Winning Tip: Lone Ash, North Yorkshire On the limestone sidewalk above Malham Cove stands a lone ash tree. The deeply etched grooves of the weathered limestone draw your gaze to this isolated figure. In summer, butterflies and skylarks fly around its limbs, while ferns and flowers sprout from sidewalk crevices where gnarled roots anchor. Less abundant seasons are identified by the color, presence or absence of ash leaves. The tree becomes a perpetual reminder of the time that passes in this grayish landscape. I find solace in the presence of this emblem of survival. Debbie Rolls Eight in one, Surrey Photo: Åsa Melander The King’s Oak on Ashtead Common is booming. Eight thick trunks protrude from the original one, creating a cauldron in the middle. Centuries ago, commoners were allowed to cut trees for wood. Learning that oak shoots are the best dessert one can offer the deer, the trunks were cut high enough that new shoots were prohibited. This created the basis for this magnificent tree. Watching it gives you a link to the story: Many veteran Common Oaks have grown here from the Magna Carta signing, a few miles northwest. It is impossible not to admire it.Åsa Melander Broomstick Beech, Surrey Photograph: Rob Hewer A favorite tree of many, and mine too, is Witch’s Broom Tree, a huge beech tree on Abinger Roughs, which is owned and managed by the National Trust. I worked for the National Trust and for a while was the director of Abinger Roughs. I remember talking to a local resident who had played in the branches of this tree as a child: she said at that time that it was full of honeycombs. This tree has a spirit – kids love it, mms and dads can climb its canopy and venture along its branches. I added a steel cradle to support one of the branches, which continues to grow horizontally for yards. The tree has a very unusual shape: it could be between 250 and 300 years old, and makes a magical tree for the picnic under Rob Hewer Sentinel of Sycamore Gap, Northumberland Photograph: Tim S The border has moved, but not me. A wall once stood here, to prevent the Scots from entering. I am a lone sentry, one of a kind. Empires have built walls, I decree that. Because at Sycamore Gap I am the tree. Tim S Yew with a view, Monmouthshire Photograph: Pat Bennett / Alamy My tree is next to the devil’s pulpit, a viewpoint over Tintern Abbey. It’s a yew growing around rock formations, which created the appearance of a magical fantasy novel – it looks like JRR Tolkien himself created it! It’s special to me because I was first ‘introduced’ to the tree while on a post-lockdown walk with a dear friend. I recently took my parents and boyfriend for a walk to visit it. We had a picnic below, after being apart for a while. Tips from Helen Boote Guardian Travel Readers Each week, we ask our readers for their travel recommendations. A selection of tips will be presented online and may appear in print. To enter the latest contest, visit the Where’s Woody? Home page. Cambridgeshire Photograph: Sharon Pinner A cracked willow tree on my regular running course is dotted with evidence of woodpecker activity. Near the River Rhee, along a footbridge between the villages of Haslingfield and Hauxton, near Cambridge, this year it has welcomed a new family of green woodpeckers. The tree is alive and well: the soft wood of the willow makes it ideal for chiselling. During the summer I would put my running on hiatus for part of spotting the peak. Green Woodpeckers are shy birds, but they reveal their presence with loud alarm calls, and I catch them looking at me from behind the trunk or branches.Sharon Pinner Silent Witness, Exeter Photograph: Cindy Towering above St Thomas Church, Exeter, and providing all-weather shade and shelter and home to seemingly endless squirrels that children hunt, a Lucombe oak dominates the Exeter skyline south of the Exe. Overlooking the county soil, this tree will have witnessed all Exeter rugby matches from 1871 before the move to Sandy Park and European glory as well as the isolated African-American troops stationed there in 1943 and the great flood of 1960. The Lucombe oak, a semi-evergreen cork oak / turkey oak hybrid, was first spotted and then cultivated in these areas, but we came to Kew. One of the originals was shot to make William Lucombe’s coffin, which he apparently kept under his bed until his death! Cindy Tombstone Warden, East Sussex Photograph: Jessica My favorite tree is a huge old yew tree in a sleepy graveyard at the foot of the South Downs in the village of Wilmington. According to the small sign at its base, he’s around 1,600 years old and definitely looks his age. It’s large and sprawling, with a shriveled, gnarled trunk, and is so old that some of the branches are supported by wooden poles. Visiting this tree always makes me feel very impressed and insignificant, especially when I look at all the faded gravestones and realize that the tree is older than all of them! Jessica Vegging, Suffolk Photograph: Emily To me it’s the broccoli tree – an oak tree in a field near Levington, Suffolk. I walked over to him during the lockdown as he stood alone, socially estranged from fellow human beings like me. I was cycling to this place, to sit on the hill, take a break and reflect on the world. I would watch deer graze around its trunk, see barn owls perch on its branches and watch the sun’s rays dance around its flower-shaped branches Emily Witching tree, Essex Photography: Michele Freind There are so many beautiful trees – I fall in love with them quite promiscuously – but there is one more wonderful than any other. It’s in Ambresbury Banks, near Theydon Wood in Epping Forest, east London, and when I first saw it my heart almost stopped. Not because it’s beautiful – it’s not really – but because it’s completely magical. Its twisted trunk has overwhelmed babies and strange animals who seemingly try to escape. The more you look at it, the more creatures you see. It must be the original witchcraft tree. Look, but don’t get too close! Michele Freind.
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