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 January.
Dates for your Diary
A list of forthcoming events throughout the year.
A large work party of 12 met at Dene Cottage on the estuary to continue work on the high-level bypass path. It was a fine day for the time of year, with the sun actually showing well. The ground was not too soggy underfoot...
A reduced squad of seven (magnificent) volunteers turned out this frosty morning before dawn for something different: re-instating the old high-level path on the western side of the estuary. It was cold, dark and frosty when we started (and there were not many dog-walkers around)...
An almost complete work party of 13 assembled near the Melton Constable to continue the estuary bypass path project this morning. The working conditions were good: mild and dry, but dullish with some glimmerings of sunshine. At this time of year it is dark at 8:30am when we start, but more-or-less light by 9:00am...
A work party of ten volunteers assembled at Hartley Lane carpark for a morning of hazel coppicing and fencing. This was under an open sky and over ground that was frozen in places and rather too soft in others, with a wind getting up later...
A 12-person work party continued reinstating the estuary high path and coppicing hazels this morning in wet conditions.
We don’t normally get wet on task days, either because (rarely) the session is called off because of bad weather or because any rain comes in light showers. Today was the exception...
Ten volunteers assembled near Dene Cottage this morning to continue the refurbishment of the estuary high-level path. It was a frosty start, but there was enough brightness for the working conditions to be tolerable….
Refurbishment of the estuary high path continued this morning, with eight volunteers meeting at 8:30 near Dene Cottage on a milder-than-usual morning. The puddles had a covering of ice, but it was already melting by the time we started, so the ground was rather muddy….