Though I’m living in, and loving London, a huge part of my heart still remains in the beautiful rolling hills and incredible landscapes of Somerset where I grew up. Luckily my parents still live there, so regular trips back home are feasible and reasonably plentiful, keeping me topped up on fresh country air.
On my most recent visit to Somerset, I took a little trip to Dunster to meet the tallest tree in England. A Douglas Fir standing at 61.3m, it’s a few metres off being the tallest tree in the UK, but still a neck-craning spectacle, residing in an absolutely stunning bit of woodland in the Dunster Estate. Given all the time in the world, this species would never reach the great heights of the Giant Sequoias in California, but the Dunster Douglas does manage to trump Nelson’s Column in London. The world’s tallest, the Giant Sequoia General Sherman in the USA, has been growing since 500BC but by comparison, the Douglas Firs in this small sheltered valley are just babies, having been planted in 1876. As you can see from the image, I did my absolute very best to stretch myself as tall possible and still I am but a tiny dot at the very base of the tree. I do not envy the chap who had to climb up to the top to measure the thing!!!
The Tall Trees Trail is only a gentle little stroll – a 600m circuit fully accessible to all. But for such a short walk it crams in a heck of a lot of beauty – including Britain’s largest Magnolia tree. Britain’s champion trees boast all sorts of impressive statistics: Wales nurtures Yews that are thousands of years old, and Scotland harbours the tallest tree in the UK – another Douglas Fir at 66.4m!
Being a woodcarver, I feel it’s so important to stay connected with the origins of the materials that I work with, in the same ways that meat eaters should never forget that meat comes from a living, breathing animal – the planks and blocks of wood that I carve into all sorts of new creations also used to be living, breathing organisms which are deserving of recognition and respect. I can’t wait to see which of these remarkable trees I’ll get to meet next!