© 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 June.


Dates for your Diary

A list of forthcoming events throughout the year.  


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.


A group of seven volunteers met at Hartley West Farm metal gate for a path-verge strimming session. The weather was dullish, which is preferred to strong sunshine for outdoor work….  



A small team of six gathered at the gas pumping station on Wallridge Drive, Holywell on a cold and windy morning. Is it really June?….  



A special balsam-bashing event took place at Seghill today, and it was a BIG SUCCESS! Fifteen volunteers turned up, drawn from the regular work-party squad and the wider Friends membership. We worked away at pulling out Himalayan balsam….  



A work party of 10 met at the entrance of Crowhall Farm for a morning of strimming, hedge-cutting and unblocking drains. It was bright, but damp underfoot….  



A work party of 10 volunteers met at Hartley Lane car park to tackle two jobs: (1) to continue with the strimming work, and (2) to clear blockages on the Seaton Burn….  



The morning began with a sense of relief that we were having a break from the strimming, We met at Wallridge Drive, Holywell next to the pumping station and divided into 3 groups….  



A much reduced number of five volunteers gathered next to Crow Hall Farm house on a dull day with a steady drizzle falling. Fortunately this quickly stopped….