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.
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
The Fauna page of the Flora and Fauna section has been updated with a report for July.
Dates for your Diary
A list of forthcoming events throughout the year.
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.
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….
A work party of only six volunteers – you can tell it’s summer season! – turned up at Hartley Road car park for a fun-packed morning of strimming….
A task group of seven volunteers met at Millfield / Edwin Place (Old Hartley) on a hot summer’s morning to do some path-verge strimming….
A team of nine volunteers turned up at Dene Cottage for a morning of strimming and fallen-tree removal. There was a welcome return for one of the volunteers who had last worked with us in 2016 but left to go to university….
A work party of seven volunteers met at the metal gate on Hartley West Farm road for a morning of strimming, on a warm summer’s day. We split into three teams of two, with the spare person ….
A volunteer party of seven met at the entrance of Crowhall Farm for a morning of strimming and tree removal. Four volunteers headed to the small meadow beside the wooden bridge ….