The Old Man of Calke

ENDURANCE…..that is the topic for this weeks Photo Challenge (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/endurance/) and there can be nothing more enduring than the natural world that is all about us.
The tree above is a very special tree. So special that it has been give a name “The Old Man of Calke”. Calke Abbey is a very old English Estate, this Oak tree is one of many veteran Oaks across the parkland. Experts reckon that it is over 2000 years old. It has survived time, storms, winters and summers, rains and of course even the Oak Beetle that has been feeding on it for centuries. No doubt over all that time it provided shelter for cattle and sheep whilst Deer will have grazed below its canopy.

 In more recent years a fence has been erected to provide some protection in the hope that there are many more years of life to come. Each year its crown is covered in leaves, sparse now in comparison to its earlier years but still very majestic.
In those 2000 years the world has changed…what stories it could tell if only it could speak

20th September

(C) David Oakes 2014

Winter in the Woods……..

A bright start to the day and a walk in the woods seemed a good option, so we headed off across county to a spot we haven’t visited since the autumn.  On out last visit the woodland positively glowed and as a reminder here is what it looked like…..


No surprise that in January it should look so different.  The Oak trees with their tangle of branches, grasping skywards are still as attractive……..


Not exactly the same viewpoint but near enough.  Note the very old Oak tree, on the left, sheltered behind a protective fence.  Whilst all the Oak trees in this woodland are ancient Oaks this one is particularly ancient……


This is “The Old Man of Calke” (Calke being the estate upon which it grows) and is reliable dated at well over 1000 years of age.  They do say that an Oak grows for 300 years, lives for 300 and then takes a for a further 300 to die.  Well this one is beating  the odds.

But this is January, despite the sun the woodland is still cold, the winter winds having stripped the woodland naked whistle through unhindered…….


It is hard to believe that in another day it will be February and soon the spring growth will burst into action.  This woodland floor will soon sprout clumps of Snowdrops which in turn will be followed by a carpet of Bluebells, then the leave canopy will darken the woodland floor the shade preventing all but the brambles from growing.  But at least it gives us a chance to admire the trees just as they, are for their shape, and as with these two Sweet Chestnut’s for their bark, each to a predetermined pattern but also each an individual mix of contrast and texture……


But all woodlands are in constant change, with the seasons of course but also from the very woodland cycle of life and death and then life again…..


This old stump of a fallen Beech tree providing a rooting point for a new tree which benefits from the decay beneath and all the nutrients it needs to stimulate growth.    Others find some less secure places to germinate, just like this silver Birch on the very top of this old trunk…this one I guess none to stable a location once the main trunk finally rots away……..


Whilst most of the woodland looks cold and very bare there are  still the odd corner where Ivy clings to a banking and catching the sun provides a welcome roost for a group of Wrens and no doubt much more…..


Whilst the woodland is bare with no outward sign of new life, down by the lake the Weeping Willows are staring to glisten with new yellow growth on the tips of the branches, a welcome sign of things to come….

30.1-L30th January

Post Script….

I have been spring cleaning my cupboards and sorting out equipment I no longer use.   If any U.K. blogger would be interested in acquiring a NIKON D200 DSLR (Body Only) I have two for sale.  Both in excellent condition…….interested then email me and we can discuss.  I might even be able to offer a Nikon Lens.

© David Oakes 2013

1100 years plus 1

Another year and I am pleased to visit an ‘old friend’….as each year goes by I wonder if he will survive the winter, the cold, the wind and the damp. So I was pleased to see him with a brand new head of leaves.


He was named ‘The Old Man of Calke’  to celebrate this area of parkland being designated as a National Nature Reserve.  Ancient Oak’s are a major feature of these woods but this particular Oak was so named as it believed to be at least 1100 years old.  An enormous hollow trunk now sports only a handful of branches but none the less still has a handsome head of new green leaves.  One day it will disappear but I still expect it to outlive me.



It is early summer and the warm weather combined with all the wet weather we have ‘enjoyed’ has brought on an abundance of growth in the hedgerows. At the moment the big winner would seem to be Wild Dog Roses, their delicate shades of white and pink presenting a fresh and welcome appearance in contrast to all the greens.

I mention all the wet weather we have had, yes much needed rain to top up our reservoirs like this one at Staunton Harold now over flowing…….


I say much needed as water levels have been at drought level for a good while now.  Just as a reminder here is the same reservoir some 11 months ago and as you can see a very different situation. The dark shape in the right foreground is a dead Pike one of many fish that didn’t survive.


18th June