The Bleeding Yew of Nevern weeps a blood-like red resin-like substance that apparently baffles botanists. Folk tales and legends abound. One explanation is that the tree weeps in sympathy with Christ’s wounds. Another says that a man was hanged in the tree and a third that it weeps, "until a Welshman is once again Lord of the castle on the hill". It is one of trees to visit on the new Great Yews of Wales Tree Trail a downloadable guide produced by the Woodland Trust as part of the Ancient Tree Hunt project.

Other trees featured include the Llangernyw yew, at Llangernyw near Llanrwst, which is widely considered to be the oldest living tree in Wales and thought to be some 4,000 years old.

Dafydd Ap Gwilym’s yew at Strata Florida Abbey in Ceredigion is believed to mark the spot where one of the greatest of medieval poets of Wales is buried. The Bettws Newydd yew near Raglan, photographed above by the trail's author Edward Parker,  is estimated to be at least 2,000 years old and has a wonderfully weathered outer trunk. Paintings and drawings from the 1890s show that the tree has changed very little over the last 120 years.

Commenting on the guide Ethno-botanist Fred Hageneder says that about 90% of the oldest trees in Europe are yew trees in the UK. “Today, more than a quarter of these are located in Wales alone. In the Middle Ages, this species provided staves for longbows, which helped to form and defend the country, first Wales, than the whole of Britain. While countless yews were destroyed for longbows these ancients survived… protected by the churchyards. In our current dark time of global deforestation and the extinction of many species – Treasure Island can be found by following the Great Yew Trail!”
 
 Edward Parker  says: “The trail can be started at any point and doesn’t necessarily need to be followed in order. Those who follow it will witness many magnificent ancient trees and some of Wales’ most spectacular scenery along the way. You could say it offers a journey through time – you can stand next to trees which were possibly full grown in the Bronze Age and others that definitely pre-date Christianity.”


Launched in 2007, the Ancient Tree Hunt aim is to map and record the location of old trees, as the first step in the protection and care of a vital and irreplaceable part of our national heritage and history. The target is to discover and record at least 100,000 ancient and notable trees across the UK.

The Tree Trail including beautiful images and details of where to find them and the trees already captured by the Ancient Tree Hunt can be found on the project’s website www.ancienttreehunt.org.uk