Why our hearts go out to Sherwood's ancient oak

Why our hearts go out to Sherwood’s ancient oak

Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire Perhaps it is a human-sized story – that after 400,000 days on Earth, the Major Oak is still full of life

The Major Oak, Sherwood Forest. Photograph: Mark Cocker  

Although British place names make frequent reference to different tree species, there can be few road signs giving directions to a single specimen. Nor can there be many English woods more steeped in story than Sherwood Forest.

I found a few incidental tales even as I walked up to the Major oak. There were fairy bonnet mushrooms painting their way across a dead stump like Lowry crowds through Salford. There were some last wasps around a waste bin, and wood pigeons so glutted on acorns their crops bulged. A robin laced its sad song among the birches, but sadder still was a bench with the following inscribed across its seat: “Abby Louise Hucknall – Missed So Much.” An emotional counterpoint came amid much open-armed laughter from the children playing along a Halloween-themed trail. Read more.