Sycamore Gap Tree: Britain's other iconic and spectacular trees you should take the time to visit

The Sycamore Gap tree is no more - but you shouldn't miss your chance to see some of the UK's other most loved and iconic trees
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One of the UK's most loved and photographed trees has been downed, in a poignant reminder that our beautiful and ancient trees should not be taken for granted - no matter how long they have stood.

Northumbria Police began investigating after pictures emerged on Thursday morning (28 September) of the famed Sycamore Gap tree lying on its side, with spokespeople from both the force and the Northumberland National Park Authority saying it was believed to be an act of vandalism. A 16-year-old boy has since been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.

Also known as the Robin Hood tree, the iconic landmark had stood alongside Hadrian's Wall - in a dramatic dip between two hills - for more than 200 years. It was also voted the Woodland Trust's English Tree of the Year in 2016.

While there used to be separate contests for England, Wales, and Scotland, now a UK-wide contest is held each year, with the tree scoring the highest number of votes taking the title - reserved for Britain and Northern Ireland's most spectacular and beloved trees.

Amid the outpouring of grief on social media, some have taken up the Woodland Trust's call to make sure our ancient trees are better protected. But many have lamented the fact they never got the chance to visit the tree before its destruction.

Here are some of other Tree of the Year winners from throughout the years, which you should also make time to visit - although hopefully they will still be standing strong for years to come.

The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, circa 1955 (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, circa 1955 (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, circa 1955 (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

Major Oak, Sherwood Forest

For another tree with a Robin Hood connection, look no further than the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, purported to be the resting place of the legendary hero and his merry men.

This colossal oak is estimated to weigh 23 tonnes, with a canopy spanning an enormous 28 metres. It is estimated to be anywhere between 800 and 1,000 years old, and is known for its unusual shape - which may be because it was actually several oaks that fused together as young saplings.

The Major Oak was England's Tree of the Year in 2014.

The Allerton Oak, Calderstones Park, Liverpool (Woodland Trust/PA)The Allerton Oak, Calderstones Park, Liverpool (Woodland Trust/PA)
The Allerton Oak, Calderstones Park, Liverpool (Woodland Trust/PA)

Allerton Oak, Liverpool

Speaking of impressive ancient oaks, there are few with a history more storied than the Allerton Oak in Liverpool's Calderstones Park.

Thought to predate the Norman invasion in 1066, stories involving the Irish oak say a medieval court was once held beneath its branches, and the 1864 Lottie Sleigh ship's gunpowder explosion is said to have left it with an enormous crack.

It produces somewhere in the realm of 100,000 acorns each year, and its children have been grown across the world - thanks in part to local soldiers fighting in World War II being sent its acorns as good luck charms by family members back home.

While it's still going strong for now, the 2019 English Tree of the Year winner was expected to die by 2020 - so now would be a good time to see it. Its successor "Allerton Oak the Younger", grown from one of its acorns, was planted in the park in 2007.

The gnarled roots of the Waverley Abbey Yew, believed to be more than 500 years old, in the grounds of a ruined abbey (Photo: PA Wire)The gnarled roots of the Waverley Abbey Yew, believed to be more than 500 years old, in the grounds of a ruined abbey (Photo: PA Wire)
The gnarled roots of the Waverley Abbey Yew, believed to be more than 500 years old, in the grounds of a ruined abbey (Photo: PA Wire)

Waverley Abbey Yew, Surrey

Sitting amidst the ruins of an ancient abbey, last year's UK Tree of the Year winner is a real sight to behold.

Impressively, the 500-year-old Yew's gnarled roots are intertwined with the actual ruins - of what was Britain's first Cistercian monastery - themselves, and it has been described as a long-standing witness of history.

When it won the UK title in 2022, Woodland Trust spokesman Tom Reed said: “People who visit Waverley Abbey come with a respect and appreciation of the abbey's history and stories.

"It is great to see that this magnificent tree has been recognised at Tree of the Year 2022 and the way the tree is rooted within the ruins of the abbey is a great symbol of the fact that our ancient trees are intertwined with other aspects of our cultural heritage."

Nellie's Tree, West Yorkshire

The overall 2018 UK Tree of the Year winner is actually three beech trees, grafted together to form the letter 'N'.

A tale of undying love, the 'N' stands for Nellie - reportedly the girlfriend of a local man in the 1920s - who grafted the trees together in a bid to impress her. It apparently worked, as the couple later married.

Also known as the Love Tree, Nellie's Tree can be found near the village of Aberford, in West Yorkshire.

The Survivor Tree, in Carrifran Valley in the Borders (Woodland Trust/PA)The Survivor Tree, in Carrifran Valley in the Borders (Woodland Trust/PA)
The Survivor Tree, in Carrifran Valley in the Borders (Woodland Trust/PA)

Survivor Tree, Scottish Borders

This rowan was once the only tree left standing in the Carrifran Valley, a solitary figure in an otherwise barren landscape.

The tree became an enduring symbol of hope to a local restoration group - the Borders Forest Trust - that one day the valley would be a wild forest once more. The Trust bought the area, known as the Carrifran Wildwood, in January 2000, the BBC reports, and has planted more than 600,000 other trees there to 2021.

Fi Martynoga, who nominated the rowan, said the tree "rapidly became a very important symbol of our aspirations to see this valley completely rewooded and restored to its natural vegetation".

"The beauty of it is they are now beginning to reproduce themselves. It shows how you can change an environment for the better, preserve and multiply what is around."

An enduring symbol of hope that the valley would one day be completely rewilded, the Survivor Tree took out both the Scottish and UK Tree of the Year titles in 2020.

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