The dynamic group of Cumbrian cultural and historic attractions – Cumbria’s Living Heritage is reminding visitors and local residents that culture is not just an indoor phenomenon, as it highlights tree-mendous cultural experiences to be had outdoors during October.
Cumbria’s Living Heritage is working on the principle that its members have trees that are a tour de force and that Autumn is the perfect time to let trees take them on a journey in time, back to their historical roots. It says this can be illuminating, inspiring and fun, opening up stories that visitors and locals never knew about and, thanks to Lake District tree locations, often views to die for.
The group boasts Grizedale and Whinlatter Forests amongst its membership and is highlighting Grizedale as being home to over 50 amazing forest sculptures, including the giant megaphone, RUUP, a totem pole, the incredible Lady of the Water and more. It is also sure few people are aware of what to find on a beech tree on the Bogle Crag trail – a carving of a helmet, made by a German Prisoner of War held at the Grizedale Hall No 1 POW camp between 1939 and 1945. Many prisoners were elite officers from sunken U-boats, making this story even more compelling.
Whinlatter is also going all out to tempt those wanting a unique experience – forest bathing, or Shinrin-Yoko, as it is also known. This beautiful experience is an opportunity to relax, unwind and connect with the natural environment, switching off from the pressures of life and simply having a chance to ‘be’. With a session on November 15, this could be a pull for those needing to de-stress amidst nature.
Fabulous ‘famous’ trees are also being highlighted by Cumbria’s Living Heritage, this including Grizedale’s ancient 400-year-old lime, but also another such tree, to be found at Holker Hall and Gardens, in Cark-in-Cartmel. There, the Holker Great Lime was named one of the Tree Council’s ’50 Great British Trees’ in 1992. Standing 72 feet high, with a fluted trunk 25 feet in circumference, it is easy to see why.
With lots going on at Holker, including a Garden Tour with the Head Gardener, on October 21, which includes an afternoon tea within the ticket price, and Winter Markets between November 6 and 8, Cumbria’s Living Heritage hopes to lure more visitors to Cumbria in what will be a slightly extended season for some members.
One of its most mysterious trees, is to be found at Muncaster Castle. ‘Tom Fool’s Tree’ is a magnificent Sweet Chestnut underneath which the last Fool of Muncaster, the 16th century Thomas Skelton, (thought to be the Tom Fool of legend) would purposefully sit to determine the fate of passers-by seeking directions. If he liked the direction seekers, he sent them on a safe route; if he did not, he sent them to their death on the local quicksands! With Muncaster’s gardens, Hawk & Owl Centre and Halloween 2020 activities all available to those wishing to visit, Tom Fool’s tree could be the final piece in the jigsaw, bringing visitors in.
With extended opening this year, there is also the chance to see the 17th century tree delights at Levens Hall and Gardens in the South Lakes, right through to October 29. This is the world’s oldest and most extensive topiary garden, containing 100 pieces of Yew Taxus baccata and Golden Yew Taxus baccata ‘Aurea’, as well as Box Buxus, clipped into unusual designs that include the Umbrella Tree, shortlisted for the Woodland Trust’s ‘Tree of the Year’ in 2016 and planted in the 1690s. Sharing the limelight with designs including chess pieces, a judge’s wig and a jug of Levens’ secret-recipe Morocco Ale, this should prove a pull for Autumn visitors and local residents’ days out, particularly as Levens Kitchen and shop will be open 7 days a week from the end of October, to March 28, 2021 (apart from on dates over the festive season).
At National Trust Sizergh near Kendal, the firework-coloured Japanese maple trees are ablaze with colour in Autumn, whilst the scent of toffee apples wafts from Japanese katsura in the herbaceous border. Over 65 varieties of apples can be found in the orchard and, with the attraction of a woodland walk from the car park, taking in views of Helsington Barrows and Church Fell, this is another great way to escape from time indoors.
Cumbria’s Living Heritage’s marketing co-ordinator, Jeanette Edgar, says: “With historic Scots Pines at Mirehouse, an explosion of colour and the spectacular Gercidophyllum tree at volunteer-run Holehird Gardens near Windermere, plus a Gruffalo trail at Whinlatter, Cumbria’s Living Heritage is confident that its trees can provide fun and tree-mendous leisure opportunities this October.
“We have information about all members easily accessible at www.cumbriaslivingheritage.co.uk and so many more things to see and do, safely and both outdoors and indoors. We hope many will support us during the month ahead.”