Join volunteer Mary for a virtual tour of notable trees at Scotney Castle

Mary , Estate Volunteer Mary Estate Volunteer

Join Mary, a volunteer estate guide at Scotney Castle,as she takes you to look at some of the notable trees on the estate and shares some of the work she does as part of the National Trust's Ancient and Notable Tree Database. Prepare to transport yourself to the great outdoors in Kent and savour the atmosphere this spring.

I am usually an estate guide taking visitors along our super walks on the Scotney Estate, more usually along our Blue, Red and Woodland routes. However, since last autumn I have also been helping to document some of the lovely trees on the estate for the National Trust’s Ancient & Notable Tree Database.

The woodland walk at Scotney Castle, Kent
The woodland walk at Scotney Castle, Kent
The woodland walk at Scotney Castle, Kent

Where to start recording our trees when we have so many?


I’m initially doing interesting ones around our regular routes, ones we think are of note and interest so we can include our theories & tales about them as part of our guided walks.

Volunteers carrying out a survey on a tree on the estate at Scotney Castle
Scotney Castle  tree survey volunteers
Volunteers carrying out a survey on a tree on the estate at Scotney Castle

We're using an app, which pinpoints the exact tree’s position and puts the tree onto the map for us. We then record various information and include some photos for reference. We record its girth (generally measuring with a tape measure about 1.3 metres from the ground), broadly record the surrounding terrain and its condition. We use a simple ready reckoner to give us the broad age range – but that’s all very subjective!


Unsurprisingly, being in the Weald, we are recording lots of oaks and of different varieties. So far we have recorded English (Quercus Robur), Turkey (Quercus Cerris), Evergreen (Quercus Ilex), Cristata otherwise known as the Funky Oak because of the way its leaves seem to be twisted, curled and congested (Quercus Robur Cristata) and Lucombe (Quercus Hispanica Lucombeana) Oaks.

" I love being out on the estate at all times of the year, there’s always something to see- buds breaking, colours changing, buzzards whirling, cattle grazing and invariably I can hear green woodpeckers yaffling."

The largest English Oak (Quercus Robur) we’ve measured to date is just off the blue route near the Sweetbourne alongside the old (pre 1833) entrance to the Old Castle - its girth is 5.82m and could be about 425 years old. Nearby, on the other side of the blue route is one of my favourite trees on the estate a lovely evergreen oak (or Quercus Ilex).

The evergreen oak tree on the estate at Scotney Castle
Scotney Castle evergreen oak tree
The evergreen oak tree on the estate at Scotney Castle

It’s there through rain and shine and provides shade for the cattle and sheep and despite its very tough leaves some obviously like to eat them. Although it is an evergreen, it is continually dropping its leathery leaves and has a lovely flush of fresh green/pink growth at the end of April or early May.

What strikes me is what you don’t see unless you go right up to the tree and check it out. The tree always has lots of inhabitants, including birds, lichen, algae, fungus, bats and insects.

Look out for the galls on the oak trees on the estate at Scotney Castle
Scotney Castle gall on oak tree
Look out for the galls on the oak trees on the estate at Scotney Castle

What's also interesting to spot, are the galls (knopper gall, oak apple gall & cherry gall) which contain gall wasps that thrive on our English Oaks, sometimes damaging, but all part of the ecosystem of our wonderful world.

If you've enjoyed this virtual tour with Mary, why not join Austin, another volunteer estate guide, on his favourite virtual walk around the estate this spring. We look forward to welcoming you back to Scotney Castle very soon.