Hardwick Dene and Elm Tree Woods Local Nature Reserves

Hardwick Dene & Elm Tree Woods are situated in the suburban area of Stockton-on-Tees. Hardwick Dene is an area of what was once pasture land and orchards that has now been surrounded by the urban expansion of Stockton-on-Tees. Old meadows, hedgerows, woodland and two streams form an oasis for wildlife.

Much of the Dene is now 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. The Dene is an important site in the summer months for the white-letter Hairstreak butterfly and the Orange Tip.

Another special feature of this nature reserve is a wildflower meadow south of Hardwick Beck, 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, 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. In the spring Lesser Celandine, and Wild Garlic can be found; the woods also support a variety of wildlife including Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Goldcrest.

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)

Blackcap by Amy Lewis

OS Grid Refs NZ419205 & NZ423202 respectively

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