Built in in 14th Century, Croft Bridge was one of a number of important medieval bridges that spanned the River Tees. Like many of its type, it was built out of sandstone and is made up of arches. It still has inscriptions commemorating important dates and events, ensuring its restorations were remembered. The fact that the bridge was restored, instead of being rebuilt, it demonstrates, like the bridge in Piercebridge, the importance of river crossings in this part of the Tees Valley no matter their state of repair. It was easier to repair this stone bridge than to build another. Connecting North Yorkshire with County Durham, it stands as an important gateway to the northern lands for travel, trade and work. On the bridge itself, there is a plaque that commemorates Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Damaged by floods in its early years, the bridge was repaired on numerous occasions between its construction and 1658, as commemorative plaques tell us. On the bridge, there are two coats of arms, those of Yorkshire and Durham, which mark the boundary, and link, between the two great counties. As one would expect, there was a toll house on the bridge, collecting payment from those traversing the crossing, but this was swept away in the Great Flood of 1753 – along with all the toll money! Unlike on previous occasions, the bridge survived mainly intact. A few years later, John Carr, the nationally famous, and leading architect of his time, widened the bridge, which allowed wider carriages and goods vehicles to cross – and more tolls to be collected.

The bridge still plays an important role today, as not only a crossing point still, but as a ceremonial stage for Bishops of Durham. Every time a new Bishop of Durham enters the diocese of Durham for the first time, the Conyers Falchion (a type of sword) – usually kept at Durham Cathedral – is presented at the centre of the bridge.

The bridge also lies right on the Teesdale Way. This section of the trail is a particularly beautiful in the nature and wildlife it contains, and can be enjoyed throughout the year as the nature changes. A walk along the river is a perfect way to enjoy the bridge and the surrounding area, as you can take in so many more details than when you are driving over it.

Source - Historic England