aboard one of the local boat trips. Or take a stroll over the footbridge across the impressive Tees Barrage itself. The barrage’s huge 50-tonne gates control the flow of water in the river. You can see the lock that allows boats to pass the barrage, and enjoy panoramic views from the footbridge. You then have the option to join the Teesdale Way, a walking and cycling route from the North Sea shore to the Cumbrian Pennines.