Posted 7th Sep 2017 by Peter Byrne
Visit Cumbria this September and October to track down 'Tales of the Long-Ago Tree' adventures
Born out of stories of the past, which are unlocked by the trees which grace the gardens of some of Cumbria's Living Heritage members
The heritage you can explore through these trees is amazing. For instance, the tale of the Grecian Silver Fir, at Dalemain near Penrith, relates to the biggest tree of its species within the British Isles and being a gift from Joseph Banks - a plant collector who sailed on the Endeavour with Captain Cook.
There is also the tale of the magnificent Sweet Chestnut at Muncaster Castle, which is entwined with that of 16th century Thomas Skelton, the last Fool of Muncaster. It's known as 'Tom Fool's Tree', as Tom would sit under it and determine the fate of those who asked for directions. If he liked them, they would be sent on a safe route - if he did not, he sent them to their death on the local quicksands.
Trees at Kirklinton Hall and Gardens hold enchanting models of flower faeries, but allow for the unravelling of the story of faerie princess, Maelgwyn the Fair, whose face is carved into the cliff face. Scots Pines, at Mirehouse near Keswick, date back to the time of Alfred, while Lord Tennyson was a frequent visitor who even honeymooned at the idyllic heritage home.
Meanwhile, the 400-year-old Holker Great Lime is magical, venerable and animate, its owner Lady Cavendish said, and it was one of the Tree Council's '50 Great British Trees' in Her Majesty the Queen's Golden Jubilee Year.
If you head to the 17th century topiary garden at Levens Hall and Gardens, you can discover the Umbrella Tree, which has been shortlisted as the Woodland Trust's 'Tree of the Year' 2016. Dating back to the 1690s, this shares the topiary garden with some truly amazing Yews, which are especially shaped into designs which include chess pieces, a King and Queen, a judge's wig and a jug of Morocco Ale.
Whether you're interested in the Birch, Ash and Sycamore which were used in the Victorian Stott Park Bobbin Mill, to create bobbins for the Lancashire cotton mills, the Handkerchief, Tulip and Californian Redwood trees at the volunteer-run Holehird Gardens overlooking Windermere, or the indoor tropical African rainforest at The Run Story in Whitehaven tells the story of the sugar, spice, rum and slave trades, so Cumbria's Living Heritage's website should be your launchpad.
You can find the time for as many tree tales as possible, and can perhaps enjoy treetop and zip wire adventures at Brockhole, the Lake District National Park Visitor Centre, and then leave a few more hours for the discovery of the special Beech tree on the Bogle Crag trail at Grizedale Forest, which carries the carving of a helmet, believed to be the work of a German Prisoner of War, who was held at the Grizedale Hall POW camp for elite German Officers during World War Two.