Farewell, My Lovely


Horse chestnut, Nov 2012. One of the area’s landmark trees.


Sadly, the giant was felled by Storm Eleanor on 2nd/3rd January 2018


This is the earliest photo of the beautiful Horse Chestnut, on the banks of the River Rhee, that I can find. It dates from Nov 2008. It marks the start of many a walk/run/amble.


Here is the broken tree after Storm Eleanor. I wonder if anyone heard it fall? Did it make a sound?


Break point


The tree must have been completely rotten. It shattered into hundreds of pieces on impact.


The tree was obviously in decline. There was die-back at the top and bracket fungus (one of my Alternative Stories) remains on the stump (see photo2)


The Horse Chestnut was a dramatic ghostly presence in fog, November 2011. Its silhouette was particularly notable in the Rhee’s flood-plain environment.

The Horse Chestnut will be sorely missed by locals, walkers and wildlife enthusiasts (it was a favourite roost for the local Barn Owls). Over the last few years the tree has been throwing out new growth at ground level, so it should live on in another form for a few more years, but the giant has gone.


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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24 Responses to Farewell, My Lovely

  1. sharonfreedman says:

    The fact that you have documented and obviously appreciated this tree, somehow makes its final stages more bittersweet. But it is wonderful that you have documented it at different times, in different seasons, a lovely record

    • Thanks Sharon. I am glad that I did take occasional photos and can celebrate its passing. The gap in the landscape will gradually fade, but I don’t expect any new giants to grow on this bit of land.

  2. Christina says:

    Oh that is sad. Let’s hope it does grow up from the base.

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    Always hard to see a large tree go. I call them grandmother/grandfather trees to convey the respect I have for their years and what they’ve witnessed in that time. There really aren’t that many around.

    • We have a register of ancient and veteran trees in the UK, but I don’t suppose it was on it. In truth, I’ve no idea how old it was, except that it felt massive and venerable. Hopefully it is growing on to a new phase now.

  4. a fitting tribute to a lovely old tree, yet its ability to support wildlife is not over, rotting trees become homes to many, many small creatures, I hope it is left or if in the way moved to where is can be left to offer food and shelter still to wildlife, Frances

    • There is a good chance that the fallen tree will remain there till summer when the meadow is cut and then hopefully it will just get pushed aside to the river bank, since I doubt it is worth them removing the decayed wood. 🙂

  5. Chloris says:

    Now you are getting philosophical with that old conundrum: -: ‘ If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?’ But how sad, I think we are going to be losing more and more majestic horse chestnuts from our landscape as they become ever more weakened by leaf miner disease and bleeding canker. I have 2 huge horse chestnuts which are fine in the spring but look terrible by the end of the summer.

    • Ha, well spotted. It hadn’t occurred to me that either contributed, because it looked so heathly until recently. Your right about other large chestnut trees though. We’ve already lost a couple on corners at Wimpole that I know about.

  6. Tina says:

    Well, it’s always sad when a mature, stately tree dies. You’ve documented it beautifully. I hope it’s left to decompose–as it should be.

  7. Brian Skeys says:

    Sadly I think Chloris is right. What was lovely about your tree was the beautiful shapes of its branches in the winter.

  8. How sad to see it gone. It was surely much admired. I do hope it provides a haven for more wildlife. 🌼🌼🌼

  9. Lindy Le Coq says:

    Lovely old trees are like wise old people – no replacing them.

    • You are right, but on a positive note, there is a tract of land on the opposite bank which was planted up in 2012 with several hundred small saplings to create a small wood. The circle is complete, if a bit wobbly!!

  10. shoreacres says:

    The cycles of life: despite knowing that each species has its allotted span,it’s no easier to see them pass away. This truly was a beauty, and your photos capture it so well. It’s a good reminder to pay attention now, and record now, so that what we lose in the future won’t be totally lost.

  11. The small wood on the opposite bank does sound promising! Solitary trees are at risk in a windstorm, whereas trees planted together, along with shrubs and undergrowth, protect each other to a certain extent. Hopefully there will be a Horse Chestnut in the new wood!

    • I’ve been looking at that young wood over the last few days and am pleased to see that the birch trunks are beginning to turn white, the willow are fattening up and the alder are now old enough to have plenty of catkins and cones. So that is growing up quite nicely, not just saplings any longer! I think the woodland trust have planted appropriate species for Cambridge, so I suspect no horse chestnuts … maybe a few oaks though?

  12. Always sad to see a tree go

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