To provide you with the best experience, cookies are used on this site. Find out more here.

Allow cookies

For the latest information and advice about Coronavirus – please Click Here

Hardwick Dene

Type:Nature Reserve

Cornforth Cl, Stockton-on-Tees, Tees Valley, TS19 8FG
View from Hardwick Dene

Book Tickets Online


Hardwick Dene is a secret valley, a piece of quiet countryside that has been saved from development. Old meadows, hedgerows, woodland and two streams form an oasis for wildlife where, despite its proximity, urban Stockton is quickly forgotten.

Much of the Dene is scrubland, mainly hawthorn with varying amounts of blackthorn, dog rose and gorse. In the spring this provides safe nesting sites for a variety of birds, whilst in the autumn and winter, the abundance of berries and rosehips are fed upon by large flocks of blackbirds, redwing, and fieldfare.

Amongst the scrub are areas of grassland, which become quite damp towards the valley bottom. Wildflowers such as water mint and cuckoo flower grow here, and in turn, these provide caterpillar food plants and nectar sources for a variety of butterflies. In the spring, the orange-tip is abundant, particularly in the damper areas, as it searches for cuckoo flower on which to lay its eggs.

The Dene is an important site for the white-letter hairstreak butterfly, which gets its name from a white line in the shape of the letter “w” on the underside of the hind wing. The caterpillars of this species feed upon elm trees, particularly those growing in hedgerows or at the woodland edge.

This dependence on elm meant that the butterfly disappeared from many sites where it was once common, as Dutch elm disease killed over 10 million trees in the 70’s and 80’s. The butterfly can be found from late June to early August, and is best seen with binoculars, as it basks on a leaf near the tree-top, or makes a short spiralling flight out from the tree and back again.

Another special feature of this nature reserve is a wildflower meadow south of Hardwick beck. Meadows such as this were once a common sight in the countryside, but many have been lost to housing, road building or agricultural improvements. This particular meadow has been identified as a fine example of its type, with over 90 plant species growing here, including common spotted orchid, devil’s-bit scabious, betony, and ragged robin. This abundance of grasses and flowers also means that butterflies are numerous here, with 22 different species being recorded in the meadow alone.

Separated from the Dene by Darlington Back Lane is Elm Tree Wood, a small triangular piece of mature, mixed-deciduous woodland. As befits its name, the wood contains a number of elm trees, along with oak, ash, alder, sycamore and cherry, with an understorey of hawthorn and holly. In the spring, the woodland floor is coloured yellow by the flowers of lesser celandine, and occasional clumps of wild garlic.


Map & Directions

Road Directions

The reserve can be accessed at various points. By car use postcode - TS19 8QA - Cornforth Close, Stockton. Or follow directions for the University Hospital of North Tees, go past the hospital on your left - Hardwick Rd, into High Newham Rd – turn left into Tithe Barn Rd and left into Cornforth Close – the reserve is at the end of Cornforth Close (NZ419206). It can also be accessed at Darlington Lane (NZ422203) and (NZ 41677 20517)

What's Nearby

  1. Newham Grange Park

    Set in a rolling landscape, Newham Grange Park offers something for everyone, with…

    0.55 miles away
  2. Ropner Park

    Fully restored to its Victorian splendour, Ropner Park is a real delight at any time of…

    1.74 miles away
  3. Gravel Hole

    Gravel Hole is particularly attractive in spring and early summer when blooms of common…

    2.16 miles away
  1. The Teesside Princess

    One of the most relaxing ways to take in the scenic views along the River Tees. For a…

    2.26 miles away
  2. Billingham Beck Valley Country Park

    With its wildflower meadows, reedbeds, ponds, marsh and woodland, Billingham Beck Valley…

    2.48 miles away
  3. Wynyard Woodland Park

    Originally a working railway the park extends over three miles from the edge of Thorpe…

    2.52 miles away
  4. Air Trail

    Situated on a small peninsula dividing the river, Air Trail Tees Barrage opened its gates…

    2.67 miles away
  5. Portrack Marsh

    Portrack Marsh is a haven for wildlife in the heart of Teesside. The wetland nature…

    2.98 miles away
  6. Maze Park

    Maze Park is a green oasis right at the centre of the Teesside. Visitors can climb one of…

    3.03 miles away
  7. Butterfly World

    An indoor tropical garden populated by exotic free-flying butterflies and complemented by…

    3.04 miles away
  8. Preston Park Museum & Grounds

    Discover the Hall and its treasures. Experience what life was like in 1895 as you take a…

    3.11 miles away
  9. Tees Heritage Park

    The Tees Heritage Park covers the beautiful stretch of countryside along the banks of the…

    3.11 miles away
  10. The Gardens at Wynyard Hall

    The Gardens at Wynyard Hall are fast becoming one the North’s leading visitor attractions…

    3.18 miles away
  11. Go Climb

    Forget about your traditional indoor climbing centre located within Billingham…

    3.31 miles away
  12. Wynyard Planetarium & Observatory

    Wynyard Planetarium and Observatory is an educational and entertainment resource for…

    4.24 miles away
  13. Dorman Museum

    With 8 galleries and 3 exhibition spaces, there's something for everyone and plenty of…

    4.57 miles away
Previous Next