Although not very well-known outside of the North East, Hartlepool is becoming increasingly popular with tourists due to its maritime history and coastal location. Despite being an urban area, Hartlepool is not far from the countryside, so offers the best of both worlds, with nature reserves and woodland walks nearby for those who like to get out and about. If you’re looking for somewhere to explore other than the region’s popular cities of Newcastle and Durham, here is my ultimate Hartlepool bucket list that anyone in the area needs to experience:
The National Museum Of The Royal Navy
This museum is made up of the Hartlepool Maritime Experience, historic quayside and the unmissable HMS Trincomalee. With a 19th century style seaport featuring authentically created shops and businesses of the era and access to the oldest floating British warship, the NMRN is an attraction which will take you on a journey back in time! You can gain an insight into the tough lives of sailors from around the time of the Battle of Trafalgar, venture onto the decks of the majestic HMS Trincomalee and experience the newly transformed museum with historical artefacts and exhibitions. Visitors can also enjoy a live display of firearms and cannon firing at this popular tourist attraction, so it should be on every ultimate Hartlepool bucket list!
St Hilda’s Church
Located on the historic Hartlepool Headland, close to the Harbour entrance, St Hilda’ church is a beautiful 12th century church with splendid architecture. It is a Grade 1 listed building, built between 1190 and 1250, with the nave and the tower being the oldest parts. The Headland has a religious history stretching back to the earliest form of Christianity in Britain, with a monastery founded there in 640 AD. The nun St Hilda, whom the church is named after, is believed to have arrived on the Headland in 648 AD. While the monastery was destroyed by raiders in 800, this later Early English church has retained many of its Norman features. Visitors can now take tours of St Hilda’s church and learn about the history of the church and the Headland from modern displays and knowledgeable guides in the visitor centre.
Seaton Carew is a small seaside resort on the North Sea coast in Hartlepool. With fish and chips, broad sandy beaches, arcades, ice cream parlours, restaurants, hotels and a bowling alley, this resort is popular with both tourists and locals, particularly during the summer. There are also beach huts and a seafront playground new for 2018! Seaton Carew has a refurbished promenade for people to enjoy a stroll and views across to the Headland and down to Redcar. If you’re feeling fit, you can walk all the way along to the marina or to The Tees Estuary to the south. At low tide, you may even spot the Hartlepool Submerged Forest, which is a site of Special Scientific Interest and is thought to be around 7000 years old! Just be aware that dogs are banned on the main beaches from May to September to keep them clean. With something for everyone, Seaton Carew has got to be on everyone’s ultimate Hartlepool bucket list!
This brewery was founded in 1865 by John William Cameron and remains one of the largest breweries in the UK, with a brewing capacity of 1.5 million hectolitres. As one of the town’s oldest industrial concerns, Camerons Brewery has also historically been one of its largest employers. Established for over 150 years, the brewery is known for its Strongarm, which is a distinctive ruby red bitter launched in 1955. After being bought by Castle Eden Brewery in 2002, 80% of the brewery’s business now comes from contract brewing for other companies like Heineken. Visitors to Camerons Brewery can now take tours from Monday- Saturday, to see how the beers are made, explore the heritage centre to learn the history of the brewery and take in the wonders of the 250 feet deep well and marble-lined brew hall. If you’re visiting Hartlepool, make sure you add this attraction to your bucket list and book in advance!
This award-winning, relaxing location in Hartlepool, is one of the most modern marinas in Europe, attracting hundreds of vessels at any time. Open 24/7, 365 days per year, Hartlepool Marina has 500 serviced berths and is ideally situated for quick access to the open sea or for cruising in the sheltered waters of the Tees Bay. On the water’s edge, there is a mix of bistros, bars, restaurants and entertainment facilities, and visitors can also take part in water sports in sections of the marina. Hartlepool Marina’s centre piece is the historic quay and Jackson’s dock which houses the HMS Trincomalee. At the other end of the marina, at the harbour entrance lock gates, there is also a Monkey statue commemorating the “monkey hanger” story/ nickname that Hartlepool is famous for. Here you can make a wish and give a donation to a local cause if you like. The best time to visit is at sunset in the warmer months, when the picture-perfect marina is at its most beautiful. This is one for every Hartlepool bucket list!
Heugh Battery Museum
Heugh Battery Museum located on Hartlepool’s Headland, is the UK’s only open air World War One museum. The gun battery was one of three erected in 1860 to protect the port of Hartlepool and it was later reworked in 1900. The battery saw action in the Bombardment of Hartlepool on 16th December 1914, when a German battle cruiser fired a shell which struck aground less than 100m from the battery, killing the first soldier in action on British soil during WWI. The museum which aims to educate its visitors about a real WWI battlefield, contains a reconstructed trench, large artillery pieces such as canons, guns and tanks, a rifle collection, military memorabilia and war artwork. Heugh Battery Museum is also home to the Poppy Café, which serves food and drinks and the attraction is dog friendly. Open weekends most of the year and all week during school holidays, this unique Hartlepool attraction is not to be missed!
