Crowds came out to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to Redcar and Cleveland.
Princess Anne visited the world’s oldest lifeboat, The Zetland, in Redcar before going on to Saltburn to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cleveland Way National Trail.
The Princess Royal met volunteers at The Zetland Museum which houses the 1802-built boat which has recently been returned to the town following refurbishment.
Her Royal Highness then went to Saltburn Valley Gardens, part of the 109-mile Cleveland Way National Trail.
There she met volunteers and user groups plus representatives from the North York Moors National Park Authority, Natural England and the Council who help promote and maintain the Cleveland Way, which was voted the nation’s favourite National Trail in an online poll.
Crowds waving union flags greeted Her Royal Highness as she visited the area.
Leader of Redcar & Cleveland Council, Councillor Mary Lanigan, said: “It was wonderful that Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal came to our wonderful borough to see one of the world’s truly historic maritime boats as well as our stunningly beautiful countryside on the Cleveland Way.”
Janette Picknett, Chairperson of the Zetland Lifeboat Museum, said: “We were delighted to receive a visit from Her Royal Highness today.
“I was very pleased to show her around the museum, paying particular attention to our centrepiece, The Zetland Lifeboat, which has been subject to thorough conservation work over the winter.
“Our Museum is entirely volunteer-run, and the Princess was introduced to many of our team, as well as the artisans who carried out the conservation work, as she passed through our various exhibition spaces.
“Her Royal Highness unveiled a plaque to commemorate her visit, and this will be displayed in pride-of-place in the Museum to celebrate this important occasion.
“We are all very proud that The Princess Royal was kind enough to recognise the significance of Redcar’s famous Lifeboat, and the dedication of our volunteers, in this way.”
Malcolm Hodgson, Trail Manager for the Cleveland Way National Trail, said: “This is a very special year for the Cleveland Way, so it is wonderful that The Princess Royal chose to share the celebrations with us and to meet the many staff, volunteers, landowners, user groups and supporters who help to make the trail so special.
A spokesperson for Natural England, which also helps maintain the Trail, said: “Natural England is delighted that the Princess Royal has visited the Cleveland Way in Saltburn as it continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
“We hope that the experience will form a lasting memory, demonstrating the results that can be achieved by key partners such as Redcar and Cleveland and the North York Moors National Park working together with Natural England to make a beautiful part of the England Coast accessible for local people and visitors to enjoy.”
The Zetland lifeboat saved more than 500 lives during her 62 years of active service. She was even brought out of retirement in 1880 to save a further seven lives when both of Redcar’s then-current lifeboats had been damaged in a severe storm.
It was returned earlier this year after being removed for refurbishment which was only the second time the boat has left her home on Redcar’s Esplanade since 1907 (the last time was in 1963).
The Cleveland Way officially launched in May 1969, following almost two decades of planning.
Since then the National Trail, which is managed through the Cleveland Way Partnership by the North York Moors National Park Authority and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, has become one of the UK’s rural treasures.