The forecast for January 12th predicted strong winds, sleet and hail, with occasional snow showers and temperatures falling to minus two degrees centigrade. Perfect weather, I thought, to be among the central Lakeland fells, and pay a visit to the Langstrath Birch.
The three hours with the tree on that day were the coldest and most miserable I have experienced for a long while. But the images I captured showed just what I wanted to illustrate: what an exposed lone tree endures in winter conditions in the English Lake District.
For the past two years, as part of a project called The Long View with my partner Harriet, a writer and a poet, I have been visiting seven trees in my home county of Cumbria, England. None of the trees carry any special significance, they are not ancient or tied to any story, but each has rooted in a dramatic setting and is thriving in a harsh landscape. We like to describe them as ordinary trees in extraordinary locations. But in fact, having spent two years looking closely at these trees and sharing the weather they endure, I have come to view the trees themselves as extraordinary.
The seven trees form an arboreal constellation across the county. The easternmost tree is a wind-sculpted hawthorn on Little Asby Common; the furthest west is an oak that has sent its roots down through a field of boulders that form the famous Wasdale Screes. Spread between them, spanning an area of more than 130 kilometres if you travel by foot, are a...