Last week, with the approach of the first Tree Following posts of the new year, I set out in bright winter sunshine to select my new tree. The fact that I am now in danger of missing the window demonstrates the all-enveloping nature of being self employed! I remember, when working very long hours for a big company, how important weekends became. Evenings too, when I wasn’t too knackered to do anything other than collapse in front of the tv. Weekends?! What are they?! I am struggling to balance the need to get this new venture up and running with the need to remember to look after myself, feed my soul etc. So apologies for my lack of visits to and comments on your blogs, I am working on it, honest, and I miss you…

I digress. I loved following my hawthorn last year, far more than I thought I would. It forced me to get up close and personal to a tree that otherwise I tended to just ignore. The temptation to pick another tree in my garden for this year was enormous. So convenient, and I planted 7 trees last year, any of which would make an interesting candidate.

Instead I decided to try and use this as an opportunity to encourage me to get out and about, despite the tendency to bury myself in work. TNG and I started doing regular walks together in an attempt to take achieving a base level of fitness seriously. We kill multiple birds with a single stone by using this as an opportunity to talk about business-related things away from the computer screens and enormous ‘To Do’ lists, so adding in tree following to our normal cliff top walk isn’t going to work. So I decided to pick a tree along the river valley instead.

The River Wygyr runs through the village to the sea – I did a post about the old brickworks that lie further up the valley not long after we moved here, in fact almost exactly two years to the day that I took these photographs, and in very similar weather. It is a beautiful area, much loved by dog walkers as there is a network of concrete paths navigable in even the worst weather. It is also an area I don’t tend to visit much, the beach and cliffs are a much more obvious attraction. Choosing a tree from the river valley will make sure I visit regularly and get to know the whole area through the seasons. So off I set.

being-nosey

The route takes me past the local beach and harbour, up to the main road bridge, giving me an opportunity to check out the progress on the old shop that is slowly being refurbished. I have no idea whether this will be another shop, I rather assume not, the location leaves a lot to be desired (no easy parking) and there are several empty shop units on the High Street as it is. I assume it will be a house with a rather fine view up the river when it is finished.

afon-wygyr

A steep set of steps lead from the road level down to the river, and already I was feeling good about my choice of location. The ‘Cemaes in Bloom’ group, together with other volunteers, maintain the river valley area and have planted hundreds of bulbs. There are already signs of the snowdrops to come.

first-snowdrops

And after the snowdrops, daffodils will turn the slope golden.

daffodils-to-come

As well as the ferns, Alexanders and bulbs there are lots of saplings and the occasional tree stump.

fascinating-fungi

Plenty to distract the eye, but looking back up the slope one can’t help but be impressed at the dedication required to clear and plant such a steep area – with a river waiting at the bottom!

steep-sides

But I was on the hunt for a tree. I wanted one with character, in interesting surroundings, and had one very obvious candidate in mind.

old-gnarly

I have no idea what kind of tree this is, but it stands like a sentinel by the side of the path just before it divides, offering you the choice of crossing over the river via a footbridge of continuing on. It’s a wonderful tree, but the river has bent away from the path at this point, and I wanted to pick a tree that was right by the river. Something more like this, perhaps.

no-cigar

The bank here is steep, so getting to the foot of the tree would be tricky, and anyway, it didn’t strike me as having the level of character I was after. My hawthorn is a tough act to follow.

the-candidate

This was more the kind of thing I had in mind. Leaning out over the river, an interesting shape, though it wasn’t entirely clear whether this was one, two or three trees.

full-of-character

It seems to have the same knobbly growths that my magnificent sentinel had, on a younger body. And there is the bonus of a nest box. Not to mention there is plenty of lichen and moss on the trunks to add interest when there are no leaves. A definite possibility.

the-undergrowth

The immediate surroundings are interesting too, though still a tad steep. There is a clear area on the opposite side of the river which might give a good alternative viewing location too. But which one of the three – if it is three – do I pick? The leaning-out-over-the-river one? The one with the bird box?

interesting-surroundings

I do like the fact that it is on a section of the path that reveals the old railway tracks from when the brickworks used to send bricks down to the harbour.

