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29th March 2017

First field event for ATF Wessex

David Blake

Kingston Lacy park

David Blake, who leads the new ATF Wessex group, joined local National Trust staff at the end of February for the group’s first field meeting, to Kingston Lacy and Holt Forest in Dorset

Kingston Lacy is one of the National Trust’s finest properties in the Wessex region and the regional and property staff had done us proud. After a brief welcome from myself we settled in the Mess Room to hear from Simon Ford (Wildlife and Countryside Consultancy Manager for the National Trust) about how ancient and veteran trees are managed within the Trust’s estate.

Integrating the specialist management of such important heritage assets (often, some of the trees around the great houses in the Trust’s portfolio are much older than the houses themselves) provides Simon and his colleagues with some real challenges. Many of these are around communicating the importance of the trees to colleagues and being able to meet the modern requirements for access, modern agricultural activity and public events in landscapes that were not designed with any of those things in mind.

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11th January 2017

ATF East Anglia visits Melford Hall

Richard Parmee

Meilford Hall

Richard Parmee joined the ATF East Anglia group in December for their winter field visit to Melford Hall in Suffolk

On a somewhat damp and grey day, 40 people made their way to Melford Hall, for the chance to see some of the estate’s ancient trees.  The estate’s roots can be traced back to the 13th century, though the current estate is now much smaller than before.  Led by Robert Adams, the volunteer garden manager for the National Trust, the group were able to view many trees not normally accessible to the public, including one of impressive girth.

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17th November 2016

ATF autumn visit to Wimpole

Simon Damant

Wimpole

The Ancient Tree Forum held its October field meeting at the Wimpole estate in Cambridgeshire, now owned by the National Trust. Originally a small deer park (the first record is from 1302) surrounded by open fields, the Wimpole parkland has changed many times throughout its history.

Over the years, different owners employed different landscape designers and gardeners, who each left their mark on the landscape. One of the most influential was Capability Brown. The site is rich in veteran trees, and the surrounding farmland includes ancient boundary oak pollards. Another interesting aspect of the site is its saproxylic invertebrate fauna which is of exceptional richness, and includes European Red List species.

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15th November 2016

ATF Cumbria visit to Lowther Park

By Luke Steer

Charles Bennet of the ATF Cumbria group, writes about the group’s second field trip, which was  led by Ian Jack, head forester at the Lowther Estate, and the group’s founding member.

On the 24 September 2016 the Cumbria Branch of the Ancient Tree Forum met at Lowther Castle for a tour of Lowther Park in Cumbria, an old deer forest. The visit followed on from the group’s first field event, to the wood pastures of Geltsdale in June 2016, and looked at how the wood pastures on this part of the Lowther Estate have evolved into parkland.

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28th July 2016

ATF Scotland in the Highlands

ATF Scotland group at Brahan

Adam Riedi, co-ordinator of Ancient Tree Forum Scotland, writes about the group’s visit in July to the Brahan Estate in the Scottish Highlands

The Brahan estate lies to the north of River Conon, around 25 miles north from Inverness.

Planting records show tree planting dating from the 17th century. At a time where east Highland society was still based upon the tribal loyalties of the clan system and the journey form Edinburgh was a serious undertaking, the estate of the Seaforths were beginning wide scale afforestation and the design of a planned landscape. Trees from the 1680’s can still be seen today, including the very fine Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) growing on the banks of the Conon.

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18th July 2016

First meeting of ATF Cumbria takes place in Geltsdale

by Ian Jack

Ian Jack, co-ordinator of the new Ancient Tree Forum Cumbria group, joined the members for their first field event this June.

The Cumbria chapter of the ATF had its inaugural meeting on a beautiful spring day in June at the magnificent pasture woodlands of Geltsdale in the foothills of the Northern Cumbria Pennines. The day was ably lead by Iris Glimmerveen who has been associated with these woodlands for the last  nineteen years.

The pasture woodlands at Geltsdale are in a truly wonderful setting and Iris is clearly at one with all that these woodlands represent and laid on a day which will be well remembered by all who participated.

The theme of the day was ‘trees within trees’ and Iris began by explaining how one of the amazing features of Geltsdale is how Rowan trees often seed themselves into niches in Alders and these two trees then age together. The Rowan does not live off the Alder but with it, both trees occupying the same space. The Rowan puts down aerial roots which helps in time to give the whole structure a fantastical appearance. Eventually the Alder succumbs to age and withers leaving the Rowan to act out a solitary role as it too becomes ancient.

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5th May 2016

ATF East Anglia group visit to Ickworth

Reg Harris

ATF visit to Ickworth April 2016

Sally Clark joined the ATF East Anglia group in April for their field visit, led by Ted Green, to see the tea party oak and other ancient and veteran trees at Ickworth in Suffolk.

‘The park is fine. The ground nobly broke into hill and dale, it is piled round it a deep rich soil, there are fine hanging woods and lawn.’  Duchess of Northumberland c. 1770

Ickworth was the family home of the Hervey family for some 500 years, but since 1956 it has been in the care of the National Trust, and it was thanks to Martin, Dee and Sean that the ATF was able gain an insight into how the trust are managing this vast and varied site.

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28th October 2015

ATF field visit to the Lake District

The Ancient Tree Forum’s Autumn visit to the Lake District in early October centred on Borrowdale and Watendlath. Maurice Pankhurst, National Trust Woodland Ranger, and one of the leading ancient pollard managers in the UK, led the tour. By Hannah Solloway.

by Hannah Solloway

Oak pollard in Borrowdale

The day began by a centuries-old lapsed oak pollard near the National Trust’s Bowe Barn, now partially hidden under some Douglas Fir, and only discovered in recent years. Maurice explained that with its history of mining and intensive management, there was a high demand for wood in Borrowdale, which remains one of the most treed valleys in the Lake District. read more

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27th October 2015

Jon Ryan attends the first meeting of ATF East Anglia in Captain’s Wood

By Reg Harris

Rodney West of Stanny Field Centre, with a veteran silver birch

On an autumnal day in October the inaugural meeting of the East Anglian branch of the ATF took place at Captain’s Wood, near Sudbourne in Suffolk. The event was incredibly popular, with 54 people giving up their Saturday to spend time looking at and learning about old trees.

Captain’s Wood has a recorded treed history dating back over 1000 years and is a remnant of a medieval wood pasture that once covered many hundreds of acres. It has stunning ancient oak pollards, set amongst birch and lapsed hazel coppice, situated between the famous Staverton Thicks and the Suffolk coast. read more

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