Few trees gain great height in the windblown fells of the Lake District but this Scots Pine has reared up and defied the weather to become a giant among its peers.
At an altitude of around 460 metres it stands proud on a steep boulder-strewn slope, its canopy more than forty feet above its roots. It commands a view over Ullswater, to the rises of Hallin Fell and Place Fell on the opposite shore of the lake, and the folded land around Kirkstone Pass to the southeast. It is rooted in a landscape that has been farmed for hundreds of years – this patch of hill is grazed by flocks from Glencoyne Farm – and it looks over the spot where two hundred years ago, Wordsworth professed to have been wandering lonely as a cloud and woodlands were planted by the owners of Greystoke Castle. As Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in her journal, in 1802:
” When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffoldils close to the water side … as we went along there were more & yet more & at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore … some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed & reeled & danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them …”
This pine sits beside a track that ascends through alders and beeches grouped together, interspersed with hazels and hawthorns, each finding their place and settling in where it best suits them on the sloping ground. Scots Pines aren’t typically found on their own – they much prefer to grow in groups – so it’s particularly unusual to find this isolated tree. Walk a little further along the path, however, through a strand of young larches, and you will see smaller pines on the slopes below, which have taken broader shapes, hunkered down among the rocks.
Our First Meeting
Woods followed by woods. The sloping fell is lush with trees. Ash, sycamore, oak, massive old trees that have surveyed this path for many decades. A small apple at my feet makes me look up – a crab apple tree, throwing a delicate lattice onto the show-soft sky. Beeches: smooth, twisting, resilient beeches. A stand of birch, its higher slender branches maroon and leafless. Brushes, blushing. Hazels, fallen leaves at their feet. Hawthorns, gnarled trunks and branches writhing for space, thorned fingers, berries red.
Higher up, a thicker stand of birches, leaf-bare branches holding their nuts up to the sky. Higher still, larches, yellow in the last of their autumn shout. And then, this Scots pine, squat, wearing its canopy like a hat, its thick red-barked branches splayed out as if for a vast nest. The land falls in a deep slope and I stand eye level with the top of the tallest pine in the valley – the Glencoyne Pine.
The mystery of the Glencoyne Scots Pine:
How to be still in the wind.
Walk to the Glencoyne Pine, October 28, 2016
Join us for an autumn walk in the fells above Glencoyne, and a visit to this stunning tree. For details and to book, visit The Long View Walks page.
Learn more about the Scots pine
We’ll post links to blogs about this wonderful pine tree, about its fellow pines around the country, and stories of the land around it as we update through 2016 and 2017.
Read about the colour transformation at the pine
Planning – Orange: a Haiku in the Trees