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. Nice! Good to see the wildlife surviving, and a part of the UK I don’t know. I wondered if you might be interested in some walks in Brittany? e.g. a Circular walk around Le Quillio?

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. I would love to follow you on your walks Jo! Thanks for all the love on my blog! HUGS!

  4. 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!

  5. 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?

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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. 🙂

  8. 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!) 🙂

  9. 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 😀

  10. The peep holes for seal watching seem both innovative and funny! While spying on the seals, though, do you feel a little bit like Jimmy Stewart in “Rear Window”? ;D

    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.

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