We sent Visit Colchester staff member Megan Fowler out on a brisk autumn day to explore the trees of Castle Park and practice her sketching.

As Essex was entered into the ‘High’ local Covid alert tier on Saturday, my partner and I faced a weekend were we had to either get outdoors or find a room in the house we haven’t redecorated yet. We chose the outdoors, as it feels like the only part of our house untouched by frenzied lockdown painting is the bathroom ceiling, and we just don’t fancy that… yet.

We embarked upon the Colchester Castle Park Tree Trail, put together by the extremely knowledgeable and passionate local Tree Expert Christopher Howard (who sadly passed away this year) and the Friends of Castle Park. The trail booklet lists 70 (yes seven-zero!) important trees across the upper and lower park and provides a map and directions to help you find them.

Various trees on the Castle Park Tree TrailWe are both quite creative folk, so we went out armed with sketchpads & pencils, wrapped up almost appropriately for the mid-October weather. Our intention was to draw a leaf from each tree as the trail guided us around… I gave us a 3 minute time limit per tree, so worked out it would take only (!) 3.5 hours to complete the task at hand and we would be home in time for lunch.

After about 30 minutes we were on tree No 4 or 5, and it became evident that 3 minutes per tree was not enough time, and the target of studying 70 trees was fading away fast. After a quick drink and snack for sustenance from the Café in the Park, we continued with new found energy and agreed we would just get through as many trees on the list as we could.Sketches of some of the leaves found on the Castle Park Tree Trail

Although the distance between each tree was never far, the trail demanded more of our attention than I had anticipated, as the writing about each specimen was *actually* interesting, even to a pair of very amateur tree hunters. We began to discuss and observe the trees ourselves too, noticing the subtle differences between different types of Oak and Ash as we drew and taking delight in noticing the more unique trees such as the Giant Redwood & the Gingko. We even had a go at saying the latin names for each specimen!

Some of the trees were aflame with reds & oranges, so it is a really good time to see those trees which thrive in Autumn. However, the trail booklet describes how the trees change throughout the year, when they grow their fruit and which ones flower in Summer, so this trail would be just as interesting in any season.

More Trees from Colchester Castle Park

At around the 3 hour mark, we had completed 25 drawings of leaves and spotted a further 25 trees along the trail (after our hands had gotten too cold to draw). The more creative people among you & children alike would enjoy drawing the varying shapes that the leaves have to offer but I would strongly recommend wearing woolly gloves at this time of year. You might alternatively enjoy collecting the fallen leaves from the ground to study later at home in the warm.

I anticipate if you were not drawing as you went along, depending on your walking speed, you could finish the trail of all 70 of the trees in 2.5-3 hours. As for us, we conceded defeat and promised to come back on another weekend to complete our walk, then treated ourselves to a cosy roast dinner for two in a friendly local pub (aptly named ‘The Foresters’) to warm up.

The Castle Park Tree Trail is available for £2.50 from the Visit Colchester Shop in Hollytrees, or is downloadable from our website.

Related

Castle Park Tree Trail
Walking Route
Colchester Castle Park
Castle Park
Park
Hollytrees House framed by Wisteria

The jewel in Colchester’s crown - an award-winning oasis of horticultural splendour boasting a children’s play area, putting green and boating lake.

Visit Colchester Gift Shop
Shop – Local
Visit Colchester shop. Colchester Mugs, cards and placemats.

The Visit Colchester Information Centre has a fantastic Gift Shop selling Colchester Souvenirs and locally made gifts.

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