Welcome to Maze Park Nature Reserve
Maze Park is a green oasis right at the centre of Teesside. Visitors can climb one of its landscaped mounds to enjoy panoramic views of the conurbation. Much of the site has been planted with a variety of broad-leaved trees and there are some lovely wildflower meadows to attract pollinators such as the regionally scarce grayling butterfly.
Facilities & Accessibility
There is a FREE informal car park at the bottom of Maze Lane, before it turns the corner into the old Marshalling Yards. This is roughly surfaced and please be aware that there are some quite deep potholes on Maze Lane. Parking is also available on the slipway next to the Barrage (accessed via a left turn just before Maze Lane). From here, visitors can follow the surfaced track along the river and into the reserve.
Unfortunately, there are no toilets available on site, however toilets are available at the Talpore Inn (Beefeater) – across the barrage.
For anyone with mobility issues, much of the reserve can be enjoyed from the flat and surfaced Sustrans cycle path (which also accommodates pedestrians). The remaining, upper part of the reserve is accessed via footpaths surfaced with bound gravel. There is a short flight of steps to reach this upper-level.
There are no dog waste bins on the reserve. Bins can be found at the International White Water Centre over the Barrage and up by the Talpore Inn. KEEP DOGS ON A LEAD – CLEAR UP AFTER YOUR ANIMALS – DON’T DISTURB THE WILDLIFE. Thank you!
The reserve is generally flat, with two levels reached via a few steps. For the adventurous, there is also an option to follow the winding path up the largest of the landscaped mounds for a great panoramic view over the surrounding area. The winding path is fairly gentle.
There is a tarmac surfaced cycle / footpath that flanks the Tees and overlooks parts of the reserve. Within the reserve itself, most footpaths are bound gravel, keeping well drained in all weather.
Glades and open grassland within the reserve have attracted more than 12 species of butterfly including the increasingly scarce grayling and dingy skipper. The steep river banks provide nesting habitat for a small colony of sand martins and give excellent views of common and grey seals which prey on salmon preparing to negotiate a passage through the Tees Barrage.
The Teesside Development Corporation acquired Maze Park in the late 1980’s. Reclamation of the extensive Head Wrightson works in Thornaby, which preceded the construction of the Teesdale business park, released a great deal of waste substrate and soils. The landscaping of these waste materials formed the mounds which dominate Maze Park today.
The central mound is flat-topped and its plateau consists of the characteristic steelworks slag materials, presumably originating from the Thornaby blast furnace; one of the first of such structures on Teesside. The steelworks waste is lime-rich, low in nutrients and free-draining and its nearest natural equivalent would be chalk grasslands or base-rich sand dunes systems. Typically they contain an abundance of herb species including yellow wort, black medick, common centaury and bird’s-foot trefoil.
These grasslands form an open sward with patches of bare ground and support two species of butterfly that have suffered significant declines across Britain – the grayling and dingy skipper. They also provide excellent habitat for bird species in national decline such as the grey partridge and skylark.
In 1998, the Trust took over the site. We are lucky to have an opportunity to protect such a classic example of Teesside slag grassland, with its rich biodiversity and links with the area’s industrial heritage. As well as planting 6 hectares of woodland, the Trust constructed a network of surfaced paths to allow visitors to enjoy every part of Maze Park.