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

Upcoming Events

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



Only six volunteers were available for work in the Dene this morning, but they got through quite a lot of it. The venue was the lane outside the gas pumping station near Concorde House….



A muster of seven working party members turned out at Wallridge Drive, Holywell, for another river clearance session this morning, on a day that felt unusually warm, and without either rain or wind! ….



River clearance was the main task for the nine-volunteer working-party this morning, which witnessed three unusual meteorological phenomena: sunshine, warmth and absence of rain!….



On Saturday 20th April the Friends of Holywell Dene held a fundraising concert at St. Paul’s Church Seaton Sluice, featuring the Backworth Male Voice Choirt….



The working party session this morning was the first full strimming session of the summer. Eight volunteers turned out at the Melton Constable end of the estuary on a dull, cool day – ideal conditions for doing this kind of work….



A working party of nine continued with the 2024 strimming effort this morning, starting at Hartley Lane carpark. That meant four strimmers in action with four rakers in attendance, and one volunteer on the hedge trimmer….



Eight volunteers assembled this morning at the metal gate on Hartley West Farm road for another morning of strimming, on a day of mixed sunshine and showers that was rather cold for the time of year….



Strimming was again the task facing the working party this morning, on the eastern side of the estuary and up the footpath from there towards the Hartley Lane carpark….