Jo’s Monday walk : Greatham Creek

The spy holes in the hide

The spy holes in the hide, Greatham Creek

First, a word of explanation.  For quite some time I’ve been including walks in my posts, and most of you seem to enjoy taking a stroll with me.  It occurred to me the other day (when I was out walking, of course) that I could make this a regular feature, and invite people to join in and share, if they want to.  Lots of you will have favourite walks, and I would love to hear about them.

So, let’s start with Greatham Creek.  Now, unless you’re a local, I know you will be reading this as Great Ham, but the pronunciation is, in fact, Gree Tham.  Funny old language, isn’t it?  Not long since, I took you on a wander through the snowdrops in Greatham Village.  That could well be the start point for this walk, but I am choosing to do it differently today.

Instead, we're starting at the bird hide on the Seal Sands road

Instead, we’re starting at the bird hide on the Seal Sands road

See the peep holes? Now what are they looking at?

See the peep holes? Now, what are they looking at?

This fellow, and his friends

This fellow, and his friends

You did notice that I called it Seal Sands road, didn’t you?  The area is highly industrialised, with smoke belching from chimneys on the skyline, but for a number of years this has been home to a colony of seals.  So much so that, passing by on the bus to Middlesbrough with my nose stuck in a book, I sometimes even forget to notice them.  Not today, though.

Clear and bright with just a little nip to the air, it was perfect for socialising with seals.

Now a seal might like a little privacy, and rightly so

Now a seal might like a little privacy, and rightly so

So there are opportunities to hide yourself

So there are opportunities to ‘hide’ yourself

And still get a decent view of the seals (and the industry!)

While still getting a decent view of the seals (and the industry)

There is a car park on the Seal Sands road (the A189), right by the hide.  When you’ve had enough of playing hide and seek, cross over the creek on the road bridge and follow the public footpath off to your left.  Work is currently in progress to extend the footpath on the other side of the bridge, which will lead to another hide.

Crossing the creek

Crossing the creek

Which spreads out, inland

Which spreads out, inland

And the seals carry on doing what seals do

Passing the seals, who carry on doing what seals do
As does the industry!

As does the industry!

The creek is tidal, so the water level is variable.  The number of seals basking on the sands varies too.  To be truthful, it isn’t always the weather for basking.  When the skies are leaden the whole area is very depressing.

But whenever they can, they're there

But nobody seems to have told the seals!

The patterns carved by the creek vary too

The patterns carved by the creek vary, too

Unravelling like knitting yarn

Winding off like unravelling yarn

The footpath winds around the creek

The footpath follows the creek, with occasional steps up and down

Then it veers off to the right, heading towards Greatham Village.  The fields were still a little flooded in places, after the heavy rain, but passable, with care.  I didn’t have proper walking shoes on and opted to turn back.

There is a way around, honest!

There is a way around, honestly!

The walk continues, passing the derelict Cerebos site and over the railway tracks into Greatham. The “Hope and Anchor” on the High Street is an old favourite of mine, if you need a food or drink stop.  Or you can simply retrace your steps at any point.  I was only out walking for about an hour, having come with the sole purpose of seeing the seals.

So, that’s my walk for today.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Now I’m rather hoping that I might tempt a few of you into sharing walks with me?  You can include as much or as little detail as you like.  A full walk would be great but if you want to show me just a photo or two from a walk you know, I’d be happy with that too.  My walks will mostly be in the north east of England, because that’s home, but now and then I might just stray.

If you decide to participate, please leave a link to your walk in the comments box below.  Let’s see how far we can get, shall we?  I’m really looking forward to it.


    1. Hi Elaine! Nice to meet you 🙂 I wondered if you were local but saw from your Facebook page that you’re ‘just up the road’. I’m not a walk leader as such, but I do go out with a group of walkers most Mondays. Sometimes my Monday walk ideas come from those expeditions, sometimes they’re just places I’ve been with my husband. The group is mostly retired people like myself. I expect you might be able to find a group local to you? Many thanks for your comment.

  1. I am one of the lucky kids whose family had a boathouse on the creek. At 80years old my memories go back to when in my opinion the creek was at its best, with more people than seals,yet I very much enjoyed the photos.

      1. Hello joe its me again Bill Blackwell ,since the breaches in the creek bank ,inland from the bridge North side ,it is no longer possible to reach the areas where you have shown the mud patterns near the old cerebos tip.The public footpath from marsh house farm has been destroyed making it impossible to visit what is a very interesting area. Considering what flooding the marsh would cost initially it should be easy to install footbridges to access all of area.

