To Infinity and Beyond at Hylton Dene

We recently discovered how a simple walk through Hylton Dene leads us in the footsteps of Charles Darwin. 

We often think of Darwin in terms of his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle, his ground-breaking role in Victorian scientific circles, or his family home in Kent.  

But it’s important to remember Darwin’s Origin of Species highlights the importance of everyone travelling on their own scientific journey, and Hylton Dene offers a wonderful opportunity to step into a scientific adventure.

Of course, the Dene does have unique flora and geology which have made it a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and it always helps to explore with dressing up (as a party of Year 1 students from Northern Saints C of E Primary discovered in June), but it’s the act of investigation and observation that really leads you in the footsteps of Darwin.


Use of dress-up as scientific engagement with school children

Darwin encouraged everyone to:

‘[C]ontemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.’ (From Conclusion to The Origin of Species, 1859)

Hylton Dene has many, many entangled banks, and a beautiful 200 acres of elaborately constructed forms, all of which can spark a fascination with the complex world evolving around us every minute of every day.


Coenagrion puella in Hylton Dene, Hylton Castle Project, Sunderland.

Azure Damselfly in Hylton Dene

And the best thing about this is that the adventure doesn’t end at Hylton Dene: it’s an adventure that people can take with them to whatever infinite possibilities they discover.


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