© 2012 Friends of Holywell Dene. All Rights Reserved

History of the Dene

The first reference to Holywell Dene was in 800AD although it was then known as Merkel Dene. It was part of the Manor of Hartley.

In 1219 the Manor of Hartley was conferred to Gilbert de Laval and became part of the Delaval Estate, as it is today.

About Us

In 2000 Holywell Dene was in a bad state and deteriorating rapidly. The tenant farmer’s right to over-winter cattle in the Dene had heavily affected the ground flora and natural regeneration, as well as severely damaging the numerous paths.

Welcome to Holywell Dene!

Holywell Dene is in the South East corner of Northumberland, with a small part straddling the border into North Tyneside.

The Dene stretches for approximately 6km between the villages of Seghill in the west, passing close to Holywell and Old Hartley, and thence to Seaton Sluice on the coast in the east.

Holywell Dene is a steep sided ancient semi-natural woodland and is traversed by a small river known as the Seaton Burn. Between Old Hartley and Seaton Sluice, where the river enters the sea, the valley widens into a tidal flood plain.

Much of the Dene is part of the Delaval Estate. In 2000 the Estate granted the two Councils a 99-year lease; they in turn designated their areas Local Nature Reserves.


In the same year, 2000, a voluntary community group called Friends of Holywell Dene was established.

Flora and Fauna

The woodlands of Holywell Dene, together with its adjacent agricultural fields, support a wide variety of Flora and Fauna.

Wild flowers found, which are indicators of native woodland, include:                                

Bluebells in the Dene

Latest News


The Fauna page of the Flora and Fauna section has been updated with a report for April.


Dates for your Diary

A list of forthcoming events throughout the year.  



Nine volunteers assembled again at the Crowhall Farm entrance today for a mixed task around the upstream meadow. Conditions were good for outdoor work: dry, mild and under a milky sky.

Right, there’s a lot of ground to cover, so here goes ….  



A work party of six met at Crowhall Farm on a lovely summer morning to continue with sycamore- bashing, with some litter-picking on the side. The report must be rather short this week, because of the absence of several regular volunteers….  


Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan balsam, an attractive but invasive alien plant, is trying to invade the banks of the river. Please keep an eye open for it, and report it if you see it. To find out what it looks like, view our Himalayan Balsam Guide.


It was a cold morning as ten of us met up to take the walk along to the waterfall/weir where we were to begin another morning of ‘sycamore bashing’. Not many tools needed just a few pairs of loppers, bow saws and telescopic handled saws and of course a bag for any litter we come across….  



Nothing says the holiday season has begun more than the working party assembling with the grand total of seven attendees. It was a gloriously sunny morning but we were reasonably cool and sheltered as yet again we were sycamore bashing ….  



The morning dawned bright and sunny again which in some ways was a little unfortunate as today was the start of the strimming season, which is hot tiring work at the best of times.  Eight of us put our best feet forward….  



A group of 7 volunteers gathered at Hartley Lane car park on what was initially a bright sunny morning despite the forecast for rain….