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Voting opens to decide Cumbria’s top tree

The Smiling Tree
The Smiling Tree

[A] TREE STUMP, a 400-year-old oak and a ‘smiling’ fir are in the running to win the accolade Cumbria’s Top Tree.

From Wednesday March 1 members of the public from Cumbria can vote for their favourite tree in the county via the Cumbria’s Top 50 Trees website www.cumbriastop50trees.org.uk

They can also vote at a series of exhibitions about the Heritage Lottery Fund project which will be running across the county from March 1 through to May 31.

“The winning tree will represent Cumbria in national and international tree competitions which are great opportunities to put our county’s amazing tree heritage on the map,” said Project Co-ordinator Iris Glimmerveen.

Over the last year members of the public have been nominating favourite trees which have now been whittled down to a final 50.

Nominations included deeply personal and moving accounts of people’s attachment to certain trees.

“It is these stories and individuals’ affection for specific trees that makes this project so unique,” said Iris.

Trees in the final 50 include:

  • A tree stump at Talkin Tarn that evokes one Carlisle pensioner’s memories of a schoolchild comparing her arthritic hand to the gnarled tree roots;
  • A sweet chestnut at Muncaster Castle associated with a legend about the original Tom Fool;
  • A fir at Eskdale that has a smiley face carved into its bark;
  • A tree struck by lightning that was nominated by a woman suffering from cancer who has since sadly died;
  • A 400-year-old oak at Lowther which, if it fell, would lead to the downfall of the living Earl, according to local legend;
  • A plane tree in Barrow that reminds a pensioner of childhood visits to the dentist.

Mrs Glimmerveen said one of the most surprising elements of the project was that so few well-known iconic trees in Cumbria were nominated.

“Most of the nominations were trees that I have never heard of but which people nevertheless felt attached to,’ she said.

“As a key aim of Cumbria’s Top 50 Trees is to encourage local authorities, landowners and official bodies to look after individual trees, this gives real power to the argument that any tree, anywhere, no matter how big or small, can matter to someone and should be protected.’’

Voting will run from March 1 to May 31.

The winning tree will be announced in June when a special commemorative book and map of Cumbria’s Top 50 Trees will be published.

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