Old Long Limbs

How much ancient woodland is there in your area? That is, woodland which has existed continuously since at least 1600? If you're from somewhere like Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Berkshire or Buckinghamshire, you're in luck. These counties (and a few others) still have numerous areas of fairly substantial woodland that meets the definition of ancient. But Yorkshire? Oh dear...

In North Yorkshire there are two areas of at least 25 acres; in South Yorkshire the total is three; but for West Yorkshire and East Yorkshire (where I live), just one apiece. 

Fortunately, the one in East Yorkshire is just a few miles away. Burton Bushes, on the fringe of Beverley Westwood, contains over forty veteran trees, and despite being a popular spot for walkers, den-makers and mudlarks (right now, it's more or less a swamp), it still retains an air of magic and mystery. There are clear paths through the wood, but step off these and very quickly you're into a tangle of bramble, nettle, deadfall and holly. Tread carefully, or it may swallow you up.

I've been photographing in Burton Bushes quite a bit recently, and Old Long Limbs is one of the characters I've met along the way. Not yet recoded as a veteran, this beech tree nonetheless oozes character, especially in the mist of early morning. I like to ponder what trees like this have seen over the years, and to think that what for us may seem like a fast-moving and uncertain age, is for trees like this just a blink in time.

You can find out more about your own ancient woodland and trees on the Woodland Trust's ancient tree pages. Take a look and then explore.

Camera settings: Nikon D850, Nikon 24-70mm lens at 31mm; 0.4 seconds at f/8, ISO 320  


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