18th February 2016
Major Hayman Rooke, something of an expert in describing and sketching ‘remarkable oaks’ in the park at Welbeck and the wider Sherwood area, set the scene nicely at the end of the 18th Century: ‘Were we even now to enter a grove of stately oaks, seven or eight hundred years old, whose spreading branches form a solemn and gloomy umbrage, I think we could not behold them without some degree of veneration.’
About a mile from the iconic oak that now bears Major Rooke’s name, and within the former Royal Forest of Sherwood, can be found the greatest density of veteran oaks in Europe. Not surprisingly, it is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Beyond, there is a scattering of solitary veterans, hiding in plain sight within pine plantations and 19th Century beech and oak woods. Each of them has a story to tell but one in particular caught my attention, when walking through the woods this Winter.