A NEW coastal footpath has officially been opened running along the Tees estuary.

Natural England launched the latest stretch of the England Coast Path, increasing access to the Tees Valley coastline with a new ten-mile route from Newport Bridge, Middlesbrough along the River Tees to North Gare.

The route will pass key tourist attractions such as the Transporter Bridge, the RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve and the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve, helping people to explore the natural and diverse wildlife which have made the area their home.

Natural England’s Chair Tony Juniper said: "This stretch will give walkers access to 10 miles of beautiful coastline, enabling people to visit some wonderful nature conservation sites along the estuary. We know that being outside in the natural world is really good for people’s health and wellbeing and I hope the path will bring benefits for generations to come.”

The route will incorporate parts of the estuary that were previously inaccessible to the public or very difficult to reach.Well over half of the stretch is brand new access, with the trail involving new construction of causeway, boardwalks and footbridges.

Councillor Shane Moore, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “This marvellous new route will enable walkers to explore this fascinating area of coastline, which is rich in wildlife, including a host of different bird species and the seals of Greatham Creek."

Councillor Mike Smith, Stockton Borough Council’s cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “I’m delighted to see this stretch of the England Coast Path officially opened to the public and I’m sure our residents will take great pleasure from walking and visiting the new route, as will those who visit the area from further afield."

And Tompion Platt, Ramblers’ director of advocacy and engagement, said: “It’s really exciting to be opening another stretch of the England Coast Path, joining up with coastal paths in Yorkshire and Northumberland and bringing us one step closer to being able to walk the entire way around the English coastline."

There is now a 156-mile continuous portion of the England Coast Path in place, running from Filey in North Yorkshire to Amble in Northumberland.