AboutThis starts and finishes at the end of the road beside a red bricked bungalow. Look out for the sign for Hawthorn Dene on the left opposite the bungalow, follow the track into the Dene.
Follow the main track as it bears along to the right then left towards the sea. Some of the woodland has existed here for over 400 years, although parts of it have been managed as a 19th Century plantation during the time of the Hawthorn Estate. Nearly 200 different plants, trees and animals have been recorded in the dene. Ash, sycamore and oak are found in abundance, whilst on the lower slopes, yew woodland can be found which is considered rare in Britain. The shrub layer includes hazel and hawthorn. Roe deer can sometimes be seen wandering through the woodland. Woodpeckers, nuthatches, jays, tree creepers and blue tits are among the many birds found in the woodland. Mammals include roe deer, fox and badger.
As the main track bears left there is another footpath to the right signposted Hawthorn Dene. This track takes you through the middle of the dene, however there are some steps on this section of the route and it can be slippery after periods of heavy rain. There is a Durham Wildlife Trust interpretation panel a few steps along this track with more information about the dene. If you follow this path it will eventually meet up with the main route. Keeping to the main track carry on ahead towards the sea with agricultural fields to the right. There are some impressive Horse Chestnut trees along this section.
Eventually we arrive at Hawthorn Meadows. This is an outstanding example of species rich calcareous grassland. In the summer months of July and August this area is awash with colour. Look out for the purple flowers of the meadow cranesbill and
several species of orchids amongst these beautiful grasslands. In late spring the area is covered with a blanket of cowslips.
Follow the path towards the railway line. The footpath now links into Durham’s section of the England Coast Path National Trail. This area was once the site of Hawthorn Towers where the Pemberton family resided from 1836. It was demolished in 1969 but a few building stones from the ‘Towers’ remain scattered around the area as a reminder of times past. The estate included tennis courts, gardens and orchards. Close to here was Hawthorn Halt, the Pemberton family’s private railway station. Just before the stile at the railway line turn left then continue along the path up several steps. Follow the track until almost the end of the trees. Turn left at the waymarker heading away from the sea.
Follow the track through the woodland. In May, June Dogs’ mercury, wild garlic and bluebells dominate the woodland floor. In early spring this area is a great site for snowdrops.
Continue straight along the path until it reaches an avenue of trees predominately sycamore. This track eventually returns to the road where the walk began.
- Distance: 1-5 Miles
- Grade: Moderate
- Route Surface: Off Road
- Theme: Breathtaking Views
- Theme: County Parks & Nature Reserves
- Theme: Forest / Woodland Trail
- Theme: Nature
- In countryside
- Village Location
- Walk Distance - 2-3 miles - 3-5km