Auckland park, in Bishop Auckland, has an interesting collection of old trees and these venerable sweet chestnuts are amongst the finest.
Some, like this one, are in the prime of life and produced a very heavy crop of chestnuts this year.
There are four mature trees that were planted in a line beside a small stream. The ground under them is covered in a thick layer of their serrated leaves, spiny fruit husks and nuts that will keep the squirrels well fed for weeks to come.
The low-angle late autumn sunshine this morning showed off their fissured bark beautifully.
One of the four has been dying for the thirty five years that I've known it. It has shed most of its branches, much of its bark, has been attacked by wood boring beetles and fungi .....
... and yet every year it sprouts new growth, refusing to die. There could be decades of life left in it yet, unless the roots finally rot and it's blown over by a gale and ......
...........that would be a pity, because I'd really miss this gnarled old trunk. It's one of the park's characters.