Meadow Park’s Ancient Oak

Despite dark clouds and heavy rain on the 17th of August 2020, I continue my quest of verifying more ancient trees.

Through the Woodland Trust’s ATI (Ancient Tree Inventory) website, I had found my next tree. It was situated in Bideford, down a narrow, well-trodden footpath beginning at the end of a small street called Meadow Park.

I had my good friend Suzy and her daughter Summer with me, and as we walked and talked I couldn’t help but notice the lack of light along the narrow wooded path; even with their deceivingly alluring pink flowers, Rhododendron ponticum flanked the sides and cut out the ability to see clearly. I had a flashback to last winter when I was helping out with Rhododendron treatment work on Exmoor, an experience scrambling under closed canopy in the darkness caused by these woody plants, which made me realise how invasive and relentless they can get, once introduced into a landscape.

As we emerged onto a clearing, I was taken aback by the sight in front of me. This intersection was where four footpaths met, and close to the middle of it was a beautiful veteran specimen of an oak.

Taking girth measurements and recording features of the trees, I was happy to be questioned by my curious friend Suzy about trees and veteran tree characteristics. We measured a girth of 6.75 metres at a height of 1.3 metres from the ground. Though technically ancient (due to an age estimation), this tree shows more veteran features: “All oak are classed as ancient from 400 years onwards, although many will have ancient characteristics from around 300 years. Typically a veteran oak is 150-300 years of age and a notable oak is 150-200 years old.” – Ancient Tree Inventory

This tall and very alive pedunculate oak – English Oak or Common Oak (Quercus robur) – had a flourishing crown of leaves, and despite having a hollow close to the base of the tree, it was a solid giant that has stood the test of time.

As local residents walked past, each had their own comments about the tree: some were curious as to how old the tree was and others gave me information about a wasp nest occupying the hollow. How I love the unassuming way this pedunculate oak stands there while people carry on with their daily routines, walking their dog and going to school, perhaps pausing for a moment to look at it while passing through. I was glad that on this day I contributed to creating conversation involving this gentle giant.

Thanks to Vikki Nicholson who flagged up this tree.

For my detailed verification, please search for Grid Reference SS4360325931 and the Tree ID is 207813. I hope you get to visit this tree soon.

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