Tweddle Childrens Animal Farm
Located on the outskirts of Hartlepool, on the edge of Blackhall Colliery, Tweddle Farm is a great attraction for all the family. The farm has an array of different animals, including giant rabbits, guinea pigs, pygmy goats, horses, sheep, pigs, birds and even llamas and alpacas. You can bottle-feed calves and lambs and handle some of the smaller animals in the petting centre. There is also indoor go karts, crazy golf, tractor rides and a soft play area, all of which are great for kids. Tweddle Farm has a tearoom, picnic area and gift shop, and hosts seasonal events, as well as birthday parties. If you like getting outdoors and up close and personal with animals, a ticket for a family of four costs under £25, so why not add this attraction to your Hartlepool bucket list?
Hartlepool Borough Hall
Hartlepool Borough Hall was built in 1865 and is located in the historic Headland area. The hall was once a police station, with cells and a magistrate’s court upstairs and has also been used as an open air market and even a roller skating rink in the 1930s. After an £800,000 refurbishment, Hartlepool Borough Hall is now home to a large hall and stage which accommodates events such as the annual Horticultural Show, Heritage Festival and Hartlepool Beer Festival. It also holds sporting events such as boxing and wrestling matches. The hall has rooms that can be hired out for meetings, functions and weddings, and there is also a relaxing garden area outside. The gardens have radius seating and are close to the town wall and beach, so they are a lovely setting to eat some Verrill’s fish and chips! This should definitely be on any ultimate Hartlepool bucket list!
Summerhill Country Park
Summerhill Country Park is a local nature reserve and outdoor activity centre, located just off Catcote Road in Hartlepool. The 100 acre site includes sculptures, play areas, eight large climbing boulders, a free to use BMX track, a cycle clinic, visitors centre and café. For those looking to escape the rat race at the end of the week, why not take a leisurely stroll through the park’s green spaces on the well-maintained footpaths? If you’re looking for more adventure, you can also take part in activity sessions such as archery, high ropes course, rock climbing, orienteering and team games, all of which you must book in advance. Summerhill Country Park also hosts events like cross-country championships, fun days, dog shows and even car boot sales, so this park is definitely one for your ultimate Hartlepool bucket list!
Hartlepool Art Gallery
Hartlepool Art Gallery opened in 1996 and is located within Christ Church in Church Square, only a minute’s walk from the train station. The Grade II listed church is a stunning, restored, Victorian Gothic building, built in 1854. It has two exhibition spaces, the Main Gallery and Apse Gallery, housing contemporary art, fine art, photography, crafts and works of national and regional importance. The gallery has a frequently-changing exhibition programme, with a mix of in-house curated exhibitions, open artist proposals and exhibitions developed in partnership. Visitors to the gallery can enjoy a tour of the gallery, a cream tea and a visit to the top of the 100ft clock tower for the best view of the town and coast, for just £8 each! There are also free school resources for visits, including curriculum-linked workshops for different key stages and children with SEN and the gallery shop sells books, art, gifts and jewellery. If art is your thing, this attraction has got to be on your ultimate Hartlepool bucket list!
Victoria Park, also known as the Super 6 Stadium for sponsorship reasons, is home to the National League football club Hartlepool United. The stadium opened in 1908 when the club was founded and can hold up to 7,856 fans. The four sides of Victoria Park are known as Town End Terrace, Neale Cooper Stand (following their former manager’s death this year), The Cyril Knowles Stand and The Rink End which houses away fans. Situated in the town centre close to local pubs and with a club shop in the car park, Hartlepool’s football ground continues to attract fans from the local area, despite relegation to the National League and narrowly avoiding liquidation. Fixtures take place between August and April and ticket prices are reasonably affordable, priced at £5 for under 16s, £10 for seniors, students, under 19s and the armed forces and £20 for adults. Season tickets are also available for loyal supporters!
Teesmouth National Nature Reserve
This nature reserve is located just outside of Hartlepool, south of Seaton Carew and is set against the backdrop of heavy industry. With a surprising array of wildlife, TNNR covers around 350 hectares and includes North Gare Beach to the north of the tidal inlet and Seal Sands to the south. It is a wetlands nature reserve on the Tees Estuary, with diverse habitats including marshland, mud flats and sand dunes. TNNR is a great place for bird watching, as curlew and lapwings flock here, as well as short-eared owls and there are fantastic displays of wild flowers in the spring/ summer.
The most appealing part of this nature reserve, is Seal Sands, where the colony of harbour seals haul out on the sand banks at low tide and birth their pups here every summer, making Seal Sands the only regular breeding ground of these animals on the North East coast. If you like wildlife, you are almost guaranteed to spot some seals on any visit here, so Teesmouth National Nature Reserve must be included in any ultimate Hartlepool bucket list!