Exmoor’s Amazing Trees
Exmoor is not best known for its trees, with many people picturing the heather moorland, mires or farmland. However, as you walk along the coast path or in any of the combes, drive along the roads bordered by beech hedges, or rest in any of Exmoor’s settlements, you will notice a surprising number of trees. Indeed, many of the trees found within Exmoor National Park are of national, or even international, importance, and are undoubtedly a vital part of what makes Exmoor special:
Highest! At 350m above sea level, Exmoor National Park Authority’s Birchcleave Wood at Simonsbath is reputed to be the highest Beech plantation in England. This makes it an important site for monitoring the effects of climate change as it is often the first site to respond to any alterations in climatic conditions.
Tallest! At Nutcombe Bottom, nr Dunster, there is a Douglas fir that is recorded in the Guiness Book of records (1988) as the “Tallest tree in England”. There are other trees nearby that are hot on its heels, and this is a reflection of the excellent growing conditions that Exmoor’s climate and soils provide.
Oldest! Exmoor has a world class reserve of ancient or veteran trees due to the careful management of old hedgerows, presence as remnant features of former wood pasture, inclusion as features of designed parklands and from being well loved living monuments in settlements.
Rarest! The northern wooded coastal cliffs, which are a unique feature themselves, are also the ideal spot for our endemic whitebeams to grow. There are three species that exist nowhere else in the world, and one more that is new and has only recently been classified.