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Jun 2015

County Durham Coat of Arms

Although named after some old Norman, this place is probably best known because of a man called Darwin. No, not that one, silly, although there's a big, red flashing light going off here for some kind of reference to evolutionary theory and nearby Hartlepool.

No, this Darwin is the one who said to his wife in 2002... 'Just just nipping out to the shops[1] pet, I'll take the  canoe.'

[1] A glimpse of the power station there as you look south but more on that in a minute.

Missing and presumed dead, he 'hid' in the family home for nigh on three years before hot footing it to Panama with the life insurance. Turning up in 2007 at a West London cop shop and feigning amnesia, Darwin was hoping to reconcile with his two sons.

It's not actually known if at this point he said... 'I'd have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids.'

Because this was an impromptu visit, Guffer P.I. hadn't even done the most basic of investigations but revisiting the case notes suggests he holed up just half-a-mile from here.

  Fish Face (The Front)

There's competition here for the haddock and the old-skool Almighty Cod sits opposite Fish Face's more modern frontage. There, a young, bearded man in skinny jeans will serve you a hazelnut four-shot latté over a mug of tea, possibly.

Are you of an age to remember the organised, neighbourhood coach trip like the ones they used to have in the '70s? Hard lads on the back seat, unfettered displays of snogging and Panda Pops™. Looking back, it was like being in a  Ken Loach and for a younger version of this one, one of those trips was to Seaton Carew.

Some amusements remain but the old wooden breakwaters are gone as are the possibly imagined beach huts. The beach has been excavated to protect against coastal erosion and where there once were fields etc.

Time to leave? 'Aw mam, 10 more minutes - PLEASE PLEASE!' No, it's back on the bus for an interminable rendition of 'Charlie had a Pigeon' before you get home to find your pet kestrel, dead!

  Gelato Jojo (The Front)

They're queuing round the corner for the cornets but there's an option to sit inside for one of their 50 sundaes or something hot if you'd prefer.

That bus trip would have dropped off here at the 1938 Art Deco style station and clock tower, probably. This just one of the only landmarks in Seaton and, over the years, the destination for millions of visitors from the towns around Teesside and the pit villages of South East Durham.

The heyday's long gone, of course, but they're here in some numbers today, the queues for the ice-creams much longer than those here for the ' high screams'.

The Longscar Centre sits wastefully boarded up on the front with Hartlepool Borough Council and the owners at an impasse.

Looking to redevelop the area, the Council refused to pay a seven-figure sum for the building and a Compulsory Purchase Order was subsequently rejected by the Government, no less.

The current owner's plans will need Council approval so, like two stags stuck in a rut, don't expect this eyesore to be going anywhere soon.

There's an industrial panorama as you gaze out to sea. To the left and north, Hartlepool's docks. To the right and south, Hartlepool power station and, get this, it's nuclear, yoinks! It was assumed this had been decommissioned but no, several extensions to its late-night license mean this one will run until 2024.

The jutting breakwater at North Gare marks the mouth of the River Tees and all of its associated industry. Somewhat surprisingly, seal spotting is an option within this giant chemistry set.

Just beyond the power station is the  Teesmouth National Nature Reserve, which is run by Natural England. There are a couple of small car parks[1] for access to the salt marsh and mudflats where seals, wading birds and  Blinky the three-eyed fish are all on view.

[1] One near the power station for the birds and another near Cowpen Marsh for the seals with both leading to industrial backdrops.