Walk 3 - Holywell Dene and Old Hartley

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This delightful church is a fine example of Norman architecture © Maureen Ritson

This delightful church is a fine example of Norman architecture

The harbour at Seaton Sluice showing ’The Cut’ created by the Delavals © Michael Thompson

The harbour at Seaton Sluice showing ’The Cut’ created by the Delavals

The south facing orangery was an excellent hothouse © Kate Phillips

The south facing orangery was an excellent hothouse

Route overview

This is a five mile self-guided walk taking in the points of interest around Holywell Dene and Old Hartley, including the history of the local area, the Delaval family, and Seaton Delaval Hall. The walk should take around 3 hours.


Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Map of Walk 3 - Holywell Dene and Old Hartley
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Seaton Delaval Hall main gates

  1. Leave Seaton Delaval Hall by the main gates, turn left on the footpath and follow the Estate wall around the bend as far as the gates to the grounds of the Church of Our Lady and its secluded graveyard (open Summer only - Fridays 11.00 to 4.00, Sundays 2.00 to 4.00). Retrace your steps back to the main road and turn left to walk up the Avenue towards Seaton Delaval.

    Show/HideChurch of Our Lady

    The Church of Our Lady was built by the Normans, and is over 1000 years old.

    This delightful church is a fine example of Norman architecture © Maureen Ritson
  2. Turn left at the first junction (S.P. Public Bridleway) into Harbord Terrace. Harbord Terrace, named after Elizabeth Evelyn Harbord the wife of the 20th Lord Hastings, was built in the late c19th for estate workers, the first cottage being the blacksmiths. Go to the lane end and continue straight ahead between fields. There are lovely views across to the left where you can see the Mausoleum and the Obelisk. The fields are known as “The Dairy House Fields” and before you reach the second iron gate there are traces of the Dairy House Farm on the right hand side with the duck pond on the left. A short distance further on and you can see on your left traces of the former Nightingale Pit. Immediately after the iron gate continue straight on down the farm track with open fields on your left, ignore left hand turn of farm track but carry straight on (S.P. on right) to reach the wooded Holywell Dene.

  3. Go through the gate and turn left on to the footpath. After a short distance on the opposite side of Dene was the site of the Hartley Engine House, birthplace in 1756 of William Carr, the “Hartley Samson”. Walk passed Hartley West Farm on your left. At the fork in the path take the left hand path passing the ruined fragment of Hartley Mill and continue down hill to a lower path and turn left. At the next fork either go left then through a gate and turn right down the farm road or go right through the squeeze stile across a grassy area then over a stile and turn right onto the same farm road. Cross the stone bridge and follow the tarmac road to reach Hartley Lane. Turn left and follow the road passing, on your right, the remains of the bridge abutments of the 1914 railway line (never used) from Monkseaton to Seaton Sluice to reach the roundabout on the main road.

  4. Carefully go straight across the main road to reach the mid-c18th Delaval Arms. The Delaval Arms, an old coaching inn, was originally situated in the centre of Old Hartley, a thriving community of fishermen and miners, 200 years ago. Outside the pub stands the remnant of the Blue Stone, a historic boundary marker which the “Hartley Samson” is reputed to have lifted. Keeping the Delaval Arms on your left proceed straight ahead. Behind the pub you can see the water tower at Fort House, a former officer’s quarters and range-finding post of WW1 Roberts Battery, one of two “Tyne Turrets” protecting the river Tyne approaches. Each turret was equipped with a twin 12 inch (304mm) turret from the battleship HMS Illustrious. As you continue you pass what was Old Hartley’s village green, and go down the road to a cliff edge car park.

  5. To continue on this walk turn left and walk along the cliff top footpath towards Seaton Sluice. Follow the path around Crag Point and turn right on joining Collywell Bay Road. On your right is an isolated sandstone pinnacle known as Charlie’s Garden, named after the person who cultivated the top of it before the sea finally eroded the rocks between it and the mainland. It is not a sea stack but is the result of c19th quarrying. Turn right along Collywell Bay Road and when the road curves left go straight on along West Terrace with the WW1 Memorial Garden on your left; in there are a war memorial and toilets. At the end of West Terrace is the c18th Kings Arms pub. Opposite find the iron pivot of an earlier swivelling footbridge which spanned The Cut, the pivot is actually set onto the base of the Harbour Master’s shelter. The Cut was made by John and Thomas Delaval between 1761- 1764 and gave improved access for ships to the old harbour and also created the New Harbour, a wet / dry dock, to allow the loading of cargo at all states of the tide and weather. This also created Rocky Island.

    Show/HideThe Cut at Seaton Sluice harbour

    The 'cut' enabled large ships to enter the harbour.

    The harbour at Seaton Sluice showing ’The Cut’ created by the Delavals © Michael Thompson
  6. Proceed along the side of the harbour, turn right and cross the small iron bridge. Then turn left and down the short flight of steps to pass under the road bridge and continue half right to reach the street of bungalows (Seaburn Grove), bear right in front of the bungalows.

  7. Cross the footbridge onto Rocky Island. This area was once known as “The Pans” due to salt making carried out there from at least 1236. Hartley Pans was an early name for Seaton Sluice, the port being a natural inlet until 1660 when Sir Ralph Delaval built a stone pier and added a Battery of three cannon to protect the entrance. Now Rocky Island is uninhabited except for two former coastguard cottages and the 1880 Volunteer Life-saving Watch House, now a museum. In 1901, 63 people lived here but by 1962 all had left, all having to move out due to the failure of their homes meeting the requirements of the 1957 Housing Act. Retrace your steps and return to the mainland. Ahead of you, on the opposite side of the Memorial Gardens, is the Waterford Arms, named after Susan, granddaughter of Lord Delaval and wife of the Marquis of Waterford. Next door is the Octagon built in c18th as His Majesty’s Revenue Office; it was later the Copperas House, a Public Reading Room and a house. After crossing the footbridge turn right and descend the steps to the side of the Harbour. Opposite is Sandy Island, a huge hill formed from the ballast unloaded from the ships over the centuries. During the Napoleonic Wars a blockhouse was built to protect the harbour mouth. It is difficult to imagine that in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries Seaton Sluice was a major exporter of coal, salt and glass bottles. In 1777, the following were exported: 80,000 tons of coal, 300 tons of salt and 1 ¾ million glass bottles.

  8. At the roundabout turn left and stay on the footpath all the way back to the Hall. On your way, on your right, you pass the c18th farmhouse Lookout Farm, used during the Napoleonic War as a look out post. Opposite is another view of the Mausoleum, built in 1777 by Sir John Hussey Delaval for his son John who died in 1776 aged 19. The Mausoleum was never consecrated and John is buried at Doddington, Lincolnshire. Further on you may also see, over the wall, the Orangery and the houses previously used by the garden employees. You will then reach your original starting point at the main gates of the Hall.

    Show/HideThe Orangery

    The Orangery provided the Delaval family with exotic fruits and plants.

    The south facing orangery was an excellent hothouse © Kate Phillips

End: Seaton Delaval Hall main gates

In partnership with

Cotswold Outdoor logo © Cotswold Outdoor
  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 5m (8km)
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Terrain:

    Flat walking on public paths and pavements, may be muddy in places, some steps and also need to cross a main road busy with traffic

  • How to get here:

    The walk starts at the front gates of Seaton Delaval Hall. Check our home page for details on how to get to the hall.

  • Facilities:

    Toilets and refreshments are available at the Hall, ideal for “before and / or afters” and they are also available at Seaton Sluice

  • Contact us