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Ayrshire Treasured Trees - People's Choice
1) Group of sycamores, Pinwherry

Click to enlargeThis nomination was for a group of sycamores in a field near Pinwherry. The trees were chosen for their very special place in the landscape where they frame the beautiful valley of the Stinchar which stretches out behind them with the distinctive conical shape of Knockdolian Hill visible in the distance.

They can be found approximately 30 metres to the left of the B734 road to Colmonell, just after crossing the Jubilee bridge.

2) Group of Scots Pine, by the Ness Glen

Click to enlargeThere are several Scots Pine adjacent to the Loch Doon Road that fit the bill as Treasured Trees simply because they are fine examples of the species in a picturesque setting. To find them, you need to turn off the A713 onto the Loch Doon Road - the junction is about 2 kilometres south of Dalmellington. From the junction, follow the road for about 3 kilometres and you will see the trees on the right, between the road and the Ness Glen.

3) Camlarg Horse Chestnut

Click to enlargeA grand old Horse Chestnut in Camlarg Estate, Dalmellington. There are no other chestnuts nearby - it stands at the head of an avenue of beech trees along what was once the old road from New Cumnock - and it supplies a generous crop of conkers each year. Its nominator feels it provides a natural link between the past and present with each generation of children producing their own crop of bruised knuckles from the conker fighting!

4) Robert Burns Oak Tree

Click to enlargeThis tree stands a few paces to the immediate south west of the Ivy House Hotel in Ayr. In Burns' day this building was known as North Park farm - you can still see the byres which predate Burns’ cottage in Alloway. The original road from Ayr to Alloway ran close to Northpark and the tree is known locally as the Robert Burns Oak as he would have passed it in childhood along the road to Ayr.

5) Holm Oak, Auchincruive

Click to enlargeThe Holm Oak is a native of the Western Mediterranean which has been grown in the UK for about 400 years. The high levels of tannin in the bark made it Click to enlargevaluable in the past for use in the tanning industry. The Holm Oak is a hardy, evergreen oak with holly-like leaves - the word “holm” comes from the Old English word for a holly bush. This specimen is said to be the oldest Holm Oak in Scotland and, while this is uncertain, there’s no denying that it is a very impressive old tree!

 

6) “Trysting Thorn” by Drongan

Click to enlargeA roadside hawthorn thought to be a descendant of the original tree mentioned in Robert Burns’ poem, “The Soldier’s Return”:
             “At length I reach’d the bonnie glen
              Where early life I sported;
              I pass’d the mill and trysting thorn,
              Where Nancy aft I courted:

The original tree was felled about fifty years ago due to disease and the current one was planted to commemorate the spot. Planks from the old tree were inscribed with the above lines from the poem and were sent to various Burns clubs around the world. The tree is located by Millmannoch Mill about 500 metres west of Drongan on a minor road heading towards Coylton.

7) Beech and Oak Trees by Auchinleck

Click to enlargeThis is an avenue of alternate Beech and Oaks known locally as the “Via Sacre”, which runs along the Barony Road between Auchinleck House and Auchinleck Church in Auchinleck. The Boswell family were the lairds of Auchinleck from the sixteenth century - perhaps the most famous of them was James Boswell, laird of Auchinleck from 1782 until his death in 1795, and chiefly remembered as the biographer of Dr Samuel Johnson. It was James' father, Alexander, who built the Barony Road, planted it as a tree-lined avenue and nicknamed it the "Via Sacra". Beech and Oak were chosen as their initials spell the first two letters of Boswell!

 

8) Beech Tree in Kilmarnock

Click to enlargeA magnificent tree that stands in the garden of a house in Kilmarnock. Standing as it does along a main route in andClick to enlarge out of the town (Glasgow Road) it brings pleasure to the many people who see it every day. It is a large, impressive tree and clearly much older than the houses which surround it.

9) Monkey Puzzles by the Dick Institute, Kilmarnock

Click to enlargeA pair of monkey puzzles frame the entrance to the Dick Institute with their strange, spiralling branches and the fabulously patterned bark typical of the species. They are about 75 years old and, with one male tree and one female, they form one the few breeding pairs in Ayrshire. The Dick Institute is on Elmbank Avenue, just off London Road and only about five minutes walk from Kilmarnock Town Centre.

 

10) Yew Tree, Eglinton Country Park


Click to enlargeThis is a beautiful tree, well known to regular visitors to Eglinton Country Park. It stands alone by the banks of the Lugton Water about 10 minutes walk from the Visitor Centre. Yew trees are very long-lived, slow-growing trees and are steeped in mythology. They were “the Church” to ancient people long before churches were built -a yew grove would be a sacred site where burials and scattering of ashes would take place and where people felt they could still connect with their loved ones. Indeed many ancient churches were built around the yew groves and today yew trees are still often found in graveyards.

11) Beech Tree, Chapeltoun woods near Stewarton

Click to enlargeThis tree grows on the roadside boundary of Chapeltoun woods near the Annick Water. It is an old, gnarled beech tree with several fused-together limbs and a gap between the two main stems which is large enough to walk through. To find it, follow the B769 out of Stewarton for about 2.5 kilometres to the Chapeltoun crossroads. Then take the turning to the right (heading north west) towards the Annick Bridge and Chapeltoun House. The tree is at the top of a steep section of road running down to the Annick Bridge.

 

12) Horse Chestnut, Fairlie


Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

Standing on a banking above the A78 in the grounds of Fairlie village hall, this imposing old conker tree dominates the centre of the whole village and is seen and admired by the thousands of people who pass it each year.

13) Holly Trees, Prophets Grave near Largs

Click to enlargeAn intriguing tale lies behind the planting of these two holly trees. It seems that a plague (possibly typhus) visited Largs in 1644. Many people sought refuge from the plague in temporary accommodation outside the town, among them the young minister, Rev William Smith. Unfortunately, Rev Smith contracted the disease and died in 1647. As he lay dying he asked for two holly trees to be planted at either end of his grave and prophesied that, if they were prevented from ever meeting, the plague would not return. The spot has been known as the Prophet’s Grave ever since and, to this day, gardeners ensure that the holly trees are kept apart - so far Largs has been plague free!

Click to enlarge - Photograph by Niall FinnieThe Prophet’s Grave is a very quiet little spot located off the Brisbane Glen road a short distance outside Largs. It is easily overlooked - look out for the small iron gate at the roadside, which leads you down a footpath to the site.

 
Photography © William Robertson unless otherwise indicated