Summer walk - The Infinity Bridge, Stockton-on-Tees
Wed Aug 10 00:00:00 BST 2011
- Start: The north end of the Infinity Bridge
- End: The north end of the Infinity Bridge
- Country: England
- County: Durham
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: The Thomas Sheraton
- Ordnance Survey: Landranger 93 (Middlesbrough)
- Difficulty: Easy
This month we're in Stockton-on-Tees, starting at the northern end of the Infinity Bridge - a mathematical concept made, literally, concrete Words and pictures by David Taylor
Its hard to get a grip on the concept of infinity. No matter how many analogies you devise to tackle the issue its ultimately an impossible task. Perhaps the neatest expression of the idea is ?, the mathematical symbol representing infinity. Its a looped figure, the shape of which - if you had plenty time of on your hands - you could follow around with your eyes for ever.
Of course were all busy people who have better things to do. Such as go on riverside walks in north east England. This month were in Stockton-on-Tees, standing at the northern end of the Infinity Bridge. The observant among you will notice that the shape of the bridge resembles the top half of the infinity symbol. If youre very lucky and the water is calm, the reflection of the bridge will complete the figure. A mathematical concept made, literally, concrete.
From the bridge walk east along the riverside path, following the route of the Teesdale Way. You will eventually reach the Tees Barrage. The barrage opened in 1995 and was built to prevent flooding and mitigate the effects of the tides. The construction required an act of Parliament and at the time was the biggest building project on mainland Britain.
Stay on the north side of the river and follow the path through the Tees Barrage White Water Course (there is currently work being done to the facility. If the path is closed find your way north around the top of the white water course and then back down the other side to the Tees).
The path now skirts the southern edge of the Portrack Marsh Wildlife Trust reserve. The reserve is a 50 acre site home to animals such as Water Vole and Heron and is the last area of wetland in urban Teesside.
Continue along the path, under the A19 road bridge until you reach steps up to the Newport Bridge. The Newport Bridge is a very heavy, industrial structure in comparison to the Infinity Bridge. Built in the 1930s, the bridge was designed so that the centre section could be raised vertically to allow ships to pass underneath. During the 1940s and 50s this was often twice a day.
Built by Dorman Long, the same company that worked on the Tyne and Sydney Harbour bridges, it is a masterpiece of industrial design. However, the last time that the central section was raised was in 1990, a testament to the changing role of this stretch of the Tees.
Climb up the steps, cross over the bridge and then go down the steps on the other side to reach a combined foot and cycle path. Follow the path westwards back towards Stockton. Pass under the A19 road bridge once again and then enter the Maze Park.
The park is a nature reserve owned by the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust. Built on the site of a former railway marshalling yard, the park is an excellent place to see a variety of wild flowers such as St. Johns Wort and Birds Foot Trefoil.
Leaving the park behind continue on to the Tees Barrage and follow the riverside path through the grounds of Durham University. At a sign for a pedestrian route to Stockton, climb up the steps and then onto the Infinity Bridge.
If the Newport Bridge could be seen as a symbol of the decline of industry in the area, the Infinity Bridge is a sign of progress into a different, more high-tech, future. Part of a massive programme of redevelopment, the bridge links the new Queens Campus of Durham University on the south side of the Tees with a 320 million North Shore Development on the north.
Cross over the bridge to your original starting point and then turn left to follow the path to Stockton. Pass in front of the Tees Watersports Centre and then through a short stretch of trees to reach the Princess of Wales road bridge. Go under the bridge and follow the curve of the river round to the Millennium Bridge. Take the steps up to the bridge and cross the Tees once more.
If you pause for moment and look to your right you will see the HMS Bark Endeavour moored on the quayside. This is a replica of the ship that (the then) Lieutenant James Cook used on his first voyage of discovery from 1768 to 1771.
The main purpose of the expedition was to sail to Tahiti and once there observe and record a rare transit of Venus across the face of the sun. From this data it was hoped that the distance from Venus to the Sun could be calculated - and by extension the size of the solar system. Unfortunately, because of crudity of the measuring instruments, this aspect of the trip was a disappointment.
However, on the way home as a sort of consolation prize, Cook found desirable beach-front property on the previously undiscovered continent of Australia. The place was Botany Bay, just a few miles south from where the Sydney Harbour Bridge would be built some 150 years later.
From the Millennium Bridge thread your way through the new estate of offices, crossing a road bridge over a spur from the Tees. Drop back down to the river level and follow the spur north to the Tees. Continue along the river back to the Infinity Bridge.
Cross over once more to complete the walk for this month. Unless of course you really do have plenty of time on your hands. In which case jump back to the beginning of this article and follow the walk around and around and around
Start Point: The north end of the Infinity Bridge
Grid Reference: NZ 454 191
Ordnance Survey Map: Landranger 93 (Middlesbrough)
Length: 5.15 miles (8.25 kilometres)
Time: 3 hours
Difficulty: Easy (flat paths - some steps up to bridges)
Nearest Pub: The Thomas Sheraton
Nearest town: Stockton
For more information about Stockton-on-Tees and the surrounding area visit http:// www.thisisstockton.co.uk