Launched from the Bowesfield Estate today, as I returned to my car to put my new trolley safely away (work in progress rapidly constructed this morning) I found a topless, tattooed muscle man paying a bit too much attention to my beloved Honda Jazz. I decided chatting with him the best tactic and he said my car would not be there when I returned. I moved it alongside the Compass Royston coach depot as there where people in their yard and there where CCTV signs on the fence.
Feeling a bit foolhardy I decided to go for it. So on a bright Sunday morning I headed south down the very meandering Tees. On the starboard back fancy modern apartments took in wondrous views of the river, around the bend on to port long gardens lead down to the river, mainly looking a little sad and requiring more care than the owners head time for. Carrying on south and under the new bridge to Ingleby and the pipe bridge with red flags of the golf course fluttering on the port bank. The other bank was starting to become more interesting with majestic trees lining the bank. Not only was it a visual treat but all senses where caterer for, sunshine warming the face, tuneful birdsong and the aroma of wild garlic.
On this bank, in clearings, people appeared, I had reached today’s target of Preston Park. Pushing on there was a rowing boat and I remembered that you could now hire boats from the park. I still felt fresh so carried on, rolling farm land to port and a riverbank aboretum to starboard. Surprisingly there was a well maintained ex fishing boat at the bottom of a well manicured garden followed by more dream homes. Teesside High School was next and I was getting peckish but pushed on. More farmland to the left and another golf course on the right, no point of landing there. At the Southern end both banks became farmland but with a clear path down to the river on the starboard bank. The path followed the river with little fishing platforms every few hundred feet. After a while there was a relatively low one and I stepped ashore for a well deserved lunch.
After lunch I retraced my earlier course, this was not in the least repetitif as it simply looked different and still a feast for the eyes. I have often thought that it is not the water that makes boating interesting but the junction of water and land. This river is very rich in this boundary and I stuck to the bank, frequently ducking overhanging branches.
Muscles now aching and with a freshening breeze which deamed to be always on the nose, I eventually found my launch spot. The anxiety returned and it was not without some trepidation I rushed to the car. Windows intact, roof rack still in place, and four wheels. As I packed the car the watchman from the coach company came over for a chat. He told of the constant battle fuel thieves and the boys he was yet to catch that regularly shot birds, my fears where perhaps justified.
I won’t launch from the Bowesfield Badlands again….. The Tees is certainly a river on contrasts.