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.



The first working party session of the new year was a bit of a subdued affair: eight volunteers doing maintenance on the path on the west side of the estuary from 10 o’clock to about noon. As so often, the task work consisted of two parts….



A working party of six volunteers was all we could muster this morning, on a dull, cold day. (Several of our regulars are either on holiday or have health issues at present.)….



On a frosty but dimly bright day, eight volunteers turned out at the farm gate on the Hartley West Farm road to do some river maintenance and drain clearing. The working party split in two ….



Seven of us assembled at the Holywell water pumping station today for a morning of logjam clearance and culvert unblocking – as you do, on a cold winter’s morning! (It was actually much warmer down in the Dene that it was in the cold wind “up top”)….



A party of eight volunteers turned up at the metal gate on Hartley West Farm road on a mild dry morning for a day of coppicing and gully work (which had been planned for last week but was rained off)….



The working party met up on the West Hartley Farm road near the stone bridge this morning to sort out the meadow, which has been flooded. There were nine of us – just enough to do the job….