Artist’s vision comes to fruition to create a Sycamore Gap woodland legacy

A Yorkshire artist’s vision to create a woodland in memory of the felled Sycamore Gap tree has come to fruition.

The publicly accessible Lucy Pittaway Sycamore Gap Trail near Masham, North Yorkshire, will also bring new life to an area of the Swinton Estate devastated by larch tree blight.

As she planted the first saplings in the new woodland, artist Lucy Pittaway spoke of her joy that something positive has come out of the dreadful felling last September of the famous sycamore that had stood alongside Hadrian’s Wall for 200 years.

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“Like everyone else I was so saddened to hear about the felling of the tree,” said Lucy. “To now see this new woodland coming to life is wonderful and I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped us come this far.”

Lucy with Swinton Estate owner Felicity Cunliffe-ListerLucy with Swinton Estate owner Felicity Cunliffe-Lister
Lucy with Swinton Estate owner Felicity Cunliffe-Lister

Based in North Yorkshire and with galleries across the North including York, Harrogate, Brompton-on-Swale, Richmond and Yarm, Lucy holds the title of Britian’s most popular published artist. Her distinctive style is inspired by family and the countryside and she still recalls the deep impression a visit to the Sycamore Gap had on her as a child.

In the aftermath of the felling, Lucy painted an image of the tree with a Northern Lights backdrop. She vowed to make a donation from each print sold towards creating a legacy woodland and to date nearly 2,400 have been bought.

Felicity Cunliffe-Lister, owner of the Swinton Estate, answered the call for anyone with a suitable area of land to come forward and she joined Lucy in planting the first of the new saplings.

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“Like many areas of the countryside we have lost so many trees from larch blight and so regenerating the area through this project is a perfect fit,” said Felicity.

Lucy Pittaway with her Sycamore gap tree paintingLucy Pittaway with her Sycamore gap tree painting
Lucy Pittaway with her Sycamore gap tree painting

“I think we are appreciating more and more the importance of conservation and the positive impact that trees and the countryside have on our well-being.”

The first 600 saplings will be planted during April, mainly sycamore along with oak, rowan, hazel and other native trees. The estate’s forestry team will then plant hundreds more saplings over the coming months and more mature species from the autumn.

The new woodland will regenerate part of the plantation that surrounds a 200-year-old folly known as the Druid’s Temple. In recent years the area has lost swathes of trees to a fungal disease phytophthora ramorum that has ravaged trees across Britain and in particular Larch and Ash.

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Visitors to the Lucy Pittaway Sycamore Gap Trail will be able to follow a pathway formed by chippings from the felled larch trees on a woodland walk which will also feature artistic installations, areas to relax and education boards.

“I hope this is an area that can be used for relaxation for generations to come,” said Lucy. “If it can inspire people’s interest in art and the countryside then the legacy of the Sycamore Gap tree will be a positive one.”