Your refuge from the bustle of daily life © 2012 Friends of Holywell Dene. All Rights Reserved

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.

About Us

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

Latest News


The Fauna page of the Flora and Fauna section has been updated with a report for January.


2020 Calendar

Due to popular demand we have decided to produce a calendar for 2021. All the photographs have been donated by our members and were taken in Holywell Dene.


Upcoming Events

Dates for your diaries - a list of events occurring throughout the year can be found here.



A working party of ten volunteers, on what promised to be a warm sunny day, met at the metal gate on Hartley West Farm road to continue strimming in the meadow….



It was a lovely morning when the work party reported at the metal gate on Hartley West Farm for a morning of strimming….



A party of eight volunteers met on a lovely late summer’s morning at Crowhall farm for a day strimming. We have to park our cars at the entrance and walk half a mile to the farmhouse….


29-Sep-20 Rescuing Our Wildflower Meadow

Not long after the formation of the ‘Friends of Holywell Dene’ (FoHD), it was decided that the grassy area upstream of the stone bridge near Hartley West Farm would make a good wildflower meadow….



Well we’re back, but for how long? We have been given the go-ahead by Northumberland County Council to do (badly-needed) task work in the Dene, provided we strictly follow covid guidelines, which we do….



One of the tasks for the working party which was delayed due to the lockdown is repairing the fence to the high-level estuary path….