On up to the next bridge, and across to get another perspective.

the-other-side

This side is more open, with large areas of grass and stands of trees.

good-paths-essential

The whole area gets very wet, the concrete paths are ugly but very practical. As I wandered on back down the river I spotted several other potential candidates. I rather liked the shape of this one:

the-leaning-competition

A little further down, I was tempted by a tree that sits by a wilder section of the river, where rocks and eddies make the water dance.

wild-water-candidate

The whole area is bewitching, particularly when bare branches are set against perfect blue skies. And everywhere there is the sound of birdsong.

perfect-sky

A little further on and I spotted my number one candidate. There is handy little copse just to the left of it coming from this direction, which will hopefully help me find it when everything is in leaf later in the year.

view-from-other-side

And as I had hoped, this side affords me a good view of the tree cluster.

many-from-one

Certainly two rather than three, and possibly just one? I love the idea of being able to chart the differences at different levels of water – there is quite a dramatic rise and fall, depending on rain and what the tide state is.

characterful-leaning

So I think I have my candidate. No idea what kind of tree it is, but I am looking forward to making its acquaintance over the course of 2015.

landmark-copse

Though I must remember to wear wellies when it has been raining, the little marker-copse sits in the middle of an area of grass that gets more than a little muddy in wet weather. It is also covered in molehills, which makes me wonder, do moles swim through the tunnels when it gets really wet?!

magical-woodland

Altogether a lovely place to have to visit once a month. And at this point I get the option of crossing the bridge to retrace my steps or turning left and heading up to the High Street.

tea-shop-bridge

The path comes out next to a coffee shop. It is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment, but once it opens again, I could find myself sitting outside looking down at the river drinking coffee, or even, dare I say it, eating ice cream…

Thank you again to Lucy for hosting the Tree Following meme. I am off to catch up with some other trees. And because I feel faintly guilty for not choosing my sentinel, I will leave you with another shot of it. Just because.

gnarly-old-friend

46 thoughts on “A Winter Walk in Search of a Tree

  1. Whatever you choose I’m sure it will be a perfect one and looking forward to finding out what it will be :) good luck on your new venture and these long lovely walks will certainly help refresh ones mind!

    1. I’m pretty sure I’ve made my choice, those multiple trunks springing out of the water fascinate me…

  2. It looks as if your chosen tree is in a rather precarious place. Hope you will be safe while you observe. Don’t fall in!

    I haven’t begun thinking about my next tree yet. But you have given me a very good hint on how to set about it. I will choose a tea-shop and find the nearest tree to it. Sounds like a good plan . . . Now to select the tea-shop!

    1. LOL! I must admit I’m grateful that I can view it from the other side, which is nice and flat – if a little muddy!

      Starting from a tea shop can’t be a bad way to narrow down the choice. Glad to have inspired you!!

  3. A most enjoyable post and wonderful pictures, which show that you had plenty of interesting trees to chose from. I look forward to seeing your tree following posts all about the one you have chosen.
    I haven’t chosen my new tree yet although I did wander round the allotments this morning and found a few that caught my eye. xx

    1. Hello Flighty, I was indeed rather spoilt for choice. Good luck picking your next specimen, I’m sure it will be a good one!

  4. had a similar hunt to find mine but settled for Tavistock square! Glad you’ve gone with the triple tree as it has the addition of water for interest and a lovely walk to boot! Your sentinel is a fine specimen though so am sure you can include it in passing as you follow your tree

    1. Hello Laura, yes, I think the sentinel will keep creeping in to the posts… I find those multiple trunks fascinating, and the way some of the roots seem to extend down the bank and I think in one case may be turning into another “tree”. No “settling” with Tavistock Square, look forward to reading more xx

  5. A really enjoyable post Janet, I love how you’ve decided upon your tree, which may be an Alder given its thriving on the water edge, did it have any catkins or cones? I haven’t decided on a tree yet but your post is inspiring to go further afield. If I can’t decide I shall just enjoy yours!

