A figure of eight following the loop of the Tees near Yarm and exploring the beautiful villages and countryside north of the river.
Distance – miles (km): 5.5 miles (8.8km) Or complete as two separate circuits: Egglescliffe loop: 3.1 miles (5.0km) Aislaby loop: 2.4 miles (3.8km)
Recommended start / finish point(s): Yarm Bridge
Car parking / public transport: Car parking on Yarm High Street, Buses to Yarm High Street
Access / path surfaces: Mainly grass / field-edge footpaths
Refreshments: Pubs and cafes in Yarm. Pub in Egglescliffe village.
Main features of interest (locations shown on map):
Originally built on the orders of Bishop Skirlaw of Durham around 1400, the bridge has been altered many times over the centuries. It started life as a narrow pack horse bridge with tolls to be paid when crossing.
During the English Civil War Egglescliffe was heavily involved in guarding the bridge on behalf of the Royalists, while Parliamentarian forces occupied Yarm. This led to a small battle on 1st February 1643.
The Royalists actually removed the northern arch of the bridge and replaced it with a drawbridge to provide added protection from the parliamentarians and for a while the Rector at Egglescliffe, Rev Basire, was charged with controlling that bridge.
Yarm was the first port to develop on the River Tees. Wharves once occupied the opposite riverbank, and going back as far as the 12th and 13th centuries farmers in the surrounding area brought their wool to Yarm where it was loaded on ships and sent to Scotland, France and Flanders. Incoming cargoes included wine from Gascony, Flemish cloth, and other luxury goods. Corn, bacon, butter, cheese, paper, leather and coal were also transported from Yarm port, and granaries, warehouses, a tannery and a vinegar brewery were all built close to the river.
River Leven and Round Hill The River Leven joins the Tees at this point. Its source lies some 11 miles to east in the North York Moors near Kildale.
The high land at the confluence of the Tees and Leven is Round Hill. This is the site of a former motte and bailey castle. Generally thought to of Norman origin, the site could actually date back Neolithic or Bronze Age times.
You might notice a plant called giant hogweed covering much of the land at Round Hill. Growing to over 2 metres in height it looks like a very large cow parsley plant, but it is highly invasive and the sap can be very harmful to people and animals. Giant hogweed was introduced to Britain in the 19th century as an ornamental plant. It has since spread and become a major problem alongside rivers such as the Tees and Leven. Work is on-going at Round Hill and other places to remove giant hogweed and control its spread.
The village we see today mainly dates from medieval times, although Egglescliffe was mentioned in the 11th century Doomsday Book and dates back even longer than that. The medieval cross on the village green probably marks the boundary between two historic landholdings: one based on the church, the other on the Old Hall to the east.
The walk takes you past the beautiful Church of St John the Baptist, and from outside the church there are expensive views over Yarm. From here a footpath known as Stoney Bank leads downhill towards Yarm Bridge. Old photos show how much the scene has changed over time (see photos).
Half a mile long and standing some 22m above the river, the viaduct dominates the town. It was built by the Leeds Northern Railway between 1849 and 1851 at a cost of £44,500. The viaduct has 43 arches and, to save you counting, it’s constructed with around seven million bricks.
In 1895 the River Tees at Yarm became so frozen that boats were trapped within the ice, and it was possible, although dangerous, to walk across from one side of the river to the other, and the river became a skating rink for young and old (photo attached).
Aislaby It is thought that Aislaby is a Viking place name meaning Aislac’s village.
In the 1700s a small quay was constructed at Low Worsall, a further mile upstream of Aislaby. Here lead quarried up in Swaledale and other goods from North Yorkshire were loaded onto small boats to be transported down the river. Long before the age of steam, sailing on this narrow section of the Tees required the tides and wind to be just right. To overcome this problem boats were often hauled by horses walking along the riverbank, causing disputes between the local farmers and boat owners.
Yarm TS15 9QG