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10m tree found in the Brecon Beacons

It’s not every day you stumble across a previously unrecorded ancient oak with a girth of 10m, but this is exactly what happened to Bruce McDonald and his friend.

Bruce is a member of Wenvoe Wildlife Group, a community managed wildlife group based in and around Wenvoe, a village in the Vale of Glamorgan, and so recognised the significance of this tree, spotted next to the Beacons Way, east of Cwmdu.

Bruce said; “We just happened to be out there walking. I always carry a long measuring tape in the ruck-sack and have 'trained' my walking companion featured in the photograph to alert me if I have missed a potential old tree, which is what happened here. It did not look so spectacular from the footpath side, although the girth was sufficient to suggest it was worth checking it from the field side.” What they found was the very hollow shell of an old pollarded oak. Although the girth may be exaggerated by part of the tree falling away from the main trunk, it is still clearly a significant ancient tree for Wales.

The Brecon Beacons is a relatively under recorded area for its old trees but has revealed some spectacular rowan, birch and hazel, as well as the more frequently recorded bigger trees, such as oak and Sweet chestnut. On the east side of the National Park, on the site of the 12th century Llanthony Priory, some ancient box trees (Buxus sempervirens) have been reported, laying collapsed, juniper-like, on the hillside.

Bruce continued; “The valley above Cwm Mawr which we had just walked was also interesting as it was populated by a huge amount of mistletoe all hosted by hawthorn.” So, whenever you are out and about this autumn, keep a look out and you too may discover a tree as exciting and important as Bruce!