Walking with the Ancients

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400 year old Ancient sweet chestnuts at Croft Castle  (National Trust)

My creativity is inspired by the natural world around us.  To walk amongst ancient trees is my most inspirational place to be.  I’ve had the pleasure to work with these fine trees through my work in the Conservation Sector over the last 17 years.

I love looking up to see shapes and faces in their gnarly trunks, capturing these fine trees and their enormous size, placed in the landscape.  This week I’ve been lucky to visit Croft Castle and Kentchurch Court in Herefordshire, to meet these incredible trees and some fine people too.  Herefordshire is a jewel in the crown when it comes to these old trees. We are truly humbled to have such a fine collection in this Shire.

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Exploring an Ancient Oak in a wood pasture Restoration Croft Castle (National Trust)

This is the Jack of Kemp oak tree I visited over 10 years ago and I can see much change. Photographs are a source of creativity but can also become records to show change in the landscape. My previous photographs show that the Jack of Kemp has since lost half its canopy.

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The Jack of  Kemp Oak, Kentchurch Court. (Private Estate)

I’ve mostly photographed these trees but I’m thinking of heading out over the summer to sketch them and share some of my Ancient tree stories from these special meetings. I’ve been inspired by the ink drawings in the historic bookplates which you might discover in the archives. Maybe these tree time-capsules deserve to be recorded in ink where we will have a lasting record of them for future generation to discover.

Have you been inspired to go out and discover the ancient trees in your local area? Please share your discoveries with me here or on my Instagram site @thewalkingsketchbook.

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