Hawthorn in Gill Beck Valley

This image of the valley, taken from Lonk House Lane, comes from ‘A Celebration of Tong Park’ published by Baildon Historical Society. It’s credited to F Hainsworth and dates to about 1920. The war memorial must be quite new.

Looking at that image from a century ago, the most striking difference from today is how much more manicured the vegetation is compared to today.

2020: a slightly different angle from a little way down the path past the war memorial

In particular the ancient-looking Hawthorns which punctate every wall and field margin have clearly grown up since the end of the Great War.

Hawthorn on Hollins Hall side
More mature Hawthorn further up the valley at High Eldwick
Food for winter thrushes
Counting rings in the stumps of cut Hawthorns: they mostly seem to be about the same age and about 70-80 years old

I suspect that the photo at the top of the post marks a time when intensive grazing and management of the valley was tapering off. The wars of the 20th century will have taken away many of the men who worked on the land. Specifically, the generation of character Hawthorn which are such a feature probably got going during WWII.

The same may be true for WWI and many of the trees in the higher parts of Spring Wood…which look to be about 100 years old.