    1. Hello Julie, you are more than welcome to share! Yes, my guess is alder, there are certainly loads of them around there, but I am pretty useless when it comes to tree identification at the best of times, and even worse than useless when there are no leaves.

  6. Dear Janet, I am self employed, too, and I can so very much relate to what you said in your intro to this post. Even though I love my job, I need my garden and nature to keep me sane, nourish me and give me the opportunity to completely relax and get lost in a very different world.
    I loved joining you on the walk in search of the tree that you want to follow this year. I like the one that you have chosen in the end, but I am curious to know what kind of tree it is. Maybe over the course of the year we will find out.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

    1. Hi Christina, I certainly hope we end up finding out what kind of tree it is! Alder is the most likely answer, given that it is happy growing with its feet in the river and I know there are lots of alder trees in the valley. As to the work/life balance, still working on it…

    1. Hi Sue, it will be interesting to see if the fungi persist through the year, I’ve never really taken enough notice of such things before. The valley is full of good trees, it will be nice to get to know the whole area better through the year. Look forward to meeting your new tree!

  7. What fun to read about your walk in search of a tree, Janet :) I have been putting off deciding on my first one – guess I had better make up my mind and get on with it. I look forward to seeing yours through the year!

    1. Hi Amy, it is hard, isn’t it, picking just one tree, and you know it has to be one that you are happy to get to know properly. OK, that just sounds weird…

  8. What a great walk. I have a stream that looks remarkably like that at the bottom on my yard and I felt right at home and walking alongside….smart lady to choose a tree by the cafe! You know what got me really excited about your close-up shots–all the bulbs and snowdrops coming up. I take it that it’s been as warm in your neck of the woods as it has been here–we must be effected by the same jet stream. The rest of the country here (U.S.) is in a deep freeze and it’s in the high 50’s here and sunny. Just like your climate I gather. Thanks for a wonderfully personal walk in the woods!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the walk Susan! How lovely to have a bubbling stream at the bottom of your yard, I love the noise water makes. Yes, it has been exceptionally mild here, even when it has been cold elsewhere in the country, though the temperature dipped over night on the last two nights. I wonder if it is enough to have killed of some of the slugs before Spring brings them out to graze on my veg garden.

  9. what a nice walk Janet, I can’t believe it is two years since your walk to the old brick works, I thought you were going to say last year, I remember I enjoy that post too, I like your choice of tree, I think Julie could be right in her thinking it maybe an Alder, looking at your photo from the other side of the river, the way the root and trunk of the tree on the right sticks out to the right, it looks to me as if they may all have sprung from a fallen tree, I could and probably am completely wrong just how it appears in my weird mind, there is a tree in the college grounds in Stornoway like it, several new trees have grown from a fallen tree and that is by the small river, I look forward to seeing your tree during the year, like you I really enjoyed it last year, Frances

    1. Hi Frances, what an intriguing idea, that the trees are sprouting from a fallen comrade. Yes, I think it is an alder too, I’m just not willing to nail my colours to the mast just yet!

  10. I love the idea of going for a walk to choose a tree to follow, Janet – and thank you for taking us on the walk with you.

    1. You’re welcome! I need all the help I can get to remember to get out and about this year…

  11. *smiling* Well, picking a tree can be hard. The one by the water seems kind of exciting. And if you fall in the water when following that tree you have to tell us all about it ;-)

  12. I really enjoyed taking that walk with you, and i am looking forward to finding out what kind of tree it is. The cafe sounds like good motivation for that walk too! I will be joining in this year I hope…. haven’t got my act together for January though so will have to start next month!

    1. Hurrah! Glad to hear you will be joining in this year Cathy. One of the lovely things about this meme as that there aren’t really any rules, you can start at any time, and you don’t even have to change trees each year. I was tempted to carry on with my hawthorn, but the added incentive to get out of the house that I think this will provide was too good an opportunity to miss.

