North East: why not try white water thrills at the Tees Barrage?

Challenge yourself to a wild day out on the River Tees


The Tees Barrage is one of the Canal & River Trust’s most unique structures: a huge barrier built across the River Tees in Stockton-on-Tees to prevent flooding and the mixing of saltwater from the sea with freshwater upstream. But did you know that there is also an Olympic-class white water centre alongside it?

Tees Barrage International White Water Centre is a hub for adrenalin-fuelled water sports – an aqua park where you can try an array of activities from power boating and white water kayaking to more gentle activities, such as bell-boating and stand-up paddle boarding.

But it’s white water rafting that the centre is undoubtedly most famous for – people visit in their droves to get completely soaked on a “water rollercoaster of sudden drops, crashing waves and sharp turns”. The activity is suitable for any age and requires no experience – each raft is manned by an expert guide who helps you conquer the wild waters ahead.

How the centre generates the water for its two white water courses is a feat to marvel at in itself – four 30-tonne Archimedes screws pump more than 14,000 litres of water every second. Once you’ve dried off you can calm the nerves with a hot chocolate in the Barrage Café, which overlooks the Tees and the Air Trail – a high ropes adventure course.

The area surrounding Tees Barrage is also a delight to explore. Wander up to the beautiful Infinity Bridge – so named because of the infinity symbol formed by the bridge and its reflection – and keep your eyes peeled for grey seals hunting for salmon in the churning waters.

Find out more about the water sports on offer at Tees Barrage International White Water Centre. Plan a day out to the Tees Barrage and Stockton with our guide.

Gary Calton