Teesmouth National Nature Reserve

Location Details


north east of Middlesbrough

The reserve has two main parts: North Gare and Seal Sands. North Gare is an area of dunes and marsh on the north bank of the Seaton-on-Tees Channel, while Seal Sands is area of mudflats and sands on the south bank of the Channel.

Teesmouth has a large and varied bird population and Seal Sands supports the only regular breeding colony of common seals on the north east coast of England. The reserve can be enjoyed at any time of year. Winter visitors can see over-wintering birds, summer is best for dune flowers, and terns can be seen in the autumn. Seals are seen throughout the year.

Natural England has also published 'Healthier Outlooks' , a leaflet describing walks on four NNRs in the North East area, including Teesmouth.

How to get there

Teesmouth NNR is mid-way between Hartlepool and Redcar, approximately fivekm to the north east of Middlesbrough.

Road access is via the A178. There are car parks at North Gare (accessed via a minor road from the A178) and at Cowpen Marsh (on the A178) 0.5 km from Seal Sands.

The nearest train station is at Seaton Carew served by Northern Rail. Local bus services to Seaton Carew are provided by Stagecoach-Hartlepool and Arriva. The reserve is linked to Route 14 of the National Cycle Network and there are cycle racks at the North Gare car park.


The nearest accommodation is in Seaton Carew and Hartlepool. For more information click here, or telephone Hartlepool Tourist Information on 01429 869706.

What to see

Teesmouth NNR protects the core feeding and roosting sites for large populations of wader and wildfowl. Knot, redshank, Sandwich tern, cormorant, shelduck and ringed plover are all present in significant numbers at various times of the year.

Apart from typical sand dune and saltmarsh plant communities, the NNR is home to four species of marsh orchid, adder's-tongue fern and three rare plant species: rush-leaved fescue, stiff-leaved saltmarsh grass and brackish water crow-foot.

Invertebrates found at the site include the common blue butterfly, the burnet moth and the rare lyme grass moth.

The reserve is notable for its breeding colony of common seals and grey seals are also frequent visitors to the area.


An easy-access footpath connects the Cowpen Marsh car park with two wheelchair accessible observation hides. The hides overlook Seal Sands and a nearby waterway and have interpretation panels and leaflet dispensers. There is also an orientation panel at the North Gare car park.

The Teesmouth Field Centre, adjacent to North Gare, offers a range of activities for school and student groups. These activities are free but must be booked in advance. The nearest toilet and refreshment facilities are in Seaton Carew.


In medieval times the area was important for its salt industry, salt being extracted from sea water by evaporation. The ash from fuel used in this process was dumped on North Gare and now forms a series of grass-covered mounds. The area continues to be a highly industrial and there are oil and chemical processing facilities in the area together with a large power plant.

Natural England manages the area to minimize pollution threats, maintain the quality of the site's habitats and reduce disturbance to wildlife.

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