  13. I’m not usually enthusiastic about memes, but this seems like a fun one, especially the way you’re going about it! You’ll be neighborhood-following as much as tree-following, with coffee and ice cream to gild the lily. Enjoy, Janet!

    1. Hi Stacy, it is a really good one, I loved the way that following my hawthorn last year forced me to be more observant. And yes, the neighborhood angle is certainly another big incentive! I hope they open the cafe up in Spring. It is going to be a heritage centre too, which I am intrigued about.

  14. A pleasure to meet your new tree Janet. Looking forward to getting to know it better as the year unfolds. I have still to choose mine. I’m also hopeless at identifying trees when they have no clothes on :)

    1. Hi Anna, naked trees are strangely ambiguous, given the strong statements they make when silhouetted against the sky! Glad I am not alone in finding identification of naked trees nigh on impossible. Good luck picking your new tree!

  15. What a wonderful place to walk! And I like your strategy of using the walking time to communicate with your partner about business and non-business. ;-) I’m so jealous of the beautiful blooming plants in your landscape. I have some almost-blooming indoor plants, but the garden outside is in a deep sleep that will last until mid-March. Oh, and lovely trees–no matter which one you choose!

    1. Hello Beth, yes, deep winter never seems to reach the valley, though the first winter we were here there was enough snow that, in one shady bend of the river a huge lump of ice lasted well in to the Spring. Our walking strategy has hit a temporary roadblock in the shape of TNG collecting a gammy knee. Must find a solution, not just to relieve the pain but because it really does work well for us, walking and talking.

  16. Yours looks to be a tree with much character! I love its nubbly look and the moss or lichen growing on it, and the water is certainly an added attraction. I can’t wait to see what the whole area looks like when the tree has greened.

    1. I just hope I can still find my tree once everything has started growing again Anna! But I am glad you share my enthusiasm, for all that moss and the lumps and bumps.

  17. What a beautiful walk to find your next tree. You live in such a lovely part of the world. I haven’ t chosen my tree yet but you have inspired me to go and look.
    A great post Janet.

    1. I do indeed Chloris, I feel very lucky to have so much beauty, and so much variety, right on my doorstep. Glad to have helped inspire you to go out and choose your next subject, though you set the bar high with your posts last year… Look forward to seeing what you pick this time round, and reading all about it.

  18. You have chosen a lovely spot for following a tree, good luck with keeping an eye with it for the next year. And so much else to see while you are out anyway – looking forward to your posts :-)

    1. Thanks Helene, yes, I will be spoilt when it comes to choosing what to include in my tree posts. Probably not the best idea, given how hard I find it to write short posts as it is!!

  19. What a wonderful excuse to take a fabulous walk each month! I like your choice very much. The tree has a lot of character, and the walk will be enchanting. I look forward to your tree posts!

    1. Isn’t it! Though I feel bit daft that it seems it takes a meme to tear me away from the sea occasionally. I’m really looking forward to the spring bulbs.

  20. What an absolutely delightful walk, and with decent paths. Just love the clarity of your pictures and I will be watching for you identifying your tree of choice.

    1. Thank you Alistair, glad you enjoyed it. Its a wonderful environment to have in the middle of a seaside village.

  21. I love the idea of venturing outside of your garden to follow a tree. I thought about that but knew this was not going to be the year to do that. So I am picking a new tree in my garden. But I really need to get out more now that I am home. Maybe I will change my mind…hmmmm. I love your tree and its location.

  22. Oh I really felt like I was on that walk with you. You certainly have a good choice of trees there to make a final decision from :) There’s nothing quite like the thought of a monthly blog project post deadline looming to get you out and about throughout the year …whatever the weather.

  23. oh this tree following is a wonderful exercise. Glad to see you picked something a little further from home, I enjoyed the walk as much as the tree. I would love to get out on a spring walk today, stuck inside on day three of snowstorm-itis. I also liked that you picked a tree you don’t know. It’s a good excuse to learn about a new plant. Looking forward to more posts.

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