Our adrenaline-charged bungee jump with UK Bungee wasn’t in a pristine natural gorge, but off the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge, a ferry bridge originally built so workers living in Middlesbrough could cross the river to get to
the steel plants at Teeside.
And our hot lap in a sports car at South Tees Motorsport Park was on land too contaminated for housing because it used to be home to a steelworks.
It all sounds bloody terrible, but while Londoners might like to knock the north-east, tourism is on the up and there is a lot to lure travellers to the region. For a start, it’s damn cheap. In the Tees Valley, encompassing the boroughs of Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton on Tees and Redcar and Cleveland, you can hunt down a nice B&B from £20 a night, and a Magners at a fancy restaurant will only set you back £2.50 – you can barely buy them in
an offie in London for that price.
Don’t worry about all that industry either. Once you’re out of Middlesbrough, there’s pristine green countryside and more than a few charming villages to wander through. Don’t miss a stroll along the high street in Yarm or a chat with the locals as you watch the river rush by at Hurworth-on-Tees.
If vigorous activity is more your cup of tea, the Tees Valley is right on the doorstep of North York Moors National Park, popular with hikers and mountain bikers.
It ain’t the warmest part of the country, but strangely enough the Tees Valley is also known for its watersports. Hit the rapids for some white-water rafting or kayaking on the man-made course at the Teeside White Water Centre – an official training facility for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
There’s also the chance to take to the waves in the gorgeous seaside town of Saltburn or take a lesson at the Saltburn Surf School. In winter, it’s not uncommon for surfers to brave snow, so make sure you opt for a warm wetsuit.
All that activity is thirsty work and the Tees Valley has plenty of nightlife options for you to kick on after a day of action or sightseeing, with the vibrant centres of Whitby, York, Durham and Newcastle only a stone’s throw away if you have a hire car at your disposal.
Overall, the Tees Valley is well worth a weekend break, and it’s even better if you can tack an extra few days onto your stay – just save yourself the surprised stares and don’t tell anyone where you’ve been when you arrive back in London.
» Trevor Paddenburg travelled to the Tees Valley courtesy of Visit Tees Valley (01642-264 957;
Down under up north
You won’t find Vegemite or kangaroos, but the Tees Valley has a couple of significant links for Australians.
» Grit and steel
Middlesbrough was famous for iron production in the 19th century and steel from the city was shipped to Australia for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. ‘Made in Middlesbrough’ is stamped in the steel on the side of the bridge.
» Land ahoy
The Tees Valley is in fact nicknamed Captain Cook Country. The seafarer who discovered Australia and claimed it in
the name of Britain was born in Middlesbrough.