Discover the trees of the Mile Walk
As summer ends and the autumn is in sight find out about some of the interesting trees in the historic Pleasure Grounds around the Mile Walk at Attingham Park. The greens of the leaf canopies in September begin to change to autumnal reds, ambers, and golds during October, as they do you’ll notice something new on this Tree Trail each time you do the walk. The information in this trail is taken from ‘The Mile Walk at Attingham Park: Interesting trees and shrubs’ by Dr Andy Gordon.
Visitor Reception, grid ref: SJ5501109896
Where the path forks to the front of the portico steps bear left and continue around the east side of the Mansion.
The first of the trees to look out for is the English Oak (Quercus robur). Likely to have been planted by Humphry Repton about 240 years ago! This oak tree has been pollarded as it was posing a risk to the younger Cedars of Lebanon growing in this grove. Cutting back the branches gives the tree the chance to grow in a more compact way, continuing to provide a habitat for birds, wildlife and insects. The path divides into two just after this tree, bear right walking alongside the river.
This Stone Pine (Pinus pinea) is native to the Mediterranean, and was planted in the late 1970s as a replacement tree to one that had been planted by Teresa, Lady Berwick. This tree is not often found in gardens in the UK, but you may recognise it as young Stone Pines can often be found as potted Christmas trees as their juvenile foliage looks very similar to small Christmas trees. You’ll find benches dotted around the Mile Walk to take a moment and pause at. Views along this stretch of the Mile Walk look across the River Tern to the Deer Park.
Contorted Hazelnut (Corylus avellane cv. contorta). This small group of the curiously twisted variety of hazel contrasts with the many ordinary hazel coppices found around the Mile Walk.
Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata). Originating from eastern and central USA this Magnolia tree has wide leaves and that it small flowers that appears in June. These trees were planted here in 1967. The name Cucumber Tree refers to the unripe fruit, which is green and often shaped like a small cucumber.
As you continue along the path you’ll see a solitary Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) behind a fence, before the path curves to the left. From Lebanon, Syria and South East Turkey, this tree has been planted widely in the UK since 1650. Attingham’s Cedars (the one here and the plantation to the east of the Mansion) were planted in about 1800 when Humphry Repton was landscaping the estate. Take the left turning after the Cedar of Lebanon to continue around the Mile Walk.
Shortly after turning left to curve around the top of the Mile Walk look out for the Cut-Leaf Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Asplenifolia’) on the right hand side of the path. It’s also known as the Fern-leaf Beech due to the shape of its leaves, and with its leafy canopy this deciduous tree is one to keep an eye on in autumn as the leaves turn to orange and yellow.
Passing a bench on the right, you’ll walk into a clearing with Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) planted in a circular shape, with the path cutting through the middle. Originating from the mid-west USA, this tree was introduced to the UK in about 1700 but is usually found only in the south and east of England. This circle of trees was planted in memory of the land agent to the 8th Lord and Lady Berwick. Continue walking, heading straight ahead when a path joins this one from the right hand side.
Grand Fir (Abies grandis). From this point of the walk for the next 350 yards the large straight conifer trees are all Grand Fir which grows from British Columbia to north California. It was introduced into the UK in 1830 and is one of the fastest growing conifers in the UK. In February 2017 six of these very tall trees were blown over in strong winds. You may still be able to see the stumps of these close to the path to the Field of Play. Continue along the path, past the Orchard and Bothy. If you'd like to stop off at the Walled Garden, follow the one way route to do so, when you leave the garden you will return to this path in front of the Bothy.
As you walk around the paddock fence look out for the Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa). Probably introduced to the UK by the Romans, its long yellow flowers appear in July but the tree only produces edible nuts in the UK when the weather is warm in August. The spiral bark is typical, but the spiral grain of the wood makes it unsuitable for most uses other than fencing and firewood. Continue along the path.
The last tree on the walk is the False Acacia or Locust Tree (Robinia pseudoacacia) on the right hand side of the path. Native to Eastern North America it was introduced to the UK in about 1636 and is widely planted in UK gardens often in its yellow (cv Frisia) form. Continue along the path until your reach the exit route. Turn right to exit, to continue your visit follow the signage to loop back round via the shop or visitor reception building, or continue to the car park.
Visitor Reception, grid ref: SJ5501109896
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