      2. They have been doing some work along the Tees Rd to put in some more bird hides, I think, Bill, but I haven’t walked this way for a while. I’ll have to go and check 🙂 Hope you’re well?

    1. Christmas morning ,all the best JO, just had a nostalgic half hour thinking about the creek as it was. You would I’m sure have enjoyed having a cup o tea In one of the cabins listening to the old men talking about the creek at its best in their younger days as I did 70 and more years ago.

  2. I was one of those that was pronouncing “ham” so thank you for the pronunciation tutorial :D. What a glorious walk, Jo. I could stare at those patterns for hours.

    1. It’s that same industrial area that you like, with the Transporter Bridge in the distance, Paula 🙂
      Are you more like yourself today? Hope the flu doesn’t spoil your weekend.

    1. It can be pretty miserable on a cold grey day, Dale. I wouldn’t really fancy being one of those seals. If you want to link up any of your walks at any stage, I’ll tweet or FB it 🙂 Cheers!

  3. I might be late joining in, but I know I will have a wonderfully relaxing virtual walk waiting for me here Jo. This one, and especially the seals, didn’t disappoint 🙂

    1. If you’re out walking that dog, Suze, and decide to put pen to paper I’d be happy to have you link on here. 🙂 But your posts are usually more exotic now. Thanks for the kind words. You off travelling with work soon? Or does the Mister prefer you to stay home? 🙂

      1. Oh Jo, the Mister’s off on his own for the next work trip 😦 I have a little jaunt to Florence planned for next month. We may take doggie to Rye Harbour on Friday for a walk so you never know – there are seals there sometimes. I have a couple of local walk posts from way back: A Walk in Battle Great Wood and Seven Sisters Country Park if you’re interested in linking?

  4. Lovely day for a walk, and those seals are fantastic! I must get out and about and do some walks through the Cotswolds this spring, so many great routes to discover around here too.

    1. I bet you’ll have some great ones, Lucy. If you want to put a link in to mine at any time I’d be delighted. I will tweet/FB the linking posts. I usually do with yours anyway but I don’t always see them.
      Morocco looked great. I’ll check a bit later if you have a post up yet 🙂

  5. Hi Jo, enjoying catching up on your lovely walking series now. Having grown up in the Midwestern United States, the playful seals are what would have most captured my attention. 🙂 What a novelty!

    1. Hi Tricia! Nice to catch up- I’ll come over to yours a bit later. We do very much take them for granted and although the skies were bright that day it can be a severely depressing place to be in winter. 🙂

  6. I can see you have got a fetish for holes … now!!! Love the top image. Amazing how many seals there is … they have found a peace heaven. The industrial part I could live without .. stunning images again and again.

    1. Definitely like holes, Vivi. 🙂 They could have cared less who watched them, and ‘king’ seal was a proper show off but I wasn’t quick enough with the camera.

    1. That’s a fair question, Ken 🙂 In this instance the post definitely took longer. I don’t do anything with my photos other than slap a border round them but it does take time to pull it all together. (and the thinking- that takes hours!) 🙂

  7. I’m not as exciting as you, Jo – I just go on the same walk every day to take the dogs to the creek for a swim. But I do spot some interesting things on the way and should take more photos so I can share them here 😀

    1. They made me smile, too, AG, until Jude pointed out that they’re probably for children. Why didn’t I think of that? My distance eyesight isn’t great, so the seals were relatively private from my snooping 🙂 Must remember binoculars next time.

  8. Wonderful walk, loved it and I was fascinated to see the seals and learn about this. Walking is the best exercise there is I think…and dancing too 😉

    1. Not quite at pole dancing standards, Ad 🙂 I might need to reblog or adapt some of my older ones as time goes by, but I hate being cooped up and there are quite a lot of options.

    1. Brilliant, Amy! I would like that so much. I haven’t made any rules and you can join in whenever it suits, Monday to Sunday. All I’m going to do is put up a new walk each Monday. 🙂

  9. The patterns carved by the creek look like someone (or maybe the seals?) are trying to send a message. I enjoy these walks. Maybe if it ever stops snowing I’ll join in. 🙂
    Thanks for the jaunt, Jo. 😉

    1. ‘King’ seal didn’t need anybody to send his messages, Gem. He was full of himself! I think he believes he’s a local celeb (well, why not? We had a monkey for a mayor!) 🙂
      Snowy footprints, Gem- easy to follow! Until they become slush! It must be Spring over there soon, musn’t it? 😦

  10. I’m constantly astonished at how much nature you have in the north-east and the delightful walks you take us on. I’d have passed this whole section from Saltburn-by-the-Sea to Whitley Bay as being too industrialised, but you have shown me an entirely different aspect.

