Culture Editor Alice Roberts offers an overview of what looks like the makings of either a very beautiful road trip…or a series of miniature spiritual experiences. 

By Alice Roberts


Staying in the UK this summer? Why not go on an Arboreal Pilgrimage?

Here are five of the best trees to visit:

#5: The Breame Oak

This ancient oak is located just outside a slightly dubious school, near the village of Wheatley. It was recorded in the Domesday book as one of the saplings given to the original owner of Holton Manor and is estimated to be about 1,000 years old. It is also the largest oak in Oxfordshire – with a circumference of 9.27 meters.


#4: Old knobbley, Essex

This tree was famous as a sanctuary for witches in the 13th century, and is to this day is loved by locals. It even has its own website. The ghost of Hopkins (who used to persecute witches) is said to haunt the nearby lake, and rather bizarrely, a nuclear bunker was nearby during the Second World War.


#3: Shugborough Yew, Staffordshire

Supposedly the widest Yew in Europe, this tree looks like a small forest from above. It is 350 years old and has multiple rooted branches – so has essentially spent its time growing outwards instead of up.

Image result for shugborough yew tree


#2: Newton’s Apple Tree

Whether this is the tree that caused the famous apple to fall or not, it is believed to be by many prestigious physics departments. Both York and Cambridge have trees grown from cuttings in their university grounds, and it is frequented all year round. The original tree is in an Orchard in Woolsthorpe Manor in Wiltshire, Newton’s childhood home. At one stage it was blown over, and thought to be dead, but managed to miraculously re-root and come back to life?

#1: The Sycamore Gap Tree

Officially the most photographed tree in the UK, the Sycamore Gap tree grows in a dip in Hadrian’s wall, and is said to be where Robin Hood and his men used to gather. How very British.