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Ancient tree walks

A view inside the ancient woodland at Dinefwr in late autumn, when the trees have lost their leaves. The woodland floor is covered with grass and foliage turned brown with the season.
The ancient woodland at Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

If ancient trees could talk, they would have some tales to tell. Walk among their tall and gnarled trunks, which are not only steeped in history but also invaluable to wildlife. Here are our favourite places to see these ‘cathedrals of the natural world’.

Croft Castle, Herefordshire
You'll feel like you’ve stepped back into a Tudor landscape when you see Croft Castle's gnarly ancient trees. Walk across the parkland and look out for the Quarry Oak, one of the few thousand-year-old trees in our care. There's also the avenue of twisted sweet chestnut trees. It's believed that the trees were grown from nuts salvaged from a shipwrecked Spanish Armada boat 400 years ago.Walk among Croft Castle's trees
Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire
Discover some of the oldest trees in Britain at Dinefwr. There are nearly 300 ancient trees here, and you find half of them in the medieval deer park. The parkland is a designated National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).Walk among Dinefwr's trees
Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, Yorkshire
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden is full of centuries-old trees. One of the best is the huge wild cherry, which has unfortunately shed much of its crown. Look out for oaks with windows cut into their hollow trunks or full of cable bracing from an early attempt at tree surgery.Walk among Fountain Abbey's trees
A volunteer guide talking to an adult and their two children in the parkland at Croft Castle. They're surrounded by large, gnarled ancient trees covered with autumnal yellow leaves and the guide seems to be encouraging the visitors to look closely at the fallen leaves in their hands.
A volunteer guide and visitors in the parkland at Croft Castle, Herefordshire | © National Trust Images/John Millar
Killerton, Devon
There are plenty of ancient oaks and sweet chestnuts in the park at Killerton, but also some interesting lesser-known species. One is the ancient hawthorn that has a birch tree growing out of its decayed, hollow trunk.Walk among Killerton's trees
Petworth, West Sussex
Petworth has many characterful sweet chestnut trees – some of which show clear signs of having been struck by lightning. There are also ancient lime trees in the park, which have had extensive decay to their trunks. They're now hollow shells, with only strands of the original trunks remaining. The trees may still go on to live for several hundred more years in this fragile state.Walk among Petworth's trees
Quarry Bank, Cheshire
Beyond Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire lies a 400-acre estate full of ancient woodland. Follow the Giant's Castle Walk to discover the twists and turns of the River Bollin, along with some of Styal's medieval buildings. The semi-natural woodland is home to a variety of native species and more than 700 varieties of fungi.Walk among Quarry Bank's trees
A group of hikers exploring a hilly landscape on a sunny winters day.

Find a walk

Discover some of the best places for walks, including ancient woodland, stretches of coast and green parkland.

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This National Walking Month, explore some of the finest landscapes in our care on coastal paths, accessible trails, woodland walks and everything in between. Find the best places to walk near you.