    Some of my local walks:

    I’ll try and get out for some new ones soon 🙂

    1. Bless you, Jude! Not only are you a genius but you’re a very kind soul too. I have to do some online shopping for a new hoover for Dad then I’ll come back and settle in for a good read. 🙂

  11. Nice sitting back with tea & jammy dodger and taking this walk along with you Jo …
    Ah those lovely basking seals they DO know how to make the most of the conditions don’t they? Seems like you had a fair walk along before the flooding made conditions in the fields too squelchy to carry on !
    I really like your idea … so I’ll ramble out and post it next Monday if that’s ok 🙂

    1. So funny, Poppy! I just had coffee and a dark chocolate KitKat while I read Nomad’s linking post (which I can recommend) 🙂
      Thank you so much! That would be wonderful. I’m getting excited just thinking about it! If you can’t manage a Monday you can link any old day. I’m trying to avoid rules and being stuffy 🙂

  12. I always enjoy following your walks and think sharing them is a great idea! Unfortunately I’ll be out of town for work this week without time for a proper walk but if you bring up the subject another week I’ll be ready. 🙂

    1. That’s brilliant, Lisa. It will be a weekly feature so whenever you have time, I’d love it. You don’t have to post on a Monday and I’m trying to not make too many ‘rules’. Just a bit of fun and a walk. Thanks! 🙂

  13. Love this walk, Jo, plus your idea of doing a Monday walk. Is it okay if we do the walk sometime during the week, not Monday, because Monday is my day to apply for jobs? 😦 I love the patterns in the creek (reminds me of Suncheon Bay in South Korea) and the funny peepholes and the boardwalks through grasslands. Don’t much care for the industry though. It’s really too bad when industry has to ruin a landscape! Glad to see you’re out and about. I’m going out for a walk in the snow in a minute; maybe I’ll come up with some pictures so I can take your walk challenge. 🙂

    1. Yes, of course, Cathy! I kept it a bit vague because I didn’t really want to set down rules and make it a challenge, so any time is fine. Or you could just do it and link to next week’s. Whatever suits 🙂 Some people are really hot on scheduling posts but once I’ve written one and I’m happy with it, I can’t wait to ‘get it out there’.

    1. Never, Jodi? Not that these are great shots by any means, because when I zoom my shots are a bit blurry (and the critturs wouldn’t keep still! The big fella kept waving his flipper at me. Shy? I don’t think so! More of a show off) Happy to oblige. 🙂
      You must have a wander you’d like to share, when you have some time free? I’ll be running this every week.

      1. I will definitely try to do a walk along with you for next Monday 😀 And yup, I’ve never seen a seal before. Neither at home, nor abroad. (Secret: I’ve never been to a zoo either) LOL!

    1. I have to admit I thought they must be for extremely short people, Sue. I had to kneel down to take the shot 🙂 I think maybe they’re the photographic equivalent of poetic license?
      Many thanks for your link. I love that you’ve shared 🙂

      1. Perhaps there is a hidden video camera seeing how many folks will actually get down to have a look.
        You are most welcome for the link. One of the many examples of how going for a walk can present so many unexpected extras. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Scott 🙂 I read somewhere that you should lead with a photo that ties everything together or summarises the post and I think it’s good advice, if you can do it.

  14. Hi Giovanna! una lunga piacevole passeggiata con te in questa atmosfera rarefatta dove giocano le foche ed il mondo industriale, sia pure così vicino, sembra lontano millenni….lo hai reso così bene con le tue foto!
    confrontalo, se vuoi con i colori luminosi della mia passeggiata ( solo non di ieri, ma di alcuni anni fa.,..quella di ieri non mi sono ancora organizzata per trasformarla in articolo)
    sempre lieta di stare in tua compagnia, ora devo salutarti , il lavoro mi attende, ripasso più tar
    un grande abbraccio affettuoso

    1. sorry…la traduzione, ha ha

      a long leisurely walk with you in this rarefied atmosphere where they play the seals and the industrial world, albeit so close, it seems distant millennia …. you’ve made so well with your photos!
      If you want to compare with the bright colors of my walk (not only yesterday, but a few years ago, …that yesterday I have not yet organized to transform it into article)
      always glad to be in your company, now I have to say good-bye, I wait, more tar review
      a big affectionate hug

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