Walk 2 – Holywell & Sluice
The walk is around the wider estate of Seaton Delaval Hall, incorporating local points of interest. The walk includes a long version (5.75 miles) or a shortened version (4.5 miles).
Seaton Delaval Hall main gates, grid ref: NZ321766
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 (open Summer only - Fridays 11:00 to 4:00, Sundays 2:00 to 4:00) and its secluded graveyard. Retrace your steps back to the main road and turn left to walk up the Avenue towards Seaton Delaval.
Turn left at the first junction (signposted 'Public Bridleway') into Harbord Terrace. 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 (signpost on right) to reach the wooded Holywell Dene.
Harbord Terrace, named after Elizabeth Evelyn Harbord the wife of the 20th Lord Hastings, was built in the late 19th century for estate workers, the first cottage being the blacksmiths.
Go through the gate and turn right on to the footpath. Cross the former Blyth and Tyne railway cutting via the stone bridge and carry on to Holywell Village in the ancient parish of Earsdon. Walk straight ahead to the end of Holywell Dene Road and on the left see Strother Farm with its 17th-century house, thought to be all that is left of Sir Ralph Bates’ manor house. In 1753 Bates acted as surveyor for Northumberland on behalf of Queen Elizabeth and he also owned Bates Island, now known as St Mary’s Island. See the 17th-century gate piers on the west garden wall and the fine Boer War Memorial Drinking Fountain. In the field (private land) behind the manor house is a spring that was used by monks as they made their way between Tynemouth and Newsteads Abbey, near Morpeth - this is how Holywell was named.
Carefully cross the main road and go left down the footpath to enter the steep lane on the right leading to the picturesque 17th-century Holywell Bridge, an important river crossing in a leafy setting on the historic route between Tynemouth and Morpeth. Return up the lane and follow the footpath around the corner, where a Second World War gun emplacement may be seen. Further on is the former 18th-century Smithy and Ye Old Fat Ox, known earlier as the Red Cow. In 1808 Thomas Bates, a renowned agriculturalist, bred a short-horn bull said to weigh 122 stone (774kg), perhaps the source of the pub’s name. Cross over the road to the garage and turn right to The Milbourne Arms, built in 1905. Milbourne Hall, near Ponteland, was home to a Bates descendant; see the coat of arms on the pub sign. The pub replaced the 18th-century Half Moon whose stables survive at the rear. Retrace your steps along Holywell Dene Road and at the end of the road turn left on the footpath in front of the houses.
Proceed through the alleyway (signposted 'Holywell Pond') and follow the path around the edge of the field and past Holywell Pond Nature Reserve. There is a bird hide where you can stop and see many different birds on the water and water’s edge. Continue on the footpath that crosses the former railway track, via two kissing gates, and over the next field to arrive back beside the iron gate you came through from the Dairy House Fields.
For the shorter walk, retrace your steps back through the fields to Seaton Delaval Hall or continue on this walk by taking the wide grassy track straight ahead, this is the Old Wagonway. On your left, as you walk along the Wagonway, is a magnificent view of the Seaton Delaval Hall and you can see the South Front steps where Sir Francis Blake Delaval fell and broke his leg, from which he subsequently died in December 1752. The Obelisk you can see is a landscape feature of the Hall Pleasure Grounds and would be a focal point for the Delavals and their guests to walk to when the weather was fine. The Wagonway was used to carry the coal from the various mines in the area to Seaton Sluice, either for export or for the industry there. Cross the stile at the iron gate and continue on the path with a hawthorn hedge on either side, you then come to a steep descent over a stile on the left and down a series of steps. You are now in part of Holywell Dene (in Saxon times known as Merkell Dene). At the bottom of the steps, on the right-hand side, you can see the foundation stones of a timber viaduct built to carry the Wagonway over the Seaton Burn.
Turn right and cross Seaton Burn using the metal bridge, turn immediately left on the path, keeping the burn on your left-hand side. On the left can be see the remains of Starlight Castle, said to have been built within 24 hours by Sir Francis Blake Delaval for a wager of 100 guineas. After a short distance further, on the left-hand side of the burn, are two 18th-century cottages and the site of Seaton Lodge, a large Jacobean house bought in 1694 by Sir Ralph Delaval and lived in by his brother Sir John Delaval. It was Sir John Delaval who sold most of the estate to Admiral George Delaval. Samuel Pepys is said to have stayed here in 1672 and, six years later, the Scottish inventor James Watt. The Lodge was demolished in the 1960s. Opposite, in the burn at low tide, can be seen the foundation stones of a footbridge used by the Delavals to reach the works complex in the now quiet and peaceful Seaton Sluice.
Continue around the burn side and under the road bridge, pause and then contemplate the scene in front of you. 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 from this port - 80,000 tons of coal, 300 tons of salt, 1.75 million glass bottles.
Seaton Sluice harbour
The 'cut' in the harbour enabled the Delavals to bring in larger ships to export their goods.
Retrace your steps (do not go under the road bridge) but turn right to cross over the metal footbridge. 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.
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 18th-century 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.
Seaton Delaval Hall main gates, grid ref: NZ321766
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