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Forthcoming Events

Previous News Items

Past News Items and working party updates can be viewed by clicking HERE.

Dates For Your Diaries, a number of events throughout the coming year.

Previous news items / working party updates can be viewed by clicking HERE


A work party of nine gathered at Crowhall Farm to attend to a fallen tree (see photo) which had damaged the path just below the waggonway. A member of Friends of Holywell Dene happened to be walking the Dene yesterday and witnessed the tree falling. This person took some photos and relayed them to FoHD by email, so we knew what tools and materials were required.

When we arrived at the scene, we split into two teams. Some went to dig out hardcore to back-fill the hole. The others set about hammering in recycled posts and decking boards to stabilise the path. Roots from the tree were cut that would otherwise get in the way of walkers. The boarding was soon in place, so we started back-filling. A relay was set up to share the hard work of pushing the wheelbarrow loaded with hardcore from the pile to the damaged path. After a lot of work, the path was back to being a safe place to walk and enjoy the beauty of the Dene.

Photograph A. Path before

Photograph B. Path after

It’s worth remembering that there is a page on the website that you can use to contact the Friends via email or telephone, to report anything you want to draw our attention to in the Dene. If it’s within our remit, we will take the appropriate action, and if not, we can point you in the right direction to get help.

Estuary Path

The Council have finished their work. Normal service has been resumed. You can use either the lower or upper path to navigate the western side of the estuary.

Photograph C. Repaired estuary path

Red Squirrels

We have been hoping for sightings of red squirrels in the Dene for some time. They are known to be close. A red was seen in Holywell on 31st July. On 21st September, one was seen in Hester Gardens, New Hartley. Unfortunately on 27th September a red, maybe the same one, was found dead on the Avenue road! We will have to be patient. Watch this space.

12-Oct-19 Coffee Morning

The ‘Friends’ held their annual coffee morning at Seaton Sluice Community Centre on Saturday 12th October. The weather gods were kind on the day, resulting in a record breaking turnout of visitors, enjoying delicious homemade treats and beverages whilst getting to know other like minded people.

Members often use the coffee morning as a way of renewing their membership and buying a ‘must have’ 2020 FoHD calendar, but unfortunately this year a number of calendars were discovered to be missing their hangers, so some visitors ultimately went home empty handed. Hangers have now been fitted to the offending calendars and they are back on sale, (a calendar order form can be found elsewhere on this web site).

Raffle ticket sales were exceptional this year, probably due to the fact that there was not one but two star prizes of a weekend cottage break up for grabs. Also very popular was the display of projects carried out by our working party over the past year, and the stall selling various handmade items produced by our members was also very busy.

At close of play everyone went home happy, leaving a bunch of exhausted volunteer helpers to clear up what little remained of the edible goodies, and thus restore the hall to it’s everyday layout.

A big thank you to everyone who donated prizes for this years raffle, it was very much appreciated, and also thanks to our helpers and visitors who made it such an enjoyable morning.

See you all again next year?......


A party of eight returned to Dove Cottage on a fine autumn morning for a day of sycamore bashing and tidying the path by the upper estuary.

While we were working last week we noticed that, above the new section of the path which was repaired earlier this year, some of the sycamore trees’ roots were seriously exposed, and if any of these trees fell they would take away some of the new path.

So, it was decided that the best course of action was to trim as many of the branches as we could reach, to lighten the load the trees had to withstand. We set about this with bow saws, branch pruners and extending branch saws, to reach as high as we could.

A couple of the team stood at each end of the work area on the lower path to warn any approaching walkers that we were working above them, and to remove the branches as they were cut down.

Photograph A. Trimming sycamores

We cut as much as was possible and removed all the branches to one safe area before it was finishing time.

Wildlife on the estuary:

 a heron

 a little egret

 a flock of redshanks

Here’s what the egret looks like, in case you are down the estuary way – it is usually to be seen.

Photograph B. Little egret


A party of ten volunteers met at Dene Cottage on an autumn morning to put the finishing touches to the new high-level path we started at the beginning of the year.

A pair of volunteers set off to finish strimming the area near the bottom of the estuary. The other eight tackled the high-level path.

When Northumberland County Council finished their repairs on the lower path, as reported last week, they left us a pile of aggregate to enable us to give our path a durable surface. We had to fill buckets with this material and carry them up from the bottom of the path to where it was needed.

Photograph A. Surfacing high-level path

After a couple of times up and down the path carrying full buckets, to catch your breath you had to swap over with the person who was raking the gravel smooth, and they took over with the bucket work.

