Veteran tree spotting in Arnside and Silverdale

Scotts pines overlooking wildflowers in meadows & the River Kent's estuarial zone at Arnside Knott, Cumbria

Here at the National Trust Silverdale office, just south of the Lake District and above Morecambe Bay - we love trees. We love them for their beauty, the homes they provide wildlife and the way they shape a hillside or frame a view.

We especially love trees that tell a story. Those that have stood for hundreds of years, limbs outstretched and leaves repeating an annual cycle of growing and falling. In the National Trust we call these trees our ‘Veteran Trees’. Their fat, squat trunks and interesting hollows are the kind you want to peep through.

These special trees are also home to rare wildlife. A 400 year old oak tree can support more insects and fungi and lichens then five 100 year old oak trees.

Dating a tree and finding its age is something most of us will have done over the years. Counting the rings inside a trunk and seeing the spaces between each ring getting narrower as the tree ages. In Dog Kennel Wood on the Sizergh estate is a Douglas Fir – not one of our ancient trees but a veteran tree none-the-less. At 60 metres tall, and with an impressive 232cm girth, it towers over every other tree, one with a real ‘wow’ factor.

It’s always nice to use a good tree as an excuse to stop for a rest, a picnic or to enjoy a view. A beautiful clump of ash and beech trees on the Sizergh fell, mere babies at 150 to 200 years old, offer amazing views over Morecambe Bay and towards Yorkshire.

Another veteran tree to head for if you walking at Arnside Knott is the knotted larch trees. Now dead, the two pairs of larches form a funny ‘h’ shape, possibly the two saplings were tied together by a sailor and his bride on their honeymoon in around 1862.

So with the approach of Autumn, wrap up and take yourself for a walk to look at some of our veterans – a perfect time to see them at their best and see what it is that you love about them.