I was given a splendid tour of Bradley Wood by Mick Harrop. It is ancient woodland containing bell pits showing a former use by digging for coal.

The woodland is an interesting mix of tree species as a result of planting over recent decades by the Scout Camp and Activity Centre. But when you filter these out an older landscape emerges, which includes large Hazel coppice stools and many fine Oaks.

One of my photos is of a Beech which is large in both height and girth and looking remarkably healthy. It could easily be 200 year old, an age which is rare for this species in our area. Notice the graffiti carved in the bark high up the trunk.

A most intriguing tree is a large multi-stemmed Oak growing from an old coppice stool. Just how old is it? Looking at the width of the base and how it could have spread outwards with each coppice cycle is it fanciful to think in terms of 400 years old?

There are also some American Red Oaks (Quercus rubra), with leaves showing the natural variation in shape which caused me confusion when trying to identify them.

Before we went to Bradley Wood, Mick showed me an Oak in the middle of a field near Warley Town. It is the kind of tree that stands out in the landscape; with its spreading branches being evidence for it always having been an open grown tree.

To keep this Oak from losing its character and help it live longer, it is important not to let it become part of a woodland. If pollards were created from the young Oaks nearby—their present branch structure being ideal for doing this—both young and old would benefit. The many burrs contain dormant buds, which are just waiting for the right conditions to enable new shoots to grow. This is an Ancient Tree of the future.


                                                       
                                                          Ancient Oak of the future

                                                        Beech tree at Bradley Wood

 
                                                      Beech tree at Bradley Wood

                                                       How old is this Oak coppice?

                                              Wide variations in leaf shape on Red Oak