Greatham Creek Local Nature Reserve

Here you can see seals from the A178, the main road from Stockton to Hartlepool, instead of having to take a boat to a remote island or inaccessible beach. When the tide is out, the creek is little more than a stream. There are no seals at this point, they are more likely to be seen on the broader mudflats of Seal Sands, half a mile away, although they are much more distant from land. But when the tide turns and the sea rushes up the creek you can see them swimming along, then hauling out onto the mud.

Please do not approach the seals at their haul out area, the land is private and is a legally protected nature reserve. On a good day you can see over 40. At high tide, the water will cover the mudflats and some of the surrounding salt marsh, and only a few seals are likely to remain.

During World War Two Greatham Creek was an important defence area, many of the wartime constructions have now been taken over by the wildlife. The creek is part of a larger area much of which now belongs to the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve.

During the summer, Avocets breed on the ponds at Greenabella Marsh, on the south of the creek. These black and white birds are easy to see from the bus-stop hide just off the A178. They feed by skimming the water-surface with their up-turned bills and they are fussy about where they breed, depending almost entirely on saline lagoons, such as these ones at Greenabella Marsh.

Waders frequent much of the area from the seals mudflats, downstream along the creek, past the A178 and out to the Tees Estuary at Seal Sands. Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatchers are regulars for most of the year, increasing in numbers in autumn and winter, when they may be joined by the occasional red-breasted Mergansers, colourful fish-hunting ducks.

Peregrines regularly frequent the area, using the nuclear reactor on the north side of Seal Sands as their observation post, and Short-eared Owls are often seen hunting during the day-time.


Access to Greatham Creek is from the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve car park off the A178 on the south side of the road bridge. Walk up to the bridge to view both sides of the Creek.

Local Map