Inside the top secret National Trust facility that is helping the Sycamore Gap tree grow again

The team have created exact genetic copies of the landmark tree. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Since the tree from the Sycamore Gap in Northumberland was felled six months ago, experts from the National Trust have been working to find a way to restore the landmark.

Based at a secret location in Devon, the plant conservation team has been creating the perfect environment for seedlings from the tree to sprout again.

People visited the iconic site on Hadrian's Wall from all over the world, and when the tree was felled in September, there was a public outcry nationwide.

The National Trust, which looks after Northumberland National Park, collected seeds and twigs that fell when the tree was toppled.

The exact location of the centre now rearing the new sprouts cannot be disclosed because of it's valuable contents.

It houses copies of some of the UK's most historically important plants, and protects the country's natural heritage if disease or extreme weather were to devastate our trees.

The tree at Sycamore Gap was cut down in September last year. Credit: PA

The team uses a method called grafting to create the copies. It entails taking the root of one plant and adding a section from the fallen tree. The parts are then bound together with rope and wax and will eventually grow into a hybrid of the old fallen tree, and the new roots.

Chris Trimmer, the National Trust's Plant Conservation Centre manager, said: "We had the material arrive here at 9:30am on the Saturday after the tree was cut down. I was on duty, that weekend so I was the one who actually did the grafting."

Getting twigs and seeds from the original felled tree to the conservation team is a time-sensitive matter. Chris explained: "As soon as something is cut down, it is dying so this is why it is important to get material to us as soon as possible.

"The tree itself was mature so there was quite a lot of material there but it wasn't all ideal. The material we're looking for ideally is last year's growth. We did the best we could really, we had a 50:50 chance of it working.

"After the 20 grafts, we've now got about eight or nine working and this is the true genetic type of the Sycamore Gap tree."

Chris Trimmer grafts the felled plants with new roots so they can regrow. Credit: ITV News

When the tree was felled in September 2023, there was national outrage at its loss. Chris said it added a level of pressure to his work: "There was a bit of pressure, I won't lie. To me personally, I remember the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. It's the film that my wife and I went to on our first date, so I remember the tree from that film and a lot of people have good memories of it.

"I'm just proud to be a part of its history."

It is believed the landmark tree was felled deliberately and Northumbria Police immediately launched an investigation into suspected vandalism.

Two men in their 30s, who were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, have now had their bail extended. A 16-year-old boy and a man in his 60s who were arrested soon after the incident have been told they will face no further police action.

What remains at the site on Hadrian's Wall now is just a stump, in fact, some websites refer to it as the Sycamore Stump now where they once named it the Sycamore Gap.

No decisions have been made about the future of the stump. Chris said: "We don't know what's going to happen with the stump, there's a fair chance it will regrow but obviously it will be multi-stemmed.

"It would be a nice feeling to say, ok one of these trees goes back there, but no decisions have been made as of yet."

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