Photograph B. Finished path

We just had enough material to complete the path and tidy up where we had been. Having time to spare, we set to work cleaning out gullies along the bottom path, which were full of leaves and mud. We got part of this work done before our time ran out and we packed up for the day.

Photograph C. Blocked gully


A work party of eight met at the metal gate on Hartley West Farm road for a morning of gully clearance and some further sycamore bashing.

We loaded up the wheelbarrow with branch loppers, extending branch saw and various spades, rakes and bow saws, and marched off along the bottom path upstream. When we came to where the gabions are, it was noticed that the path needed repairing. So, two of the team set about that job, bringing aggregate from our pile further down the path. This was soon completed and the two members then returned to the main party.

We came across a few gullies that needed our attention – blocked with leaves and branches. These were tackled with the spades and rakes. A fair amount of debris was removed, caused by the recent rain we have had. Soon the standing water was seen to be running free and draining away as required.

Picture A. Clearing a gully

Two of the team now went to have a look at the drainage between the “Rest a While” seat and the wooden bridge. It was discovered that this wasn’t draining away as well as we wanted, so the filter on the top of the pipe was removed while a new way can be implemented to drain that area.

Picture B. The problem drainage

For the remaining time we split into pairs and went sycamore-bashing, concentrating on the area between the top and bottom paths beside the incline leading down to the wooden bridge. Keeping sycamores from taking over the woodland is a never-ending job!

Finally, here’s a Halloween picture – something ghoulish is watching us; oo-agh!

Picture C. Somethings watching us


A party of nine volunteers met today at Crowhall Farm for a morning’s work on the Holywell Bridge path beside the oxbow lake: removal of a fallen tree and some sycamore bashing. The main topic of conversation was that today’s session was going ahead despite the weather – with a lot of rain predicted to fall overnight, everybody was expecting a text message to say the session was off, but the boss held his nerve and it turned out to be a good call.

After loading up the wheelbarrows with the tools, off we went to tackle today’s tasks. When we arrived at the fallen tree it was decided it would only take three people to move it off the path, so the rest of the party split into pairs and went looking for any sycamore that needed cutting back.

Photograph A. Puzzling over fallen tree

The hand-winch was soon set up with the strap around a sturdy tree, stretching across the lake. Two people took turns on the winch, and the other person stood on the path watching for walkers. The two trunks were soon removed, and the three volunteers were able to join up with the rest of the party.

Photograph B. Problem solved!

The main party started to trim the branches of any tree overhanging the path, to make the way safe for walkers enjoying the Dene. As well as cutting the branches we also cut back any ivy wrapped around the trees, as this makes the trees heavier and more susceptible to coming down in high winds.

It was noticed that the path was in a bad state, with all the rain we have had recently. Large areas were difficult to navigate because of the run-off from the surrounding fields, and the oxbow lake was as high as can be remembered. To help, several small gullies were cut into the path in order to drain the puddles without damaging the path.

Please note that it is possible to walk along the path, but due care is needed while we are having this very changeable weather.


A party of eight volunteers met at Millfield in Seaton Sluice for a session of path repairs, gully clearance and hopefully a bit of sycamore bashing on the south estuary path.

The weather was dry when we loaded up the wheelbarrow with the tools required for today’s tasks, but there were plenty of upward glances to the heavens trying to guess how long we would have before the rain came, if the last few weeks were anything to go by.

When we arrived at the part of the path that needed repairing near the reed beds, we split into two teams. One set about scraping the mud and removing the grass that had crept over the path and clearing the surrounding gullies. While this was happening three volunteers pushed the wheelbarrows along to our heap of road plainings (aggregate produced when a surface layer is removed from a road or path) which had been stored on the path below Bywell Terrace about 400 meters away.

Photograph A. Path maintenance – hard work!

The going was slow as a lot of grass had encroached onto the path. None of the team could remember the last time this particular job had been undertaken. It was slow-going with the road plainings as well, as we had to walk quite a distance to reach it, then dig it out and then push the full wheelbarrow back.

After a couple of trips it was time to swap over jobs – to give each other a rest and to give everyone a chance to have a go at each of the jobs. By mid-morning it was obvious the weather was going to win in the end, as the showers were getting longer and harder – so it was decided to call it a day and come back another time.

As you can see from the photo, we have made a big difference on the path, and the part that had been flooded and needed the most attention has been completed and is now in good repair.

Photograph B. … but worth it!


Among the birds spotted today was a pair of cock pheasants, and an egret opposite to where the foot path has been recently repaired.

And somebody spotted a male wood duck on the burn recently ­– a North American species rarely seen over here – and quite a looker!

Photograph C. Wood duck