Cumbria Crack

The Dowly Tree

Andy Mason building Treefold

[A] bare bird pecked stump marks the remnants of the Dowly Tree which once stood solitary and stoic amongst the limestone outcrops of Little Asby Common.

Dowly is Westmorland dialect for sad, lonely, melancholy and it appears therefore that this was the lonely tree but one which once commanded inspiring views across the common to the Northern Howgills and the Pennines beyond.

Friends of the Lake District, owners of the common have plans to replace the Dowly Tree and visitors to the common may have noticed a new structure, a Treefold, which will provide a fitting home and much needed shelter for a new sapling to continue the Dowly’s solitary vigil of the common.

As part of the Long View project, created to highlight seven remarkably ordinary trees in seven extraordinary locations across Cumbria, Rob and Harriet Fraser, photographer and writer have created the Treefold together with another at Grizedale and a further scheduled to be built in Wasdale later this year.

The Treefold at Little Asby has been built with the help of the extremely talented master waller, Andy Mason from Kirkby Lonsdale, and stone carver and lithographer, Pip Hall from Cowgill in Dentdale.

It has been constructed with stone found locally with traditional techniques and around the centre of the treefold, a line of poetry has been carved into stone. The drystone ‘fold’ will embrace the new Dowly Tree and offer a space for people to sit and pause, and revisit it over the years.

Jan Darrall, policy officer at Friends of the Lake District said: “We’re delighted with the treefold on our property at Little Asby and the opportunity to restore the Dowly Tree, a significant feature in the landscape and an important part of local history.”

Little Asby Common is open access land situated about five miles east of Orton. If you’re interested in visiting, more information about the common and directions can be found on Friends of the Lake District’s website at:

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