Veteran trees in the Tarell Valley

 © T. Bennett 2010

What is a veteran or ancient tree? These are trees that are very old in comparison with others of the same species. There's no strict definition of what age a tree must be to be considered ancient, but a 600-year-old oak tree or 300-year-old beech tree would qualify.

Yew trees can live for several thousand years and oak and sweet chestnut for 1,000 years or more. In comparison, a rowan tree at 200 years old is considered a veteran whereas an oak tree of the same age is just getting going.

In the Tarell Valley, some of our veteran trees are at the extreme ranges of their growing conditions. Here our veteran trees aren’t huge majestic specimens. They're small, twisted and weather-beaten. On the edge of the Brecon Beacons in an upland position, the trees that have thrived here for a long time are birch, rowan (mountain ash), hawthorn and crab apple.

Veteran trees provide an extremely valuable habitat

They host rare fungi, lichen and deadwood invertebrates, many of which are totally dependent on ancient trees for their survival.

Where to see our veteran trees

In the Tarell valley, a lot of our ancient trees are visible from the old coach road, in the dingles and fields running north from Storey Arms. From a distance, they're like any other tree. However up close, they're hollow, gnarled and full of life. In Carno Wood there are several ‘phoenix’ trees. These are trees that have fallen or been damaged. They've continued to grow against the odds, having a second life.

More information about our veteran trees

You can search for some of the veteran trees in the area on the Ancient Tree Hunt website.