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 work party of seven turned out for a “warm up” session for the new year which started at 9:00 and was rained off at 11:00. The weather was uninviting: dull and cold, with the ground partly frozen....
A work party of nine volunteers assembled at the metal gate on the Hartley West Farm road at 8:30 for another session of winter footpath maintenance. The conditions were far from inspiring, with an unbroken blanket of cloud overhead and very damp conditions underfoot ...
A party of ten hardy volunteers converged on Holywell for the usual Tuesday morning work session. This was a classic volunteering day in winter: sleet blowing on an icy wind, but with a sun shining obliquely out of an open sky ...
Today the work party of eleven was split into two groups even before the work started: a fence demolition squad and the main party – see below. The weather was a big improvement on recent days: mild; a bit drizzly initially but getting fairly bright ...
A work party of 9 or more volunteers plus a star guest (the retired work party leader) assembled at the Hartley Lane carpark today for a classic conservation event: shovelling mud (see below) plus footpath repair. This all happened under a mainly grey sky...
Eight of us turned out today to form a work party for a morning’s path repair work. We managed to stick it out from before 8:30 until about 12:00 despite the cold and snow. The snow may only have been a dusting, but it made the surfaces very slippy...
A work party of twelve turned out to do path repairs this morning. The weather conditions were poor: wet, cold and windy (when not in the shelter of the Dene)...