The Cloven Ash: a Retrospective

For many years, every walk along the path which skirts the edge of Silverdale Moss has been enlivened by an encounter with an old friend – The Cloven Ash.

June 2010.

Seen from its northern side it looked like a typical mature ash – magnificent, but nothing out of the ordinary.

But from the South, it was more obviously remarkable…

March 2009

…because of the cleft running through its middle.

March 2009.

These last two photos are from the first reference I can find to this tree on my blog, but even then I was making an intentional visit to it to see how it was getting on. I suspect that if I tried harder I could probably find earlier photos which document my relationship with this ash, but those pictures, if they exist, are harder to find because it was only in March 2009 that I started to think of it as ‘The Cloven Ash’, and call it that on the blog, which makes it easy to search for. The name in itself is probably part of the reason that the tree occupies a place in my affections – it always reminds me of Italo Calvino’s novella ‘The Cloven Viscount’ (which I probably had in mind when I coined the soubriquet). It’s a book that I love, and that I’ve read many times, along with its companions ‘The Baron In The Trees’ and ‘The Non-Existent Knight’ which form Calvino’s ‘Our Ancestors’ trilogy.

January 2010.

Every time I walked past the Ash I would convince myself that the cleft had grown slightly, and then decide that perhaps it hadn’t. I could never make up my mind.

June 2010.

February 2011. New fence!

Looking at the photos now: it was growing wasn’t it, a least a little?

On windy days, the two halves of the tree would sway slightly together and apart in a steady rhythm. I suppose I was rubber-necking really: continually revisiting the site of a potential accident.

And then this October just gone, on the way back from Beetham Fell with Our Camping Friends I was shocked to discover not only that…

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October 2014.

…half of the tree had gone…

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…but also that the fallen wood had been cut down in size a little and tidied up and that the sawn logs were covered in moss, suggesting that it had been down for quite some time. I suppose the fact that I’d missed that reflects the relative infrequency of my local walks of late.

And then, as I returned home from our lunch at The Ship in Sandside, a further outrage…

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…the other half had also toppled. The Cloven Ash is no-more!

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The dry-stone wall hadn’t come very well out of the disagreement.

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Although, I have, in a way, been gleefully anticipating the collapse of this tree and all of the destructive potential that implied, since I first noticed the fault line which ran through it, I am now, of course, very sad to see its demise.

I suppose I should greet the oyster mushrooms which had already sprouted from the base of the exposed trunk as cheerful messengers of regeneration and rebirth, like fungal Hare Krishnas . Only more grey.

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You can find references, and/or photographs of or about the Cloven Ash on older posts here.

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The Cloven Ash: a Retrospective

8 thoughts on “The Cloven Ash: a Retrospective

  1. nature is fascinating. We had a 40+ foot laylandi in our back garden which was doing the same thing, i dread to think what would have happened to our house, the one backing onto it and the one side on to our garden if it had fallen before we had it cut down!

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Yes – nature is, fortunately, endlessly fascinating!
      I know that not everyone will agree with me, but even without the excuse of it being split, I would have thought that chopping down a 40+ foot Laylandi would always be the best outcome. But I’m biased – I really don’t like Laylandi.

  2. A sad but fascinating tale. It got me thinking about trees and the part they play in our lives. There are a couple of trees that have fond places in my memory, so I shall make a point of dropping in on them to see how they are doing.
    Cheers, Alen

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      There are a few trees in this neck of the woods which stand out in some way or other, and have, as a result, become sort of way-stations on my local walks. I too must get out soon and go visiting!

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