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Dozens of trees toppled in Great Knott Wood

[F]erocious winds which ripped through the Lake District last week toppled dozens of 50ft trees.

Great Knott Wood, on the banks of Lake Windermere, took a huge brunt of the storm, due to its hillside position.

Strong winds toppled Norway spruce and there was fears that the Blessed Talking Tree would be affected but it has stood firm.

Woodland Trust Site Manager Heather Swift said; “The wind came from an unusual direction which these huge fast growing trees couldn’t cope with as roots has insufficient grip on the wet, rocky ground.”

Around 170 trees fell, resulting in a massive tangle along the main track and many single blockages. Signs are now up at the main entrances, explaining to visitors where they can or can’t get to.

Work to clear the tracks is ongoing and expected to be completed by Easter.

Recordings of actor Brian Blessed’s voice were fitted and installed inside the very special yew tree at Great Knott Wood last year, bringing the wood to life for visitors.

Great Knott Wood is a precious area of ancient woodland on the edge of Lake Windermere being used by the Trust as a restoration demonstration site to educate and inspire visitors’ understanding of why ancient woodland is so important.

The tree tells us it’s been there for hundreds of years as the woodland has been looked after by people, but later too many planted trees had blocked out the sun for the yew, before the trust thinned out the wood as part of its restoration process.

Ancient woods are a vital part of our history and natural landscape. These precious, irreplaceable habitats have been in existence since at least the earliest reliable maps were published – 1600 in England and Wales and 1750 in Scotland – although many are centuries older.

Soil in ancient woodland is unique and contains numerous fungi, insects, microbes and nutrients – some rare plants and fungi rely on its ecological value to grow and survive. Ancient woodland is also the home of veteran trees which, along with deadwood, fallen logs and branches provide one of the most important habitats for wildlife. Archaeological features that create links to our past can also be found in many ancient woods.

Today, ancient woodland is facing increasing threats and covers only 2% of the UK. Almost half of what remains is in need of restoration as a result of being planted with non-native conifers and the spread of invasive species such as rhododendron, which can cause damage to the existing wildlife.

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