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Cleadon White Horse

Cleadon Hills, South Shields, Tyne and Wear

Location Guide

A small horse, painted on a rock face with tar and lime wash, 2 metres high by 3 metres wide. It is now covered in graffiti.

It can be found, south of South Shields on the Cleadon Hills. It is said that it could be seen from much of South Shields, until houses were built since the Second World War.

There are at least six different stories as to how this horse came about, the first material to mention it is in 1887, although some people say it was created in 1940.

  • Nestre, the daughter of a Saxon nobleman called Thalphere, fell in love with a Danish chief, Rolf Hardre. The lovers met on Marsden beach. One day, during the lovers' meeting, Rolf's white horse wandered off. The lovers were discovered by a party led by Thalphere and during the struggle that followed they were killed. The mare was later found dead at the bottom of the cliff.

  • Lady Williamson and her husband Sir Hedworth Williamson would ride out along the beach. One tragic day she set out alone on her white mare towards Marsden rock. She was never seen again. In tribute to his master's tragedy, Wareham the stableman, painted the white horse.

  • William Johnson, a keen farmhand, decided to impress his master by breaking in a stubborn white mare, despite being told to leave it for his master to deal with. Things went wrong when the mare broke free and charged over a cliff to her death. The horse was painted to commemorate this, or perhaps as a warning to others.

  • A retired colonel from the Napoleonic wars could no longer ride his treasured white battle charger. He had it kept in a field within view of his house. One day it was stolen. To save the colonel upset the tenant, charged with its care, painted a white horse on the rock. The colonel, none the wiser, continued to admire his faithful white charger from his window till the end of his days.

  • A huntsman, out with his friends one day, became separated from them. They later found his body at the bottom of a limestone outcrop alongside his white horse also dead. The horse was painted in his memory.

  • A gentleman landowner by the name of Ness decided to have it painted on a Whim. The white horse was painted to grace his estate and has been repainted by locals ever since, keeping his whim alive.

It is one of only four white horses in Britain to face right.

Only a single entry found, so this is based completely off the internet page at  www.hows.org.uk/personal/hillfigs/clea/cleadon.htm.   I have not visited. You can see it on aerial photos.

Further information Grid



Cleadon White Horse, Cleadon Hills, South Shields, Tyne & Wear

Ceremonial County: Durham

Grid Reference:


Map Link:

Ordnance survey NZ393645

Aerial photo:

Google Aerial Photo



Best Times to Visit:






Other useful websites:


Nearby Locations:  
Other Relevant pages:

Introduction to hillside figures

How to photograph hillside figures

Listing of hillside figures



Planning Grid


Cleadon White Horse, Cleadon Hills, South Shields, Tyne and Wear

Grid Reference:


Getting there:

See map links


Appears to be an open area, I have not visited.


Nearby estate, see aerial photo, and zoom our or see maps



Things To Do, See and Photograph:

Cliffs, possible views

What to take:


Nature highlights:








Opening times:

No known restrictions



Photo Restrictions:


Other Restrictions: None
Special Needs Access: Difficult terrain
Special Needs Facilities: None
Children Facilities: Probably not that exciting for children
Dogs Allowed: No known restrictions

Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Further information and Planning Grids or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Keith Park Section: White Horse & Hillside Features Key:
Page Ref: cleadon Topic: Hillside Last Updated: 01/2012


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