|South Gare with some of the notable features marked|
South Gare [gare rhymes with bare, by the way] is a peninsula on the east side of the mouth of the River Tees - at this point the river is flowing pretty much south to north so even though it's on the south bank of a river which flows broadly west to east and IS called South Gare (and there is a North Gare on the other side), it should perhaps be called East Gare instead.
However, although you can now walk dry-shod around a large area of natural-looking grassland, sand dunes, reedbeds and ponds, with many 'rocky outcrops' and other interesting-looking 'geological features', closer examination of some of the 'rocks' will give a clue to the truth. Before 1859, South Gare did not exist and the mouth of the river would have been much wider, with mudflats and sand dunes on both sides - the whole peninsula is in fact man-made.
South Gare is something of a mecca for birdwatchers (or birders as many of us generally prefer to be called) as it attracts many migrant birds to stop and rest during their northward journeys in the spring and their return journeys south in the autumn. Several rare and scarce birds have also been found over the years, in amongst the more common ones. In addition many birds breed on the peninsula during the spring and summer, and many others use it during the winter when they are fleeing the harsher conditions in their breeding grounds further north. Birders have their own names for many of the features at South Gare, such as the Blast Furnace Pool, Cabin Rocks, the Bomb Crater and the Shrike Bushes, and I have managed to learn some of these (I'm still not entirely sure where the Shrike Bushes are) while also inventing some of my own names, such as "the Central Highlands".
The very end of the gare, under the shadow of the lighthouse, is a good place for 'sea-watching' - by sitting with binoculars and a telescope and staring out to sea for a protracted length of time, you have a good chance of seeing many seabirds, such as (depending on the time of year) Manx Shearwaters, Red-throated Divers, Little Auks and Long-tailed Ducks. However, you will often be, as I was this morning, surrounded by fishermen trying to catch a Mackerel or a Plaice off the end. This morning there were even three guys in kayaks fishing just off-shore - a sight I have never seen before.
As well as the birds there are also other animals, including the two Roe Deer I saw this morning, and many very interesting plants. Some of these are garden plants that have apparently been dumped there, but some of them are quite rare native plants, such as Purple Milk-vetch (Astragalus danicus), which may have found their way here naturally or may have been introduced inadvertently with some soil from elsewhere.
The birds I saw this morning would mostly have been breeding there, as the spring migration is pretty much over. They included singing Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings and Whitethroats (a kind of warbler), and also four Sandwich Terns in amongst the more numerous Common Terns during a short sea-watch at the end of the gare.
P.S. the name apparently comes from the name of a small settlement which once existed here but has since been demolished. I have been unable to find anything out about the etymology of the word 'gare', or the precise location of the settlement.
|A 'Rocky Outcrop' in the "Central Highlands" of South Gare|
|Viper's Bugloss (Echium vulgare)|
|Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis)|
|The largest of the several reedbeds, viewed from |
the "Central Highlands" of South Gare
|Part of the "Central Highlands"|
|The 'plateau' of the "Central Highlands"|
|Blast Furnace Pool, South Gare|
|View across sand dunes and beach to a rocky spit |
on the south side of the tip of South Gare
|Part of a former steel works at South Gare|
|A World War II pillbox in the |
"Central Highlands" of South Gare