The walk was led by Neil Granthier, one of the two regular rangers in Allestree Park and a great authority on the park's trees. Neil has done these walks before, but he always takes a different route.
This time we met at the main car park off the A6 and proceeding down the long thin wood which goes south to the Lake. Here we saw some regenerating English elms. Following the ravages of so-called Dutch elm disease, which reached our shores from imported Canadian logs in the 1970, the vast majority of the former trees, an important component of the English landscape have been killed. Any young trees which manage to establish eventually succumb to the fungus and don't reach maturity. In the centre of the wood is the sad remains of a mighty 200 year-old beech tree which was the victim of a different species of fungus and was largely destroyed by gales a few years ago (subject of a separate article on this website).
We then crossed the field on the far eastern side of the wood, with the A6 road noisily evident on the far side. Here Neil showed us some fine ash trees, which he said had done well following the removal of the elms. One of the many interesting facts which neil told us about was that ash wood was used for the airframe of the famous wartime plane, the DeHaviland Mosquito.
Near to the A6, we were shown two hornbeam trees. Only one other tree of this species occurs in the Park - on the southern boundary near the Evergreen Hall entrance. In the centre of the field is a fine field maple (the only British native maple). It is unusual for this species to grow so big, often being found as a component of hedges. Neil thought that this specimen would be about 200 years old. Nearby was a large crab apple, of similar vintage, surrounded by a ring of elder bushes, which seemed to be guarding it.
Then we wended back to the car park, via the original tradesman's track to the Hall, passing one of the many magnificent old oaks of Allestree Park, possibly at least 300 years old. This specimen had some iron climbing pegs obviously hammered into the trunk many years ago - for what purpose Neil didn't know.
in the small wood just north of the car park was a grove of gnarled old hawthorns. Although these are not particularly large, these, too, were of surprising age, at least 200 years.
Back in the car park, Neil was thanked for yet another fascinating walk which again revealed his great knowledge of and passion for the Park's trees.