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 September.
Dates for your Diary
A list of forthcoming events throughout the year.
After last weeks respite from our regular summer occupation of strimming, normal service was resumed today when a team of seven volunteers met at the Hartley West Farm gate. The task ahead was to complete the clearing of the Old Hartley meadow....
After last week’s session was cancelled due to inclement weather, otherwise known as ‘summer’ ten volunteers, champing at the bit, met at Crow Hall Farm for what will probably be a final mornings strimming for this year....
A work party of 7 met up at the gas pumping station at the end of Wallridge Drive in Holywell today, to complete some area-strimming and clear a blockage of the river caused by a big fallen tree....
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.
On a true autumn morning of heavy mist and the occasional sighting of a watery sun, nine volunteers met at an area of the dene the current working party has not worked in before. We were at what I believe is known locally as the Seghill Stone Bridge....
A big work party of twelve turned out for a morning of path maintenance on the west side of the Seaton Burn estuary today, on a sunny and blustery day. A laser-like sun compensated, in the more sheltered places at least, for a strong chilly wind....
A work party of eleven converged on a non-standard venue today – the far SW corner of Holywell – for a morning’s river-clearance, litter-picking and balsam-bashing. The weather was not very encouraging....