Natural England - Teesmouth NNR

Teesmouth NNR

March 2014: please note that owing to the failure of a sea wall during the December 2013 tidal surge, the licensed access path to Seal Sands was severed. Consequently, there is currently no access to Seal Sands.

The Environment Agency are repairing the breach and reinstating the access route, but these works are unlikely to be completed until the end of April 2014, at the earliest.

Teesmouth NNR © Don Stephenson

Teesmouth NNR is a nature reserve with a difference. Set against a backdrop of heavy industry, it shows how nature can adapt and thrive in the most unlikely situations.

Where: Cleveland

Main habitat: Sand dunes, grazing marsh, intertidal sand and mudflats

Why visit:
While power stations and other industrial sites may loom large on the horizon, the reserve is still home to an amazing array of flora and fauna.

Look out for harbour seals and grey seals basking beside the tidal channels, rare plants including four different species of marsh orchid, and thousands of migratory waterbirds swooping down to feed on the mudflats. 

The site contains two Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the whole reserve is part of the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Special Protection Area.

Star species: The reserve is split into two main sections.

North Gare is an area of dunes and grazing marsh. During winter this is the domain of lapwings and flocks of curlew, which stalk the pastures alongside the approach road, while short-eared owls hunt amongst the dune grasslands. Fantastic displays of wild flowers can be seen in the spring and summer. including six different species of orchid.

Seal Sands is one of the largest areas of intertidal mudflats on England's north-east coast. When the tide is out, hundreds of waders, including redshank and dunlin peck through the mud looking for invertebrates. The colony of harbour seals haul out on the sand banks at low tide; their pups are born here each summer, making Seal Sands the only regular breeding colony of these animals on England's north-east coast.


Please note that the following bye-laws are in force on the reserve:

  • No motorbikes or quad-bikes as they can damage plants and disturb birds
  • No fires as these can severely harm the invertebrate population
  • No bait gathering as this may disturb birds and seals
  • Please keep dogs under close control

From North Gare: a track leads from the car park to the breakwater. This route is fairly even, although rough in places. The track provides access to the beach via steps. There are also footpaths through the sand dunes and dune slacks.

To Seal Sands: no access is currently possible (January 2014) owing to Environment Agency repairs to the Greatham Creek sea wall, damaged in December 2013. Works are scheduled for completion in the spring. 

Further information

Teesmouth NNR Senior Reserve Manager: 07803 228394