Syl­van sculp­ture

A mile or two from the bus­tle of Bow­ness-on-Win­der­mere in the Lake Dis­trict Na­tional Park stands a lonely oak, at its most en­chant­ing af­ter a night of snow­fall, says Daniel Gra­ham

Countryfile Magazine - - Contents -

Ken­nel Wood, Cum­bria

Win­ter turns the sound down on every­thing; the kiss­ing gate’s clunk, twigs be­neath boots, a walker’s yarn, all ab­sorbed and swal­lowed by damp leaves and soft snow. Even the call of a fer­vent black­bird drops its echo.

Stand be­neath the aged limbs of an oak af­ter heavy snow­fall and this sti­fling of noise, this still­ness, is at its most patent. The tree’s hefty, snow-bear­ing branches are un­moved even by the chill gusts of Jan­uary. But then a sud­den crack: a branch gives way and an avalanche rushes to the ground, a cloud of fine pow­der drift­ing down in its wake. One such tree can be found in the Lakes, rooted to the side of a farmer’s field be­side a small copse known as Ken­nel Wood. Fuel up on cof­fee and cake in the town of Bow­ness-on-Win­der­mere then make for the hills in search of this won­der­ful win­ter spec­ta­cle.

1 COUN­TRY LANES

Turn right out of Braith­waite Fold Car Park up Glebe Road, bear­ing right once more on to the A592. Af­ter about 100m, turn left and fol­low the twist­ing road­way up­hill, stay­ing right on Smithy Lane.

2 WILDFOWL COT­TAGE

Af­ter 500m, turn left on to the A5074, then, shortly af­ter, go right, con­tin­u­ing up­hill for a fur­ther 500m to cross straight over an­other road into a lane. The lane passes sev­eral large homes, in­clud­ing Windy Hall and its reed-flanked pond, home to wa­ter­fowl. Pass the pond on your left and go through a kiss­ing gate. Climb to the top of a half-wooded hill be­fore de­scend­ing to Lin­deth Farm. Pick your way through the yard on the main track, leav­ing to the south-west on a foot­path through a gap in a wall, into a field. On your right sits a small body of wa­ter, frozen in the colder months. And at the top of the hill, is your oak.

3 BE­NEATH THE TREE

Take a mo­ment to en­joy this sur­vivor – its trunk em­bossed with knots and burrs, its canopy laden with snow – then re­turn the way you came to the warmth of Bow­ness.

In win­ter, trees slow their en­ergy con­sump­tion and growth – a dor­mancy sim­i­lar to that of hi­ber­nat­ing an­i­mals

Sec­tion ed­i­tor DanielGra­ham was rooted to the spot at the sight of this win­ter tree.

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