The sun was blazing the day we walked to the Kentmere Rowan with some children from Staveley school in June – what you might call a perfect summer’s day. The value of trees as shade-givers soon became very obvious to all of us.

Under the shade of an ash
Under the shade of an ash

Along the way the children were noticing a lot of the small details around them, from the different sounds of becks to the type of sheep grazing the fields, flowers in the meadows, bugs, butterflies, mosses and lichen.

They worked in small groups and collected their observations, noting which trees we passed, identifying them using the ‘nature detectives’ sheets produced by the Woodland Trust (download the Leaf ID sheets here). At the rowan we stopped for lunch and a lengthier look at the small but resilient tree growing out of a huge rock that stands in a circle of boulders. Harriet read her poem ‘Flying Rowan’ and some children sketched while others wrote poems of their own, some inspired by the myth of the god Thor once clinging to a rowan tree for protection – a story recorded in the text Skáldskaparmál that recounts poems and stories passed down, mostly by word of mouth, from Viking times.

At the Kentmere Rowan
At the Kentmere Rowan

We considered different ways of measuring time, from the lifespan of a child to the life of a tree, and the long, long life of the landscape. Within site of the Kentmere Rowan the remains of a Bronze Age Settlement set the children thinking what life might have been like then.

Back in the classroom a very busy day with paint, glue, scissors and poetry composition led to the creation of a video – the children sharing their story of their day walking to and sitting with the Kentmere Rowan.  The video is a moving animated journey narrated by all the children, reading lines from the poem they created. Click on the image to see what children created with our help

Staveley school video link


‘We Couldn’t Live Without Trees’

A collaborative poem written by a group of young poets, Staveley School, June 6th 2016.

Rowan tree, Rowan tree
Flown into stone
Rowan tree, Rowan tree
The future’s in your pomes.

If I were this rowan tree
I’d spread my leaves so I could see
Steep hills rising all around
in sun, rain, snow and cloud,
Rough Fell sheep lying down to sleep
Woolly bundles, flocks on rocks.

I’d stand proud and I would hear
As if my leaves were many ears:
Birds tweeting, lambs mearing,
Wind howling, river trickling,
Pitter-patter rain, and the buzz-buzzing
Bees, in and out of buttercups.

My roots settles into stone
I’d smell sheep poo, flowers, too,
Wet grass, fresh air, damp wood after rain.
I’d feel rocks and earth, I’d move in wind
my branches swaying. But I’m old, I’m grumpy,
Always rooted here – I’d really like to walk!

I would wonder:
What are the names of the trees surrounding me?
What would it be like to be human?
What would it be like to lose my leaves?
What would it be like to be free?

If I were this rowan tree I would give
Food and shade and home, to spiders, woodlice, birds.
I’d give oxygen, kindness and memories,
Beauty, colours, love, and millions of seeds.

Rowan tree, Rowan tree
Flown into stone
Rowan tree, Rowan tree
The future’s in your pomes.

Working on the poem in school
Working on the poem in school